Research course

Isotope geochemistry of the Earth system

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

Isotope geochemistry has been a major focus of the research carried out in The Open University’s science faculty for nearly 40 years; we are world leaders in radiogenic and stable isotope geochemistry, and in geochronology, with state-of-the-art laboratories housed in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems.

Academics and researchers from Earth sciences use a wide range of cutting-edge isotopic techniques, many of which we have developed ourselves, to study a very diverse range of problems in the Earth and environmental sciences. Our research interests cover present-day and past environmental change; oceanography and palaeoceanography; tectonics and mountain building; volcano dynamics; and sedimentology and stratigraphy. Isotope geochemistry has been central to the major contributions to the international research agendas in these varied fields that have been made by academics and researchers at the OU since the 1970s.

Potential supervisors
  • Dr Pallavi Anand – biogeochemical proxies development and application in understanding calcification, oceanic processes and climate.
  • Dr Tom Argles – Senior Lecturer in Earth Science. The evolution and provenance of highly deformed and metamorphosed rocks in orogenic belts.
  • Dr Anthony S. Cohen – isotope geochemistry and its applications to palaeoenvironmental change.
  • Professor Nigel Harris – Professor of Tectonics. Links between tectonics and magmatism, the role of mountains in the Earth system, comparative tectonics along the Tethyan orogenic belts, how mountain building impacts on global climate.
  • Professor Simon Kelley – Professor of Isotope Geochemistry.
  • Dr Phil Sexton – climatic change during the Eocene and mid-Cretaceous ‘greenhouse’ regimes.
  • Dr Sarah Sherlock – Senior Research Fellow. 40Ar/39Ar geochronology.
  • Dr Clare Warren – NERC Advanced Postdoctoral Research Fellow. The formation and exhumation of high-pressure metamorphic rocks, geochronology, geodynamic modelling.

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any geochemical, biotic or geochronological aspect of present-day or palaeoenvironmental change. Lists of postgraduate research projects likely to be available for a 2016.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website

Qualification and course duration


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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036