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About the Department of Earth Sciences

We are living through a time of unprecedented change on Earth. Scientific understanding of geological hazards, sustainability, infrastructure, climate change, energy, and natural resources has never been so important, and Earth Sciences sit at the heart of the debate.

We aspire to help shape the future by providing the highest quality education for our students and by undertaking research that is both intrinsically excellent and relevant to society. 

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25th in the Times Higher Education International Universities Rankings
World Top 50 QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022
Top 10 in the UK for research outputs (REF 2021)
8th The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

Study with us

  • Undergraduate study

    We place research-led teaching at the centre of our undergraduate programme because we want our undergraduates to be at the forefront of knowledge generation in the 21st century.

    Man reading while overlooking sea
  • Postgraduate study

    We aspire to help shape and improve the future by training the next generation of Earth Scientists through provision of high-quality postgraduate training and research opportunities. 

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Undergraduate study

We place research-led teaching at the centre of our undergraduate programme because we want our undergraduates to be at the forefront of knowledge generation in the 21st century.

Man reading while overlooking sea

Postgraduate study

We aspire to help shape and improve the future by training the next generation of Earth Scientists through provision of high-quality postgraduate training and research opportunities. 

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Our research

This is how we make an impact on the world around us.

We are a vibrant and collaborative community of 50 academic and postdoctoral staff, and 70 postgraduate research students (PhD and MScR). We conduct and disseminate rigorous research that deepens our understanding of the Earth and environment, and that transforms and enhances practices and outcomes in academia, in industry, and amongst practitioners.

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Diversity initiatives

Our values are an integral part of our identity and form the basis of almost everything we do.

Earth Sciences aims to support equality, diversity and inclusion across the department, encompassing all aspects of inequality. We consider inclusiveness to be fundamental to a supportive, progressive and successful Department. We aim for the Department to be a pleasant and supportive work and study environment for all, respecting the dignity of staff and students, regardless of their gender, gender identity, race, or disability.
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What's new?

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Ancient fossils shed new light on evolution of sea worm

Ancient fossils have shed new light on a type of sea worm linking it to the time of an evolutionary explosion that gave rise to modern animal life.
A 515 million year old fossil of a sea worm

IAPETUS2 Doctoral Training Programme

Available studentships for the 2023/24 cohort will be added here throughout September, October and November 2022. Applications will open early November 2022.
A mountain

Gender Equality Silver Award Success

The Department of Earth Sciences has recently been awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award.
Diversity Initiatives balloons

NERC's Ocean-Bottom Instrumentation Facility

The Facility has, funded by the NERC's URGENCY scheme, just deployed a set of six ocean-bottom seismographs around the islands of the Azores
OBS deployment

Scientists discover world’s longest underwater avalanche after rescue of lost data

We’ve discovered the world’s longest underwater avalanche – after recovering lost data swept away by the dramatic event.
A sensor is lowered from a boat into the ocean

Earth Sciences Professor named as Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellow

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy has announced its 2022 intake of Fellows. We are pleased to share the news that Professor Bob Holdsworth from the Department of Earth Sciences has been named as one of the intake alongside a range of academic and artistic minds.

Jeroen van Hunen EGU Geodynamics Division President

Jeroen van Hunen has been elected as President for the Geodynamics division of the European Geoscience Union Geodynamics.
Jeroen van Hunen EGU GD President

Jon Gluyas becomes President of Global Geothermal Energy Advancement Association

Professor Jon Gluyas (Director of Durham Energy Institute) is leading a new initiative bringing Industry and Academia together to advance the role of geothermal energy in the energy transition: the newly formed Geothermal Energy Advancement Association (GEAA).
Portrait image of Jon Gluyas

Ancient fossils shed new light on evolution of sea worm

Ancient fossils have shed new light on a type of sea worm linking it to the time of an evolutionary explosion that gave rise to modern animal life.
A 515 million year old fossil of a sea worm

IAPETUS2 Doctoral Training Programme

Available studentships for the 2023/24 cohort will be added here throughout September, October and November 2022. Applications will open early November 2022.
A mountain

New opportunity to study climate science

We are excited to announce the launch of our new 3 year Climate Science degree course!
New Climate Science Course at Durham Earth Sciences

Stephen Mills Scholarships

Two scholarships available for UK students to undertake MSc by research projects in Durham Earth Sciences.
Durham Cathedral
I selected Durham University because it has a high world ranking, and I enjoy the small, quiet atmosphere of the city. The staff, students, and facilities in the Earth Sciences department are of the highest quality.

Jaafar H. Jotheri
PhD in Palaeoclimate - from Babylon, Iraq

Get in touch

Contact us to find out more about the exciting things our students do, research breakthroughs, and life at the cutting edge of Earth Science.

Earth Sciences,
Arthur Holmes Building,
Science Site,
South Road,
Durham. DH1 3LE

Tel: +44 (0)191 334 2300
Fax: +44 (0)191 334 2301

Questions about studying here?

Check out our list of FAQs or submit an enquiry form.

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Order your personalised prospectus and College guide here.