A student in an ice cave in Iceland


As a student at the Graduate School for the Environment you have the opportunity and support to make an active, original and exciting contribution to our world-leading research output.

Every researcher at the Graduate School for the Environment has the chance to make a real difference. You have a better chance of making an impact with your work here than at most other institutions – we are one of the three most highly ranked institutions in the UK for the way in which our research has a practical and positive effect on the outside world.

There’s a reason for our success. It’s because we have put together the right blend of people, resources, support structure and culture to help you succeed.

Just imagine what you could achieve in this kind of world-class environment – the skills you could acquire, the places you could see, the experts you could work with, the data you could gather, the equipment you could use, the insights you could have, the breakthroughs you could make, the career you could launch. It’s an exciting prospect.

Meet the Challenge

We undertake a broad range of fundamental and applied research so that we have the underlying knowledge and practical understanding to find effective solutions to four key global challenges. All of the research that we conduct at the Graduate School is outward-looking and challenge-led. We have made it our mission to address key issues, all of which demand complex, international, multi-disciplinary solutions.

  • Agri-Food

    At Lancaster, we aim to facilitate the development of globally relevant and accessible food systems by 2030.

  • Eco-Innovation

    We recognise that sustainable development depends on promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production as well as protecting and managing the natural resources vital for economic and social development.

  • Sustainable Catchments

    Catchments host the infrastructure and industry associated with farms, villages and cities all of which have downstream consequences on water flows and quality.

  • Tropical Futures

    The tropics incorporate an incredible diversity of language and culture, as well as species and ecosystems. They also have some of the world’s poorest people and nations and some of the highest rates of species loss and ecosystem change.

Think Differently

When you arrive at the Graduate School, you will be surrounded by researchers from across the natural and social sciences all contributing to a culture that cuts across traditional disciplines to deliver new and effective solutions.

The Graduate School for the Environment is deliberately organised to be a melting pot of ideas, interests and methodologies. Anthropologists mix with environmental chemists. Ecologists rub shoulders with geologists. Hydrologists swap ideas with social scientists.

As one of our students, you will find yourself working as part of one of these focused research groups and you will be challenged to consider the value of your training or research within a wider multi-disciplinary team. Right from the start, you will learn to think differently, bouncing ideas off your colleagues, picking up new techniques, exploring unexpected avenues and setting new goals.

It’s an exciting way to conduct research, and it’s a great preparation for the world of work, where the ability to apply your expertise in close cooperation with colleagues from different disciplines is extremely valuable.

  • Atmosphere, Climate & Pollution

    Our research addresses the sources, transformation, trends and fate of chemicals in the environment with a focus on atmospheric composition, air quality and climate.

  • Critical Geographies

    Our research focuses on a variety of critical geographies that are vital to sustainability, social and environmental justice and our collective futures. These include geographies of migration, energy, water, food, climate change, infrastructure, the Anthropocene and the subterranean.

  • Earth Science

    The Earth Science Group research activities span four main areas of expertise: Volcanology and Hazards, Contemporary Environmental Processes, Sub-surface Fluids, and Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoenvironments.

  • Ecology & Conservation

    Our research uses molecular, behavioural and ecological techniques to understand how ecosystems function, how they respond to global change, and how they can be managed to enhance biodiversity and its associated services.

  • Environmental & Biogeochemistry

    We work across contemporary and palaeo timeframes, within the terrestrial, aquatic and deep Earth environments. Our analytical strengths span inorganic chemistry, stable and radioactive isotopes, noble gases, and trace organic analysis.

  • Geospatial Data Science

    We are undertaking research to develop innovative spatial techniques in order to increase our understanding of a wide range of environmental and socio-ecological systems.

  • Plant & Crop Science

    We work from the molecular to the crop scale with researchers and end-users of research, in both the natural (e.g. plant and soil ecology) and social sciences. Our particular strength is applying our research to provide solutions to real-world problems, particularly in relation to Agri-Food Challenges.

  • Political Ecology

    We understand political ecology to coalesce around critiques of the relationship between culture, politics and nature.

  • Soil, Plant & Land Systems

    We work from the molecular to the crop scale with researchers and end-users of research, in both the natural (e.g. plant and soil ecology) and social sciences.

  • Water Science

    We undertake pure and applied research to help improve our understanding of processes that control the movement, availability and quality of water, and the modelling of their influence on other environmental systems.

Harness our Resources

Having access to the right resources can make all the difference to your research – whether it’s a powerful piece of laboratory equipment, a state-of-the-art greenhouse facility, a richly populated data set, or a network of useful contacts.

  • Land Cover Information

    If you are studying land use change, agricultural impacts or catchment management, you could use the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s latest land cover information, including CEH Land Cover® plus: Crops – the first ever detailed crop map of the whole of the UK.