Taught course

Holocene Climates

University of Cambridge · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree.

If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.

Applicants are welcome with first degrees in Geography or related disciplines, e.g. Environmental Studies and Earth Sciences.

Months of entry


Course content

This MPhil offers an 11-month programme of advanced study and research into the natural and anthropogenic causes and ecological and societal consequences of Holocene climate variability. The course is intended for students with a strong first degree in geography or a related discipline, such as environmental sciences and (paleo)climatology.

The curriculum will:

enable students to acquire a critical and well-informed understanding of the accepted and contested academic, public and political understanding of natural and anthropogenic climate change over the past 12,000 years;

provide a comprehensive background of Holocene climate variability on different time scales with different levels of ecological and societal responses, in order to reconcile climate model simulations from an informed perspective;

give students the opportunity to acquire advanced subject expertise, and transferable skills, relevant to their research interests and career goals;

equip students for dealing with complex social, political and scientific issues, in the presence of incomplete data, and communicate their positions prudently to specialist and non-specialist audiences;

provide the prerequisite exposure and familiarity with the many physical tools and techniques used in palaeoclimatology to prepare students for either pursuit of a Doctoral degree or professional position.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Students will acquire:

a comprehensive understanding of Holocene climate variability;

a proficiency in applying the many physical and sophisticated analytical tools used to acquire paleoclimatic data, as well as the skills to make objective interpretation of data and communicate findings in a scholarly manner;

the practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to advance knowledge in this field;

the ability to critically evaluate current research and methodologies and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses to build upon previous knowledge.

Skills and other attributes

Students will obtain:

the ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions cogently to specialist and non-specialist audiences;

proficiency in a range of analytical tools, IT resources, experience in survey methods, statistical methods, and a range of paleoclimatic and environmental concepts;

a strong sense of self-determination and confidence in tackling topical problems in a prudent and methodical manner.

Information for international students

Language Requirement

IELTS (Academic)

Element Score

Listening 7.0

Writing 7.0

Reading 7.0

Speaking 7.0

Total 7.0

TOEFL Internet Score

Element Score

Listening 25

Writing 25

Reading 25

Speaking 25

Total 100


Score: Grade A & B (overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185 plus a Language Centre assessment)


Score: Grade A, B, or C (with at least 200 with no element lower than 185).

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil
    full time
    11 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details