Postgraduate Research

Research projects leading to the award of a PhD or Masters by Research are available in all areas of the biological, ecological, geographical and environmental sciences within the Lancaster Environment Centre. Research programmes leading to these degrees allow you to focus on a specific area of interest whilst also undergoing appropriate research training led by academic staff with international reputations in their discipline.

Research within LEC is organised into seven inter-disciplinary research themes. Within each theme there are many specialist research groups. These are headed by permanent staff and usually supported by post-doctoral research associates and technicians. You will become an integral part of these teams and benefit from intellectual and laboratory support. You will also be allocated a supervisory team who will support you through your studies. You will become part of a vibrant research environment, contributing directly to the research achievements of LEC.


As a PhD student you will be expected to pursue structured, supervised research into one of the many environmental research areas in which LEC has expertise. At the end of your research you will be expected to write an extended thesis, demonstrating evidence of your capacity to pursue scholarly research. Full-time PhD study takes a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 4 years. On a part-time basis it takes a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 7 years to complete.

Masters by Research

A Masters by Research is a Masters degree concentrated on a specific research topic. As with a PhD you will be expected to write an extended thesis, demonstrating evidence of your capacity to pursue scholarly research. Full-time Masters by Research study takes one year to complete and on a part-time basis it takes 2 years.

For both PhD and Masters by Research, the results of your research should make an original contribution to knowledge and be of a standard appropriate for publication.

LEC currently has over 160 full and part time PhD and Masters by Research students, including students working in Bolivia with the local people and the impact of mining; Investigating the health impacts of chemical contamination in Sierra Leone and atmospheric chemistry in the Amazon. Students also have the opportunity to go on policy placements regarding the role of science in policy decisions and to work with companies on reducing environmental impacts, for example, de-icer treatment at airports. Students are also given the opportunity to present their research at conferences, for example, a student presented her research on effective plant watering systems to the world’s top horticulturalists. We welcome enquiries and applications from well-qualified graduates throughout the world who wish to join this thriving research community. If you would like any further information, please contact the LEC PG Office.

Recent PhD graduates say doing a PhD at LEC offers a truly interdisciplinary experience, and a real personal challenge and "Lancaster University has a real feeling of community, both in the collegiate system of the University and also within LEC. The department is a friendly and welcoming place and organises events that help students to integrate both socially and academically, which are important aspects in the PhD experience" (Dr Rachel Hope).