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Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics DPhil

Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics DPhil

Different course options

Study mode

Full time


3 years

Start date


Key information

Qualification type

PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Subject areas

Atmospheric Physics Physics (General) Oceanography

Course type


Course Summary

About the course

The sub-department’s research focuses on the study of physical processes in the atmospheres, surfaces and oceans of the Earth and other planets, using experimental, computational and theoretical techniques. Admission is highly competitive and is either directly to this course or via the physical climate system stream of the Environmental Research NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

How does the Earth’s climate evolve? How do we connect measurements made from space and the ground to the future direction of the Earth’s climate? What can we learn from observations of other planets to tell us more about the Earth and the evolution of the Solar System? These are the types of research problems members of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics (AOPP) sub-department of the Department of Physics are engaged in.

The structure of the taught course components and initial (first year) assessment for a DPhil in AOPP is determined by the method of entry onto the course.

if you wish to enter via the Oxford Environmental Research NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, your initial training will be within the DTP, before transferring to AOPP usually at the beginning of the second term of your first year; or
if you applying directly to AOPP, typically for projects in the area of planetary physics or a specifically-funded research project, courses will be provided either in collaboration with the DTP in Environmental Research or via lectures given as part of fourth year major option in the University's undergraduate degree in physics, Physics of atmospheres and oceans.


If admitted directly to AOPP, you will be assessed via the successful completion of classes and a first year transfer report of around 10,000 words, submitted during the summer of your first year. For the DTP, please see Environmental Research (NERC Doctoral Training Partnership).

You are admitted as a probationary DPhil student, and transfer from a probationary status is dependent on successful completion of the taught component of the course and assessment of your first year report by at least two academics that are not directly connected to your project. A further second year report, also assessed, is required before status as a DPhil candidate is confirmed and your thesis can be submitted.

Graduate destinations

Graduates from the programme have gone on to positions within academia, industry and government. Examples of organisations recent graduates have found employment have included NASA, the European Space Agency, Airbus Space and Defence and university departments across the world.

Support for career development is provided via the University’s Careers Service, events organised by the Department of Physics for graduate students and locally within AOPP. A regularly-maintained internal website lists upcoming opportunities and possible future destinations.

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK/ international students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


Entry requirements

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications. A first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in physics, mathematics or related subjects. The equivalent of a UK four-year integrated MPhys or MSci degree is typically required. Bachelor's degrees with a minimum four years' standard duration may satisfy the entry requirements. Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent. In exceptional cases, the requirement for a first-class or strong upper-second class undergraduate degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated by a graduate master’s degree or substantial directly-related professional or research experience. For applicants with a degree from the USA, the typical minimum GPA sought is 3.3 out of 4.0. However, selection of candidates also depends on other factors in your application and most successful applicants have achieved higher GPA scores.