Our Distinctive Characteristics

Our research, facilities and study locations are wide-ranging, forming a unique set of characteristics.

World-class resources

Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are all formidable research institutions in their own right, with extensive, contrasting and complementary areas of expertise.

Together, as the Graduate School for the Environment, we have the size, scope and infrastructure to be able to offer an unrivalled level of support to our students – accommodating almost every imaginable environmental research interest.

We can call on a collective pool of hundreds of experts, up and down the UK and from far and wide overseas, to supervise or support your work.

We can provide you with cutting-edge facilities, laboratories, equipment and tools – whether that means our new £4.4 million teaching labs in Lancaster, the Controlled Environment facilities at Rothamsted, or the network of national-scale monitoring platforms and software tools managed by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. And that’s to say nothing of the enviable array of field sites we collectively have access to across the world.

We curate the kind of long-term, national-scale data that can fuel the most powerful of research. We provide a range of tools and expertise to make such data more reusable and accessible and we build applications for different audiences to ensure datasets are delivered in the most appropriate way.

As well as being well connected and well appointed, the Graduate School for the Environment is also well funded. We have the size and capabilities to attract financial support for a wide range of fully-funded PhD studentships, for example, opening up a world of possibility to you and the rest of our postgraduate community.

One way or another, the size and scope of our partnership makes the Graduate School for the Environment a world-leading destination for postgraduate researchers. We have the critical mass to help you make an impact.

Interdisciplinary excellence

Environmental challenges can only be properly addressed when scientists, researchers, government agencies and businesses come together to pool their ideas and devise coherent, practical, comprehensive solutions.

That’s how things work in the real world, so that’s the kind of real-world approach we take at the Graduate School for the Environment.

It’s no coincidence, for example, that under our roof you will find biologists, environmental chemists and volcanologists swapping ideas and entering into fruitful collaborations with everyone from political ecologists to human geographers. Researchers of every natural and social science discipline, supported by experts in environmental informatics, form part of our community – as long as their work relates in some way to the environment.

It’s also no coincidence that dozens of businesses have offices at our Lancaster site and that we have connections with thousands more around the world. We believe in this kind of cooperation. It’s what motivated us – Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology – to form the Graduate School in the first place.

We have woven our interdisciplinary approach into every part of life at the Graduate School. You can see it in the structure of our Masters programmes, for example, and in the way we set up and supervise PhD research projects.

Of course, this does not mean that we discourage specialism. The world needs experts and the Graduate School is set up to produce them – in every possible discipline of the natural and social sciences. But what the world needs even more are experts who can apply their knowledge to tackle our environmental challenges. And that’s the invaluable quality that defines our students as they leave the Graduate School to take up careers in the world at large.

Real-world focus

Everything we do at the Graduate School for the Environment is driven by the realities of the outside world. All of our research – whether fundamental or applied – is directed at real-world challenges, exploring theory and pushing back the boundaries of our understanding but always with a view to putting that knowledge into practice.

That’s why we have forged so many strong links to other research institutions, government agencies and businesses. There are dozens of businesses with offices at the Graduate School, for example, and thousands more partners of all shapes and sizes at a regional, national and international level.

These real-world links exist because we understand that practicalities matter – whether it be accessing funding streams, informing environmental policy at national and international level, or attending to the commercial imperatives of the business world where innovation, product design and profit must all be taken into account.

We also encourage our students to look outwards and engage actively – and practically – with the global environmental community. That might mean conducting fieldwork at home or overseas, taking up a placement with one of our research partners, or pursuing a company-based research project in a particular industry.

We believe this is the best possible preparation for a career in the world beyond the Graduate School – where academic expertise needs to be married to practical understanding and proven skills.

Global outlook and impact

The Graduate School for the Environment has a strong international focus and it informs everything we do. It is a focus that we share with our students, who hail from all parts of the world, encouraging them to take on research with global as well as national and regional significance, and providing them with the infrastructure they need to make such work possible.

Lancaster Environment Centre, for example, has longstanding international partnerships with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Sabah Foundation in Malaysia, the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil and several universities in Nigeria. It is also the only UK institution to have a physical campus in Africa – based in Accra, Ghana.

Rothamsted Research too has an impressive global presence. In the past few years alone it has collaborated on projects in no fewer than 58 countries worldwide and it has particularly well-established links in India and China.

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology also has strong international links, collaborating with colleagues worldwide and recently increasing its work in Africa. Its scientists chair and provide expert advice to more than 400 national, European and global committees; it coordinates UK input to UN freshwater science programmes; and it is also part of major international collaborations such as the International Long-term Ecological Research Network.

These international links mean that as a Graduate School student, you could find yourself engaged in research work in any corner of the globe. That might mean monitoring pollution in China’s Pearl River basin, studying the impact of invasive plant species in New Zealand, assessing tree population dynamics in Brazil, analysing glacial meltwaters in Iceland, examining food security in Ghana, or helping to develop more sustainable wheat production in India.

We have also built an international component into many of our courses, calling on PhD supervisors from all over the world, providing overseas placements and secondments, and designing shared and dual Masters programmes.

We believe that our outward-looking focus makes us better placed to tackle environmental issues at an international level. It also opens up a world of opportunity for our students, giving them the kind of global perspective that employers value, and a network of contacts in the UK and overseas that they can use to expand their own career possibilities.

Career gateway

When students leave the Graduate School for the Environment, they take with them more than the right to put Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology on their CVs. What they take with them is the kind of practical experience that employers value, an extensive network of contacts, and a qualification tailor-made to secure the career they want.

And that’s what the vast majority have within six months of being awarded their qualification – a first job or the award of a place for further study. That’s no accident. It’s down to the way that we put careers at the very centre of what we provide at the Graduate School.

If you arrive at the school with a particular career already in mind, we can weave it into your studies – perhaps via a research-focused PhD, a careers-dedicated module, a business-based research project, or an international placement with one of our partners. Alternatively, if you are unsure of your preferred career path, we can expose you to an unrivalled range of possible directions so that you can make an informed decision further down the line.

In both cases, one great advantage of studying at the Graduate School is our outward-looking approach. We work with a wide range of research institutes, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, multinational companies, and small and medium-sized enterprises – every one of which could prove to be a potential employer. And there are thousands of them – locally, nationally and internationally.

What’s more, we have a dedicated careers service and an Enterprise and Business Partnerships team specifically designed to get you working with one of these organisations during your studies – with the distinct possibility that you could end up carving out your own career opportunity.

It’s all part of our demand-led approach. You come to the Graduate School for a purpose. And we make it our purpose to meet that demand – for training, for opportunities and, most of all, for a career.