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Studying at PhD level – University of Reading

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Studying at PhD level

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over 3-4 years and part-time over 5-6 years.


Modes of study

Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the majority of their time at another location and normally have a supervisor/mentor at that location. There must be an academic or financial rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Additionally, some of our PhD students are involved in interdisciplinary projects or projects with an external partner. In these cases they may be supported by a supervisor from outside the University, and interact with a wider range of staff.


As a PhD student in the Meteorology Department, you will be provided with a desk in a shared office. Additionally, you will be given a desktop computer and access to our large shared computational cluster, as well as any appropriate software deemed relevant to your topic of study. Kitchen facilities, large coffee areas, and meeting spaces are available in all buildings, and a well-stocked departmental library is provided.

As a postgraduate research student at Reading you will have access to the Graduate School. At the heart of this is Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others. Old Whiteknights House is a beautiful Victorian building that has been carefully modernised to provide a range of excellent resources and amenities. It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.


Training is an intrinsic part of your development as a researcher. In the first two years of your degree course, you will follow a programme of relevant postgraduate lecture courses agreed between you and your supervisors.

You will also be asked to choose courses on the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP). Depending on the funder for your PhD, further training via attendance at advanced courses, meetings and workshops may also form part of your PhD programme.

The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops that have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

  • Preparing to teach – A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.
  • Developing your potential as a leader – This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.
  • Academic English Programme – Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.
  • PhD Plus – A scheme specifically for international doctoral researchers who are lecturers in their home country.

Presenting your research

Over the course of your PhD you will communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from elsewhere.

The Department encourages you to attend conferences, summer schools, and other events to widen your network of contacts. To this end we assist with arranging travel and accommodation.met-wave

The Meteorology Department PhD students organise their own seminar and discussion group where you can talk about your work in a friendly, informal atmosphere. You will take part in a departmental PhD conference-style event in your second year, and give a departmental poster presentation in your third year. At an appropriate point in your studies you will be invited to give a full lunchtime seminar in the department's regular series. There are also opportunities to teach on undergraduate courses.

Dedicated support service

You will be assigned at least one supervisor within the Department of Meteorology who will normally meet with you once a week to provide support. Additionally, you will be allocated a monitoring committee of two people who will meet you twice a year to ensure that you are on track with your studies and help you to resolve any issues you may have with progression or supervision.

The Department can also provide special needs support, which you find out more about using the contact details on this page. You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office.

You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office. Located in the Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Office provides advice and support for current and prospective students. It is a key point of contact for any doctoral researchers who have questions relating to registration, student status, immigration, studentships, University policy and procedures.

Doctoral research community

You will join a vibrant doctoral community within the Department of Meteorology, working alongside postdoctoral researchers and academic staff. PhD students within the Department arrange a weekly seminar and discussion session open to all students.

Our thriving community of PhD researchers showcase recent work and insight via our Social Metwork department blog.

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School co-ordinates a range of activities that bring students together from across the University. These include the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event that showcases the variety and excellence of postgraduate research taking place at Reading. The conference features a number of competitions and presentations including the PhD researcher of the year award.

Another event that celebrates academic excellence is the Graduate School's annual public lecture – the Fairbrother Lecture – delivered by a current or recent postgraduate research student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

Graduate School homepage regularly promotes the achievements and success of doctoral researchers through the Graduate School Bulletin.

English language support

The University's International Study and Language Institute can help you develop your academic English skills and offers a range of courses and programmes to suit your specific needs, if English is not your first language.

English Writing and Language Practice programme

This six-week programme has been specifically designed for postgraduate researchers. It is supplemented by one-to-one advisory sessions, helping you to apply what you have learned to your thesis writing.

Academic English Programme

The Academic English Programme (AEP) features courses aimed at building your confidence in spoken language situations, developing your accuracy in the English language and improving your writing skills.

Life at reading

The University of Reading offers the peace and tranquillity of an award-winning parkland campus, just a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre. Our thriving community is made up of students from around the world, and our range of clubs and societies offer many opportunities to meet like-minded people.

How to apply and entry requirements

We offer a broad range of PhD opportunities in the department.

1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programme, prior specific knowledge of the research field is not required but we expect you to have either a 1st or upper 2nd class degree, or a master's with Distinction or Merit, in physics, mathematics, or a closely related physical or environmental science.

If you are from outside of the UK, an equivalent level of first or master's degree is required. You will also need to demonstrate you have a certain level of proficiency with written and spoken English.

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Graduate School website.

2. Select a topic

There are different routes for selecting a PhD research topic:

PhD projects covering specific research topics can be found on our  Phd Projects Page - many of these have funding associated with them to cover tuition fees and living expenses (note there are often eligibility criteria for this funding) - see individual projects for more details.

If you have a clear idea about a research project of your choice, you should first determine whether the project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you. You can receive feedback by contacting the department.

3. Identify a Supervisor

Specific research topics come with their own supervisory team, so there is often no need to identify a supervisor yourself. If you wish to propose your own research topic however, please contact the Department's PhD Admissions Tutor by emailing Chris Westbrook or calling +44 (0) 118 378 5570 and we will identify a suitable supervisor for you.

You could also get in touch with the potential supervisor if you have someone specific in mind, but this should be in addition to contacting the PhD Admissions Tutor.

It is not essential to communicate directly with the Department before submitting your application, but many candidates find it helpful.

4. Make an application

Apply for the PhD in Atmosphere, oceans and climate or the PhD in Space weather and solar-terrestrial physics by using the PhD and professional doctorate online application programme.

This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including a CV, BSc and, where appropriate, master's transcripts, and the details of two appropriate referees. Although you will be working with a specific department or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally.

We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate school or department.

Although most new students join the PhD programme in September, it is possible to start your studies at any point during the academic year.

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