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Different course options

Study mode

Full time


4 years

Start date


Key information

Qualification type

PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Subject areas


Course type


Course Summary

About us

The Department of Geography is in the top tier of UK departments and has consistently been identified as one of the highest performing in successive research assessments (most recently, ranked 2nd in REF2014). We have over 30 members of academic staff and notable research concentrations in Quaternary science, social, cultural, and historical geography, the GeoHumanities, geopolitics and security, development studies and sustainability. Ours is a vibrant postgraduate community of over 120 students, including some 80 PhD candidates, drawn from across the world. Subject to eligibility criteria, students can access funding from AHRC, ESRC, NERC, and EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres.

PhD students sit at the heart of our research culture and are supported in their work by world-leading academics and a dedicated team of technical staff. PhD students enjoy access to well-equipped laboratory and computing facilities and benefit from the exceptional range of partnerships the department has developed with charities, NGOs, industry, government departments, museums, and the creative sector.

Research facilities and environment

The Department of Geography is well provisioned with computing and laboratory facilities to support its PhD researchers.

The department has a number of scientific laboratories supporting cutting-edge research in physical geography and Quaternary science, including geochemistry, geochronology (including luminescence dating, varve analysis, and tephrochronology), paleoecology, micromorphology, and sedimentology.


PhD researchers are ordinarily assessed on the basis of a written thesis of monograph form and of not more than 100,000 words in length. Alternatively, for students engaged in practice-based research, Royal Holloway is one of the few geography departments internationally to offer assessment on the basis of a substantial body of performance or creative work, together with an accompanying written submission of 30,000-60,000 words. This mode of assessment may be particularly appropriate for candidates within the field of GeoHumanities. It is also possible, with permission, to submit a thesis that comprises a collection of papers, brought together via an introduction, methodology, critical evaluation and conclusion.

Your future career

Our graduates have entered into a wide range of careers, within academia and beyond, including positions at the British Library, the Department for International Development, commercial consultancy, NGOs, think-tanks, major cultural institutions and museums, and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

A significant number of our graduates have remained in academia, going on to secure postdoctoral research positions and lectureships in a wide variety of disciplines. Supervisors work closely with PhD researchers to explore and support their career ambitions. PhD researchers have full access to the College’s Careers and Employability Service and many choose to take up the opportunity of research-related placements in relevant organisations during the course of their studies.

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK students

For this course (per year)


International fees
Course fees for EU and international students

For this course (per year)


Entry requirements

The Department would ordinarily expect applicants to hold a UK 1st- or upper 2nd-class undergraduate degree (or a recognised international equivalent) together with a relevant Master’s degree (at Pass level or higher). Professional experience, particularly in the case of applicants wishing to pursue a practice-based PhD, will be considered in the absence of a Master’s degree.