The School of Geography and Environmental Sciences draws together researchers from across a range of physical and human disciplines to address many of the international and regional changes, challenges and impacts facing society today. We have an international outlook with a research presence in five continents, 31 countries and three world oceans, providing a firm foundation to solving and exploring regional concerns. Geography and Environmental Sciences at Ulster consistently produces research judged as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). In REF 2014, 58% of our research publications and 63% of the impact our research made was rated as 4*/3*.

Our research is organised around two core themes:

1) Environmental Processes, Management and Sustainability

2) Heritage, Conflict and Society

We address issues in both of our core themes across a diverse range of geographical environments that are important for both science and society. Several staff participate across themes and have successful research collaborations across the university and external research institutions reflecting the strongly connected, interdisciplinary nature of geographical and environmental research in the School.  Key specialisations include: quaternary environmental change, coastal systems, freshwater sciences, human environments, archaeology, and terrestrial ecology.

Each year, a limited number of funded PhD scholarships are available for Geography and Environmental Sciences. The School also encourages applications from self-funded students or students funded from external sources. We warmly encourage applicants to consider PhD study on a full-time (3 year) and part-time (6 year) basis on a range of original topics relevant to our research themes.


Geography and Environmental Sciences seek to provide its PhD researchers with outstanding support and facilities for their work. Dedicated postgraduate rooms are designed to bring researchers together, share insights and experience and promote a vibrant culture of enquiry and scholarship. We encourage researchers to play a full part in the life of the school, and avail of opportunities for academic communication, training, teaching, travel and a range of Ulster events to foster professional development and collegiality. A range of facilities are available to support researchers including laboratory space, IT services, specialised field equipment and vehicles.

Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in order to discuss their research project proposals. For general enquiries please contact the Research Director, Dr Paul Dunlop or postgraduate tutor, Dr Wes Forsythe.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

Additional information for International applicants may be found here.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found here.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees:

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.  Full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application, is available here.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.


Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

Watch Video  

Profile picture of Carin Cornwall

I would highly recommend Ulster University as you get so much support.  Coleraine is a beautiful town and the people are so friendly. It was a really positive experience.

Carin Cornwall - PhD Environmental Sciences

Watch Video  

Profile picture of Rory McNeary

I am a senior archaeologist and work for government in Northern Ireland. My PhD looked at the archaeological applications of high resolution airborne laser scanning or LiDAR at the Knockdhu Area of Significant Archaeological Interest (ASAI) in County Antrim. The research highlighted the importance of LiDAR analysis for the characterization and interpretation of historical landscapes, with an obvious application in supporting archaeological survey and settlement pattern research. It also reinforced the practical application of LiDAR data for cultural heritage management initiatives, such as, historic environment record augmentation, as well as, revealing patterns of change and threats to the archaeological resource at a landscape level.I am very grateful to the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) who part-funded this research through their HR Centre for Applied Learning’s ‘Assistance to Study’ scheme. I would also like to thank my academic supervisors who were

Rory McNeary - PhD in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

Profile picture of Jailos Lubinda

Pursuing a PhD at Ulster (Coleraine) in the beauty of the North Coast was a full package, loaded with fun activities like surfing, beaches, touristic attractions all within a 5-30 minutes drive. I’m proud of having taken the opportunity to give a Lecture to present part of my findings to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2019.My proudest moment was when I submitted my PhD despite having a new Baby just four months earlier and having to adjust with the uncertainties brought about by the early COVID-19 lockdowns, thanks to the guidance and dedication of my supervisory team. My favourite memory was when I got to learn how to surf with the help of my colleagues (Ben Strachan). This gave me another thing to look out for in good weather. I'll never forget the moments we shared with office colleagues (PhD Researchers) in the office playing tennis, surfing disc golf together, etc I couldn't have got through this without the support of my supervisors, my family, and

Jailos Lubinda - PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies

Profile picture of Temilola Olanrewaju

I am Nigerian by origin and was raised in the beautiful city of Lagos. I earned my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, after which I completed a Masters program in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis from Aberystwyth University Wales. My PhD research investigated how feeding interactions across trophic levels in the aquatic food web can facilitate the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in clinically relevant bacteria such as enterococci.My proudest moment was when I was announced as the winner of the first edition of the UU 3MT competition among excellent researchers across all UU campuses. Another proud moment came when the first publication from my PhD research was recognised by the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences with a runner-up award for Best Peer-Reviewed Publication by a PhD Researcher. My favourite memory was sharing a stage with Sir David Attenborough in November 2018. As a member of the Society for Applied Microbiology

Temilola Olanrewaju - PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies