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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Holocene Climates is no longer accepting new applications.

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.


Students wishing to continue to a PhD in Geography must reapply for admission to a PhD via the University admissions process, taking the funding and application deadlines into consideration. To be accepted they must satisfy a good pass level in the MPhil, with particular attention given to the level of performance in their dissertation and demonstrate a good reason to continue at PhD. However, readmission is not automatic for high-performing MPhil students. In addition, a student must demonstrate suitability to undertake a PhD and make a full specification of their research proposal which allows the suitability of the topic to be assessed. They must also have the agreement of a supervisor to supervise the PhD student, based on the appropriateness of the PhD proposal to the expertise of the academic staff in the department.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

Key Information

11 Months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Geography

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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