Self-Funded PhDs

As part of our vibrant community of PhD students, you will make a direct contribution to the world-class research of the Graduate School, and develop the skills you need to enjoy a rewarding career.

Whatever your field of interest in relation to the environment – whether in the natural or social sciences – the size and scope of the Graduate School for the Environment means that you are guaranteed to find a suitably stimulating research project to work on.

Support structure

As a PhD student, you will immediately become a valued member of a research group, each of which is headed up by one of our internationally respected academics and supported by an array of post-doctoral research associates and technicians.

You will make your personal contribution to the group – and be taught the research skills you need – under the guidance of one or more supervisors specifically chosen to suit your area of interest. It is with the support of your supervisors and your research group colleagues that you will be able to extract full value from your time at the Graduate School.

How to Apply

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them, with an outline of your research interests and a copy of your CV, to discuss your application.

As part of your discussions with potential supervisors and the application process we will require a research proposal on the area(s) you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor(s) for your research.

It is recommended that a research proposal includes the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the research in this area
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the research area which you would like to address in your PhD
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue
  • a section detailing the methods you envisage using in your studies
  • who within LEC appears best qualified to supervise you
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections

Further information on writing a research proposal. Please note that your proposal is open to negotiation with your supervisor(s) and may change before and even during your PhD.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s), which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method. The PhD programmes available in LEC are PhD in Biological Sciences, Environmental Science and Geography.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • a personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree, including a section on how you will fund your PhD study
  • a CV
  • a research proposal with named potential supervisors; Link back to research proposal section
  • degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying
  • for transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required
  • two references
  • copies of English language test results, if English is not your first language. Lancaster University accepts these English language tests

Applications will be considered once complete. As part of the application process applicants will require an interview with the potential supervisors, this will be either in person or by phone or Skype.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but you have to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, a July start date will be considered. If you are applying for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend that you apply as early as possible.

Information on the funding available, tuition fees and living costs in Lancaster is at Postgraduate Fees and Funding. Please note LEC does not have funding available for applicants who apply with their own proposal, because all funding is allocated to the specific projects which are advertised at Funded PhDs (link to the page). Therefore, applicants will need to obtain their own funding; typically, this will be from their own country.

Book a place on one of our Open Days - on Wednesday 27th February 2019 or Saturday 13th July 2019 - to discover how we can provide the opportunity for you to develop your knowledge and further your career.

Study Areas

Research Groups

In each of the research groups, you can find a list of academics which may match your area of interest. You can also browse our full list of .

Atmosphere, Climate & Pollution

Critical Geographies

Earth Science

Ecology & Conservation

Environmental & Biogeochemistry

Geospatial Data Science

Plant & Crop Science

Political Ecology

Soil, Plant & Land Systems

Water Science

PhD Supervisors

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies or postdoctoral research in the field of biosphere-atmosphere interactions as a computer modeller or experimentalist please contact me. I am particularly interested in research that focuses on the the impact of air pollution on crop production, forestry and ecosystems or the explores the nexus of urban air quality, green infrastructure and health.

View Kirsti's profile

Opportunites may be available in palaeolimnology, diatom ecology and the development of stable isotope methods

View Philip's profile

Funding for a couple of projects should be clarified by 2018

View Simon's profile

Critical projects on Climate and Migration, Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change, Political Subjectivity and New Social Movements in the Anthropocene

View Giovanni's profile

I would be very interested in supervising possible PhD projects in remote sensing, GIS and spatial modelling, particularly in the following areas: (1) Remote sensing of plant responses to environmental stress (in natural, agricultural and forest systems; (2) Modelling the relationships between spatial properties and ecosystem processes (especially in relation to biodiversity and other ecosystem services); (3) Applying geospatial technologies across different environmental systems (particularly using Earth Observation, GIS and spatial modelling to understand natural and anthropogenic environmental systems). Please contact me to discuss possible PhD projects in these areas.

View Alan's profile

I am interested in supervising projects that relate to photosynthesis, crop productivity and the interaction of plants with the surrounding environment, in particular light and temperature.

View Elizabete's profile

I have supervised 13 PhD/MPhil graduates. I currently supervise 3 PhD/MPhil students and am willing to supervise further applicants

View Nick's profile

I am interested in supervising possible PhD projects on all aspects of the political ecology of resource extraction. In particular, these might relate to (1) sub-Saharan Africa; (2) the role of the state in resource geographies (in particular, resource nationalism); (3) the political emergence of deep-sea mining. Please contact me to discuss possible PhD projects in these areas.

