Geography and Palaeoecology: Environmental Change MPhil

Our research focuses on how Earth's environments have changed, or are changing, over a range of timescales. Our aim is to maximise intellectual excellence in our research by building on strong biological-ecological, geomorphological and chronological traditions in late Quaternary, Holocene and contemporary studies.

We welcome postgraduate interest in the following areas, where cluster members have international reputations:

  • Carbon dynamics and climate change
  • Geoforensics
  • Geographical information studies and geostatistics
  • Glacial and periglacial landscapes
  • Past and present human-environment interactions
  • Past climate and environmental change (using geo-morphological, biological, isotopic, sedimentological and chemical proxies) in North West Europe, the Mediterranean countries, North and South East Asia, Africa, North and South America
  • Scientific dating and chronological techniques
  • Stone weathering in natural and urban environments


The cluster has a vibrant palaeoecology research group studying past environment and climate change, using a variety of records from around the world. The Palaeoecology Centre was awarded the UK Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2000, and in 2003 the group was awarded £6.2m to set up the Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology (14CHRONO) funding the establishment of an AMS radiocarbon-dating laboratory (only the third such facility in the UK and the first in Ireland) and new research on radiocarbon, dendrochronology, tephrochronology, statistical methods of chronology construction, stable isotope analysis and palaeoecological and environmental change.

At Queen's, palaeoecology complements archaeology by reconstructing the past Quaternary environments in which humans and their societies evolved, and by assessing the impact of human activities on the natural environment. In this latter area, we work closely with the Past Cultural Change cluster, (see Archaeology: Past Cultural Change). The cluster also includes one of the main UK centres for researching stone decay in natural and built environments, using purpose-built laboratories for experimental weathering studies, environmental simulation and the analysis and digital documentation of geomaterials.

This work is carried out in collaboration with industry and, in particular, those with a duty of care for natural and built heritage. We have received substantial Research Council and EU support including funding for knowledge transfer, for which we received a UK Knowledge Transfer Award, and the commercialisation of survey and monitoring technologies. This is a core element in the School's Heritage Science Masters programme and with staff actively engaged in heritage conservation with a variety of institutional and commercial partners. International level collaboration with institutions in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, East, South and South East Asia, New Zealand, South America, the Middle East and the USA.

Career Prospects

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

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MPhil Award
September Start
Full-time Study Mode
2 years Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

Entry Requirements

A research degree offers you the opportunity to develop your research skills and prove yourself as a researcher. Queen's is committed to the enhancement of research training and teaching and offers postgraduate research opportunities across all fields of study. The following postgraduate research study routes for this subject area are:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)


The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

Mode of study/Duration

Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil/MD (or part-time equivalent).

English Language Requirements

International students (where English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes. Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component (*taken within the last 2 years) is required. For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme.

Please click the links below for more information:

English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level.
Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


For fees, funding and further information see:


  • Queen's Direct Applications Portal
  • Steps to Postgraduate Study Guidance (HEFCE)

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