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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Holocene Climates is no longer accepting new applications.


The course consists of lectures, seminars, laboratory and methods practicals, a dissertation residential, and a research dissertation. The dissertation residential consists of an intense few days of individual and group learning, focused on developing the dissertation proposal and oral presentations.  A 15,000-word dissertation requires students to identify, design and independently execute a small, empirically-grounded research study related to the course. Students will be supervised through the process from initial question identification through to the design and execution of research.

One to one supervision

Students will have 2 hours of individual or small group supervision during each of Michaelmas and Lent Terms and up to 4 hours of one-on-one supervision in Easter Term for their dissertation.


Students will receive between 4 and 6 hours of formal lectures per week during Michaelmas and Lent Terms. These lectures include substantive subject material about Holocene Climates (e.g., climate proxy characteristics, climate reconstruction methods, climate model simulations, time-series analyses, climate forcing theories, climate dynamics concepts, case studies on volcano-climate-human interactions, and more general controversies related to the natural and anthropogenic changes of the Earth's climate system), as well as a core module on “Interdisciplinary Concepts”, which is a shared component with the MPhil in Anthropocene Studies. This joint module introduces students to key ideas about the production and politics of scientific knowledge, and about human-environment interactions and their relevance for society.


In Michaelmas and Lent Term, students will have between 6 and 8 hours of Natural Science Laboratory and Natural Science Methods sessions.

Posters and Presentations

Students will participate in a few days of intense individual and group learning in the dissertation residential, focused on developing their dissertation proposal and presenting it orally.


Students will receive written and oral feedback on their formative essay submitted during Michaelmas term.  They will receive written feedback on their examination answers, their assessed coursework essay and on their dissertation. Students will deliver an oral presentation about their dissertation plans, and receive feedback on this. They will also be required to submit a dissertation proposal to be discussed with their dissertation supervisor. Students will also receive written termly progress reports.


Thesis / Dissertation

A 15,000-word dissertation. An oral examination of the dissertation will take place at the discretion of the examiners.


One essay of up to 4,000 words.

Written examination

One 2-hour written examination.

Key Information

11 Months full-time

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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