View John's profile

I am always keen to hear from talented students who would like to take up a PhD studentship on any of the following topics: (1) understanding specific aspects of volcanic and glacio-volcanic processes by using field and laboratory approaches, (2) volcanic ash dispersal in the atmosphere, (3) the impact of volcanic ash on vegetation, soils and ice sheets, and (4) the evolution of Andean volcanoes. Please contact me by email if you are interested.

View Jennie's profile

Environmental chemistry; chemicals and pollution management

View Kevin's profile

Self funded projects in experimental physical volcanology are available. Please contact Steve to discuss.

View Stephen's profile

Why does C4 photosynthesis rarely evolve in trees? (

View Marjorie's profile

Magnetic analysis and quantification of atmospheric particulate pollutants
Magnetic sourcing of mineral dusts in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica

View Barbara's profile

Political ecology of natural resource extraction in Africa
Neoliberal conservation and the emergent green economy
Land-grabbing and agrofuel capitalism

View Benjamin's profile

Fully funded international PhD studentship available to start in Oct 2018. The PhD ‘The role of Amazon wetland trees in methane production and emissions’ will continue the work that was recently published in Nature. The student will be part of field campaigns in one of the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet - Amazonian floodplains. Please get in touch if you are interested.

View Sunitha's profile

• Social and policy dimensions of Indonesian peatland fires and haze • Conservation rule breaking, corruption and governance of illegal resource access • How ecosystem service concepts/valuation are understood and used by policy makers, prosecutors and judges • Governance of harvest and trade of wild, ornamental marine fish in the Philippines

View Jacob's profile

PhD students conduct research in my areas of research interest and prospective students should contact me to discuss their ideas.

View John's profile

Transgenerational defence priming in plants. Crop protection methods based on defence priming. Effects of biotic interactions on seed dormancy.

View Mike's profile

Competition funded PhD projects (European Students Only): The rise of private slum developers in Bangladesh and India: heroes or villains. Visit here:

View Manoj's profile

All available PhD positions starting 2015/2016 are now filled.

View Emma's profile

I am willing to consider PhD projects in the following areas:
(i) Biodegradation of contaminants in soils.
(ii) Fate and behaviour of persistent organic contaminant residues in soil.
(iii) Bioavailability and bioaccessibility of contaminants in soils.
(iv) Risk assessment and remediation of contaminated soils.
(v) Organic wastes and bioenergy.
(vi) Bioenergy residues as soil amendments for soil and food security .

View Kirk's profile

I am willing to consider proposals for projects on any topic related to avian or mammalian ecology.

View Stuart's profile

a. Priming of plant defence
b. The role of volatile organic chemicals in plant defence
c. Novel methods for the early detection of plant biotic attack

View Jane's profile

View Gabriela's profile

Magma-geothermal system interactions in Iceland | Tuffisite veins and silicic conduit dynamics | Silicic lava emplacement | Volcano-ice interactions | Experimental crystallisation and vesiculation of magma |

View Hugh's profile

I am currently supervising:
- Stephen Jackson: Rhetorics and scandal regarding climate change (with Prof Tim Dant)
- Leigh Martindale: Eating the Anthropocene (with Prof Nigel Clark)

I would be interested in proposals for doctoral students in the following areas:
- Political economy of science, technology and innovation, particularly regarding the life sciences and/or climate change (mobilities, energy, food)
- Cultural political economy, governmentality and innovation
- Mobilities innovation
- Low-carbon transitions
- Science, technology and innovation in China
- Cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan sociology
- Philosophy of social science, especially regarding issues of critical realism

View David's profile

Numerical modelling of atmospheric composition and air quality. Key areas of interest include tropospheric chemistry and transport, chemical weather, urban air quality, climate change, atmosphere-biosphere interactions, Earth System modelling, uncertainty quantification and model parameterization.

View Oliver's profile

host-parasite interactions
insect ecology
wildlife disease ecology
behavioural ecology

View Kenneth's profile

I'm always keen to hear from talented science students interested in climate science, Earth system modelling and atmospheric composition. If you're interested in working with me, please get in touch via email to discuss opportunities.

View Paul's profile

Research Training

We take care of all of our students at Lancaster University. The Faculty of Science and Technology runs a series of training sessions designed to improve your skills and abilities during your PhD.

Learn more

Doctoral Training

You can also apply for a PhD at one of the Doctoral Training Centres and Partnerships that work with the Graduate School for the Environment.