Research course

Present-day and palaeo-environmental change

Open University · Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent); prior research experience is preferred.

Months of entry


Course content

Present-day environmental change is now high on the international agenda but the trajectory of future change, particularly past the end of the present century, is hard to predict with confidence. Academics and researchers within the discipline of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems at the OU have active interests in present-day, anthropogenically driven environmental change from the perspective afforded by our study of the natural changes that have controlled Earth’s environment over its 4.5 billion-year history. Our research is frequently interdisciplinary and is underpinned by the latest methods and approaches in fieldwork and laboratory analysis.

Current/recent research projects

  • The development of seawater oxygenation during the early Cenozoic (55-25 Ma ago): a Re-, U- and Mo-Isotope study
  • Assessing the stratigraphic record and its utility for understanding the Earth system
  • The development and refinement of geological timescales using orbital chronologies
  • A multi-proxy isotope approach to reconstructing seawater oxygenation
  • Environmental change during the Early Jurassic- A North African perspective
  • Quantifying Quaternary Climate Change in the Tropical Andes using non-biting Midges (Chironomids)
  • Past environmental change in the Amazon basin
  • Microfossil extinction, diversification and abundance changes associated with the Toarcian period of extreme environmental change
  • 500,000 years of solar irradiance, climate and vegetation changes
  • The impact of recent Ocean Acidification on bio-calcification
  • Understanding the Marine δ53Cr record; An Experimental and Analytical Approach
  • Response of Amazonian tropical forests to past changes in global climate
  • Ocean circulation patterns during the early/middle Eocene climatic warmth
  • Development of biogeochemical proxies and application over glacial-interglacial cycles
  • A multi-proxy approach for reconstructing tectonic scale monsoon evolution
  • Unravelling the tectonic and climatic controls on Upper Jurassic mass flow deposits in NE Scotland
  • Late Pliocene stratification and productivity reconstructions: linking monsoon evolution and climate
  • Diversity and disparity at the dawn of fern evolution

Potential supervisors

Department specialisms

We encourage enquiries from prospective students on any geochemical, sedimentological, biotic or geochronological aspect of present-day or palaeoenvironmental change.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 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