Research course

Climate change and ecosystem services

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

Earth’s climate system is intimately associated with processes in the oceans, feedbacks with the biosphere and astronomical influences. Superimposed upon these interactions is the increasingly important role played by humans in modifying Earth’s radiative balance and other components of the Earth system though, for example, nutrient enrichment and land use change. Our research seeks to monitor and quantify climate related change for a range of Earth’s systems while increasing predictive capability through the development of Earth system models of intermediate complexity. These models are informed by proxies of past environmental change and are integrated with economic models so that the services ecosystems offer to humans may be quantified. Investigations into other aspects of ecosystem services are also carried out at a more local scale, including assessments of the carbon contained within ecosystems and the flood alleviation potential of river floodplain meadows. There is a strong focus on quantifying exchanges of elements between various ecosystem reservoirs.

Current/recent research projects

  • The contribution of trees to ecosystem greenhouse gas budgets
  • Ecosystems services of floodplain meadows
  • Integrating models of intermediate complexity with economic models
  • Ecosystem services of pollinators
  • Dynamic vegetation modelling
  • Fluvial carbon losses in tropical peatlands responding to deforestation and fire

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any aspect of climate change, ecosystem services and environmental science.

Fees and funding

For detailed information on current fees visit

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036