Research course

Biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) or an appropriate first degree and postgraduate qualification

Months of entry


Course content

Our research focuses on Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems and biosphere atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases. Studies undertaken range from investigations of the smallest microbial unit to whole catchment ecosystems and across a wide range of latitudes, with a developing focus on tropical ecosystems. Our research considers element cycles, water balances and energy budgets in response to change, whether caused by natural catastrophe through volcanic eruptions or fire, or through human impact. There is a strong focus on understanding carbon and nutrient dynamics within wetland ecosystems and ecophysiological responses of forests to change. A key approach undertaken in this area is the application of experimental simulations of individual drivers of global change in order to understand likely ecosystem responses, while providing a mechanistic understanding of any changes to key underlying processes and microbial communities.

Our research has taken place across the globe, including northern peatlands, European grasslands, South African grasslands, and in the tropical forests of Borneo and Central and South America.

Current/recent research projects

  • Fluvial carbon fluxes in deforested tropical peat swamp forests
  • Methane emissions from trees
  • Ecosystem responses to the low atmospheric CO2 during the Last Glacial Maximum
  • Pollution effects on ecosystems
  • Ecohydrology of riparian forests
  • Ecosystem responses to volcanism

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology and environmental science.

Fees and funding

For detailed information on current fees visit

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
15 months
distance learning
variable months


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036