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Volcanoes pose dynamic hazards to people around the world and are sources of both substantial economic gain and loss. Volcanology is a broad and exciting science that encompasses field studies, geophysics, geochemistry, experimental studies, numerical and computational modelling, and hazard and risk mitigation. We are excited to offer new projects for our MSc by Research (Volcanology) programme for the 2020/21 intake. The programme offers graduate students year-long research opportunities in volcanology and is excellent preparation for PhD research in volcanology and allied subjects.

Research Projects

Applications are welcome at any time - there is no specific deadline. 
We also welcome interest from students wishing to develop their own projects in collaboration with Durham Volcanology Group staff. Please contact the potential supervisor with the most relevant research interests.

MSc in Volcanology

  • Volcanic debris avalanche deposits: a micro-textural study of a volcanic slip surface.
    (Dr Rich Brown, Dr Katie Preece)
  • Volcanic ash aggregates I: pyroclastic density currents.
    (Dr Rich Brown, Dr Fabian Wadsworth)
  • Volcanic ash aggregates II: fall deposits.
    (Dr Rich Brown, Dr Fabian Wadsworth)
  • Distribution of Pacific Ocean island volcanism.
    (Prof Colin Macpherson, Prof Ken McCaffrey)
  • Volcano distribution in northern and central American arcs.
    (Prof Colin Macpherson, Prof Ken McCaffrey)
  • Formation of lava tubes and magma conduits: shear-thinning induced localisation in bubbly lava and magma.
    (Prof Ed Llewellin)
  • Volcanic influences on atmospheric chemistry and dynamics.
    (Prof James Baldini, Dr Rich Brown)
  • The compressibility of bubbly magma: numerical modelling to describe an essential magma property.
    (Prof Ed Llewellin, Dr Fabian Wadsworth)
  • Plugging a volcanic conduit: a numerical investigation of convection in an open volcanic conduit.
    (Prof Ed Llewellin, Dr Antonio Capponi)
  • Multiphase lattice-Boltzmann simulation of sintering of volcanic ash.
    (Prof Ed Llewellin, Dr Halim Kususmaatmaja)


MSc by Research

Entry: via application form here and following successful interview.

Duration: 12 months [or 24 months part-time].

Entry requirements: 2.1 Bachelor's degree or above (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Assessment: research dissertation.

Training and Skills development

Throughout the MSc project successful students will be integrated into the vibrant, active volcanology research group within the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University. Training will include:

  • Project-specific technical training from DVG staff.
  • Weekly seminars in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience on a diverse range of topics.
  • Weekly volcanology group meetings that cover a range of topics, including:
    • Presentations and discussions of current research by Durham researchers and visiting guests.
    • Research paper discussions on hot topics in volcanology.
    • Writing and presentation skills development via informal student talks and manuscript reviews.
    • Development of volcano-related outreach activities.
    • Joint meetings with other Durham research groups (geochemistry, structural and tectonics).
  • Optional one-week residential volcanology field course in Tenerife that covers:
    • basaltic volcanism;
    • explosive volcanism;
    • lava emplacement;
    • pyroclastic rocks;
    • phreatomagmatism;
    • caldera formation, shield volcanoes, composite volcanoes and scoria cones;
    • hazards


  • Experimental volcanology lab
  • Sedimentology lab suitable for granulometric analysis of tephra and pyroclastic deposits
  • State of the art electron microscopy suite with FEG-SEM with CL and EBSD, TEM
  • X-ray computed tomography
  • Microscopy lab
  • Full suite of isotope and geochemical laboratories including laser ablation ICPMS
  • In-house thin-section laboratory, rock crushing and preparation
  • Mineral separation
  • Air quality monitoring instruments
  • Field equipment including: field scales, GPS units, satellite phones, two-way radios, portable laser range-finders, GoPro cameras

Fees and financial support

General University information on tuition fees and funding for postgraduate research is located here. Specific information on tuition fees for this programme can be found here ("Laboratory Based (PGR)" fees apply). For most projects, basic research costs are met by the supervisor. The student will be liable for costs associated with the optional field course (around £600), for optional conference attendance and for additional research costs for some projects (check individual project proposals here).