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PhD programmes – University of Reading

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PhD programmes

As a postgraduate research student in the Department of Meteorology at Reading, you will be part of a large and vibrant community. You will work alongside academic staff and a thriving group of postdoctoral researchers who recently completed their PhDs.

The Department of Meteorology offers the following PhD programmes;

  • PhD in Atmosphere, oceans and climate
  • PhD in Space weather and solar-terrestrial physics

We are also involved in;

Email us for more information about our PhD programmes.

An introduction to the Department

The Department of Meteorology has a long and established track record of internationally renowned research, working with a wide variety of industrial and academic partners to achieve significant social and economic benefits.met-weathervane

We are part of the larger School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences, which includes several national research centres. We have an active community of 50+ PhD students.

As a Meteorology PhD student, you will work closely together with your supervisors. In addition, you will have a monitoring committee to provide support and follow your progress in 6-monthly meetings.

You will have a very exciting range of opportunities to work with other researchers across Reading's Environment Theme and to take part in multi-disciplinary training activities that are organised by the department.

"The skills learnt and the scientists that I was lucky enough to meet and work with during my PhD gave me the skills and confidence to go out into the post-PhD world".

Dr Nathanael Melia, former PhD student


World-leading research

The Department of Meteorology is world-renowned for its pioneering research on the fundamental dynamics and physics of weather and climate. Our research divisions and research groups tackle some of the most critical environmental issues facing society today, including understanding and predicting climate, hazardous weather and air pollution.


met-sunThe latest Research Excellence Framework assessment (2014) recognised 86% of our research as World-leading or Internationally Excellent. Research activity within the Department is broad and extensive and covers the areas of weather, climate, earth observation and space weather, with regular seminar programmes taking place in all research areas.

We have active collaborations with other departments within the University, for example Mathematics and Geography, and with external institutions including the Met Office, the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, and UK Universities, for example the Universities of Oxford, Leeds, Exeter, or Imperial College London.

We also incorporate Europe's largest academic group in data assimilation. Its research not only ties together the main themes in meteorology (weather, climate, earth observation and space weather), but reaches across into mathematics, statistics and beyond.

What we offer

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over three years and part-time over four to six years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, or at a distance for students who live outside the UK.

We encourage our students to finish their PhD in three and a half years. It is also possible to study for a PhD with us while working away with your current employer if they have the right facilities in place.


Over the course of your PhD you will also have opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences, for example the Royal Meteorology Society, the European Geosciences Union or American Geophysical Union conferences, project workshops, and visit or host researchers from other institutions.


As many of our research students have little prior knowledge in atmospheric or oceanic sciences, the first two terms are normally partly occupied with a selection of master's courses. You will also have access to a programme of transferable skills organised by the Graduate School.


Our PhD students go on to work in academia as postdoctoral researchers, but also quickly find employment in public sector policy and research institutions, and industries impacted by changes in weather and climate such as weather forecasting, risk analysis, insurance and re-insurance, oil extraction and mining, and even sport organisations. Our training in mathematical and programming techniques and problem-solving skills also open opportunities in finance and IT.

The latest Graduate Outcomes Survey has shown that 98% of  leavers are in work and/or study 15 months after the end of their course.* 

Broaden your horizons through our departmental seminar series

During term time, we hold weekly departmental and lunchtime seminars featuring guest speakers from the meteorological and climate world and from within the Department. These seminars are open to everyone, and are a great way to learn more about a particular topic or issue. We update our list of seminars at the beginning of each term.


The Department leads the Doctoral Training Partnership the Science of the Environment: Natural and Anthropogenic pRocesses, Impacts and Opportunities (SCENARIO) with three further Host Partners (where lead supervision of students will also take place): the University of Surrey, the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the NERC British Geological Survey (BGS). NERC are fully funding 12 studentships per year and we increase the student cohort with co-sponsorship.

As a graduate of SCENARIO, you will play a major role in advancing the quantitative science of the environment, in understanding the interaction between people and environmental change, and in the exploitation of environmental science and engineering by industry and policy makers. You will become one of tomorrow's leaders in the ever expanding, and increasingly high profile, field of environmental science.

The scientific scope of SCENARIO is broad, spanning the physical, chemical and biological processes within the overarching theme of "environmental risk and sustainability" over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. SCENARIO supervisors have expertise spanning the science of atmosphere, oceans, ice, hydrology, soil, ecosystems and space weather.

"The University of Reading was my first choice for a PhD in Meteorology. The academic opportunities are amazing here, and the vibrant social activities always keep me smiling."

Kate Fradley, PhD student

Research groups

Research in the department is organised into several research groups, which overlap and interact significantly:

Departmental and lunchtime seminars

During term time, we hold weekly departmental and lunchtime seminars featuring guest speakers from the meteorological and climate world and from within the Department. These seminars are open to everyone, and are a great way to learn more about a particular topic or issue. We update our list of seminars at the beginning of each term. You can attend a seminar before coming to study with us; it's a great way to meet people in the Department and find out more about our work.

*Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18; First Degree, Postgraduate (Taught) and Postgraduate (Research) responders from Meteorology

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