Research course

Paleoclimate and Climate Systems

Cardiff University · School of Earth and Ocean Sciences

Entry requirements

Suitable for graduates in Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences, Chemistry and Physics. A first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent is required.

Months of entry

January, October, July, April

Course content

As our planet begins to respond to human-induced climate change it is vital establish the natural range of climate variation that has occurred in the past. The Palaeoclimate Research Group studies patterns and processes of global change in Earth's history. Our objective is to better understand the response of the ocean-climate system to various types of forcing, such as changing greenhouse gas concentrations or ocean circulation patterns.

Current research projects range across a wide variety of timescales. For example, at one end of the scale we are analysing the causes and consequences of rapid climate change since the last ice age; at the other extreme we are investigating the reasons for the long-term global cooling since the age of the dinosaurs. Major research themes include Cenozoic global climate change, thermohaline circulation, Antarctic sea ice and marine environments, and marine microfossils.

Much of our work involves the analysis of marine sediment cores. These contain detailed histories of past climate states, including records of both sudden and gradual change. A typical research project will generate various kinds of data, such as records of temperature and chemical changes in the ancient water column, micropalaeontological records of plankton communities, and data recording changes in physical sedimentation processes on the sea floor. Information like this can be integrated into the bigger picture of geographical and temporal variability in climate, and the results compared with models and computer simulations. One feature of palaeoclimate research is its great and often bewildering complexity, but no less striking is that regular and often repetitive climate changes have happened in the past. These regular patterns demand explanations.

The Palaeoclimate Research Group has grown rapidly in recent years. Recent staff appointments include Dr Jenny Pike (1997), Dr Ian Hall (2000), Prof Paul Pearson (2003), Dr Carrie Lear (2004), and Dr Stephen Barker (2006). We have benefited from major investment in new facilities, including the establishment of a Palaeoceanography Research Laboratory with two stable isotope mass spectrometers and a new high-resolution ICP-MS (2007). Details of these, our core storage facility, and the analytical facilities can be found within these pages.

Information for international students

An IELTS score of 6.5 or above.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
opportunities available months


part time
opportunities available months
full time
24 months

Course contact details

Prof. Ian Hall
+44 (0)29 2087 4830