Research course

Oceanography and paleaoceanography

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

You have probably heard the Earth called 'the blue planet'. What is less understood is that the blue colour – the oceans – are largely responsible for controlling the climate. In the Environment, Earth and Ecosystems discipline at the OU, our mission is to untangle some of these key processes that drive the planet’s climate. Our studies range from determining the past ocean circulation in geological time to the current decay of the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctic; and we are publishing our research in the highest ranked scientific journals.

Our particular areas of expertise are in the development and use of unique biomineral proxies in state-of-the-art laboratories, and collecting vital data in remote field work in some of the least-visited areas of the planet. We welcome applications from potential students interested in working in these vital science areas.

Current/recent research projects

  • Reconstructing ocean circulation patterns during the early/middle Eocene climatic warmth and subsequent cooling trend (47-53Ma)
  • Develop biogeochemical proxies to understand foraminifera calcification and past ocean chemistry
  • Assessing the impact of ocean acidification-induced changes on calcification and ecology of planktonic foraminifera
  • Understanding tectonic scale Indian Summer Monsoon evolution
  • Glacial-Interglacial reconstruction of Indian Summer Monsoon
  • Reconstruction of past changes in North Atlantic overturning using neodymium isotopes
  • Ocean circulation, properties and variability in Marguerite Bay, west Antarctic Peninsula
  • Sea ice thickness and iceberg distribution in the Southern Ocean
  • Reconstructing past ocean oxygenation and its relationship to global warmth
  • Understanding uncertainty in the weak underbelly of Antarctica

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Pallavi Anand – development and application of biogeochemical proxies for understanding past ocean chemistry and climate
  • Dr Mark Brandon – the interaction of the ocean with the cryosphere
  • Dr Angela Coe – biotic and sedimentological changes during ocean deoxygenation
  • Dr Tamsin Edwards – uncertainty, ice-sheet dynamics, climate change
  • Dr Neil Edwards – climate models, carbon cycle, palaeoceanography
  • Dr Anthony S. Cohen – isotope geochemistry and its applications to palaeoenvironmental change
  • Dr Philip Sexton – climatic change during the Eocene and mid-Cretaceous ‘greenhouse’ regimes, and the relationships between ocean circulation, ocean carbonate chemistry, and atmospheric CO2

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on palaeoceanography and polar oceanography linked to the expertise of the potential supervisors.

Fees and funding

For detailed information on current fees visit

Qualification and course duration


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


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

Course contact details

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 659036