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School of Geography

Thinking about a PhD? Come and meet one of the top Schools of Geography in the UK


A special event is taking place at Queen Mary University of London this month (24 Nov) to invite potential PhD students to come and meet teams from both the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Staff from the School of Geography – ranked joint first in the UK for the quality of its research – will be on hand during the evening along with current students to help visitors explore the possibilities of joining its internationally-renowned research groups.

Switzerland - the accumulation zone of Morteratsch glacier. Image by PhD student John Groves who is studying the properties of temperate glaciers.

PhD students come to the School of Geography from all walks of life and study a wide range of topics. From quantifying Quaternary climate change to exploring the lives of migrant workers in London; undertaking hydromorphological river assessment to engaging in collaborative research with museums, and more, research reflects the specialisms across the School which are set into four themes:

  • Culture, Space & Power
  • Economy, Development & Social Justice
  • Health, Biosciences & Security
  • Earth Surface Science

“Particularly significant is our collaborative work with national and international, governmental and non-governmental agencies, to shape policies and have an impact beyond the university,” said Professor Geraldene Wharton, Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Geography.

“Opportunities to undertake funded PhD research with us come in numerous routes – from QMUL Principal’s College Studentships to those provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and also the Erasmus Mundus SMART doctoral programme,” she added. “The School – which currently has 70 PhD students – attracts the very best candidates, and our research students are an integral part of our research culture. They travel worldwide to explore a diverse range of topics and many go on to research careers in academia and beyond.”

PhD student Cecilie Sachs Olsen, for example, has just returned from a month in Switzerland and Germany where she deployed an artist collective called zURBS, which she set up with like-minded researchers, to put on a series of workshops for local people, businesses and policy makers. Together, they explored the ways in which different generations and groups perceive the cities in which they live and she encouraged them to think about how, through art, these places could be different in the future.

“My interest in the link between socially engaged artistic practice and urban space positioned me in a place in-between theory and practice. zURBS believes the potential of re-thinking our surroundings is not a privilege of urban planners or architects, but something we all are capable of,” Cecilie said. “I wanted to explore this field further in my PhD, and found that the intersection between art and geography would provide an interdisciplinary terrain that questions methodologies and terminologies. I think the School of Geography at Queen Mary is the perfect place for me to go about such an undertaking, with colleagues such as my supervisor Dr David Pinder constantly expanding the field of geography into artistic realms, and the general openness for interdisciplinary collaborations allowing me to be cross supervised by the School of English and Drama too.”

Paddy fields in Chitwan. PhD student Suzy Solley is studying widowhood in Nepal.

Queen Mary is one of the 24 leading UK research-intensive universities in the Russell Group whose members are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience, excellent graduate employability and unrivalled links with business and the public sector. Some 89 per cent of QMUL students said the quality of postgraduate teaching and learning met or exceeded their expectations in the most recent Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2012.

Book now to come along to the postgraduate research open evening on Monday 24th November from 4.30pm at The Octagon, Mile End Campus, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

  • Read more about research interests in the School of Geography
  • Read more about our PhD students' experiences here at QMUL Geography on the Student Blogs
  • All members of academic staff in the School supervise PhD study. Read more on their staff profiles
  • Information about current PhD opportunities in the School will be advertised at the open evening and will be available on the website shortly after.
  • For enquiries related to PhD applications, email



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