Duration: 4 years full time
Institution code: R72
UK fees*: £4,712
International/EU fees**: £23,400
The Department of Geography is in the top tier of UK departments and has consistently been identified as one of the highest performing in successive research assessments (most recently, ranked 5th in REF2021). We have over 30 members of academic staff and notable research concentrations in Quaternary science, social, cultural, and historical geography, the GeoHumanities, geopolitics and security, development studies and sustainability. Ours is a vibrant postgraduate community of over 120 students, including some 80 PhD candidates, drawn from across the world. Subject to eligibility criteria, students can access funding from AHRC, ESRC, NERC, and EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres.
PhD students sit at the heart of our research culture and are supported in their work by world-leading academics and a dedicated team of technical staff. PhD students enjoy access to well-equipped laboratory and computing facilities and benefit from the exceptional range of partnerships the department has developed with charities, NGOs, industry, government departments, museums, and the creative sector.
The department’s research environment is driven by a number of well-established research centres and groups:
- the Centre for the GeoHumanities
- the Centre for Quaternary Research
- the Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice research group
- the Social, Cultural and Historical Geography research group.
Research facilities and environment
The Department of Geography is well provisioned with computing and laboratory facilities to support its PhD researchers.
The department has a number of scientific laboratories supporting cutting-edge research in physical geography and Quaternary science, including geochemistry, geochronology (including luminescence dating, varve analysis, and tephrochronology), paleoecology, micromorphology, and sedimentology.
The department’s Geospatial and Visual Methods Laboratory is a dedicated postgraduate computing facility consisting of high-spec Macs and PCs with Geographical Information Systems software, advanced cartographic and image handling packages, and audio-visual editing software for the analysis of qualitative data.
The Humphries Graphics Suite houses specialist large-format printing and encapsulating services.
The facility is managed by the department’s Graphics Technician who can advise on the use of graphics software for producing diagrams, data displays, and artwork for publication.
PhD researchers also benefit from Royal Holloway’s postgraduate-focused facilities in the Bloomsbury area of central London, world-class research and library facilities in London more generally, and vibrant programmes of workshops and events organised by the department’s research groups.
PhD researchers are ordinarily assessed on the basis of a written thesis of monograph form and of not more than 100,000 words in length. Alternatively, for students engaged in practice-based research, Royal Holloway is one of the few geography departments internationally to offer assessment on the basis of a substantial body of performance or creative work, together with an accompanying written submission of 30,000–60,000 words. This mode of assessment may be particularly appropriate for candidates within the field of GeoHumanities. It is also possible, with permission, to submit a thesis that comprises a collection of papers, brought together via an introduction, methodology, critical evaluation and conclusion.
The Department would ordinarily expect applicants to hold a UK 1st- or upper 2nd-class undergraduate degree (or a recognised international equivalent) together with a relevant Master’s degree (at Pass level or higher). Professional experience, particularly in the case of applicants wishing to pursue a practice-based PhD, will be considered in the absence of a Masters degree.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
- TOEFL ib: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
Our graduates have entered into a wide range of careers, within academia and beyond, including positions at the British Library, the Department for International Development, commercial consultancy, NGOs, think-tanks, major cultural institutions and museums, and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).
A significant number of our graduates have remained in academia, going on to secure postdoctoral research positions and lectureships in a wide variety of disciplines. Supervisors work closely with PhD researchers to explore and support their career ambitions. PhD researchers have full access to the College’s Careers and Employability Service and many choose to take up the opportunity of research-related placements in relevant organisations during the course of their studies.
Fees & funding
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £4,712
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,400
Other essential costs***: There are no additional costs greater than £50 per item.
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.
All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such rise will be made clear on the relevant coursefinder listing for your year of entry, at the earliest opportunity. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the UKRI website.
** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.
Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your research degree. The upper limit of any such rise will be made clear on the relevant coursefinder listing for your year of entry, at the earliest opportunity.