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, Professor Paul Dunlop or postgraduate tutor, Dr Robert McNabb.

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.

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.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

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.

Get 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.

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.