2020 start

Polar and Alpine Change

Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences

We produce graduates who can apply their expertise to real-world problems.
Student participating in fieldwork in glacial territory

Course description

This unique programme is aimed at training graduates from a range of scientific disciplines who wish to pursue a research career in cold-regions science, notably within the disciplines of glaciology, glacial geomorphology, polar climatology/ oceanography, environmental science, polar biogeochemical processes, or their intersections. 

The programme’s underlying theme is contemporary, as its key interest is to explore the expressions, mechanisms and impacts of rapid ongoing changes in our planet’s cold regions.

An integral part of the programme is the Arctic/Alpine field course, which is usually in early to mid-summer. The costs for this field course are not included in the tuition fee.

You'll gain an in-depth knowledge of the location you visit. You'll also develop skills in relevant research approaches and techniques. You'll gain experience in project development and field application of research skills and techniques, and you'll learn how to analyse and communicate your research findings.

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Core modules

  • Research Design
  • Current Issues in Polar and Alpine Science
  • Arctic/Alpine Field Course
  • Polar and Alpine Change Research Project


Modules are delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and independent study.


The research project is assessed by oral presentation of mid-project findings, submission of a project report in the summer and by a poster presentation of project findings.


1 year full-time

The department has a wide range of expertise which meant that there were lots of interesting areas to pick from when selecting dissertation projects. The field course was also a huge bonus and I really enjoyed spending the summer studying in Svalbard, being able to see the environments and processes that I had learnt about and doing fieldwork in beautiful locations.

Emma Lewington
MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change

Entry requirements

A minimum of a good upper second-class honours undergraduate degree showing first-class potential (notably in research) from a UK university (or an international equivalent) in relevant subject areas including (but not restricted to): physical geography, environmental/earth/ocean sciences, geology, physics, and natural science.

English language requirements

Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

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+44 114 222 7900

The course information set out here may change before you begin, particularly if you are applying significantly in advance of the start date.