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Life as a PhD student

You will join a vibrant and diverse doctoral community within the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, working alongside postdoctoral researchers and academic staff.

Within the Department, we hold a fortnightly Postgraduate Discussion Group, which provides an informal peer support network and invites visiting speakers to discuss themes relating to personal and career development and wellbeing (e.g. working with the media, achieving a good work-life balance).

Other social activities are also organised by and for PhD students, for example yoga classes and socials.

Since beginning my studies in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science, there has always been a strong sense of community. Fortnightly discussion groups are organised with topics covering the various PhD life hacks that we all encounter. Some of these sessions are run by fellow PhD students but some have also been taken by staff who are able to offer invaluable advice.

Ben Jones

PhD student

Join the University's doctoral community

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School coordinates 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 PhD student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

Flexible PhD study that fits your circumstances

We offer both full-time and part-time modes of study, so you can fit your PhD around other commitments such as work and caring responsibilities.

We also offer a PhD by Distance, where you can spend the majority of your time studying at another location. You will normally have a supervisor/mentor at that location. In order to be accepted for the PhD by Distance programme, there must be an academic or financial rationale; the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Learn more about part-time study at Reading

Learn more about the PhD by Distance programme

Modern, specialised facilities

The Department is based in a custom-designed building with specialised research facilities. These include laboratories and dedicated instrumentation.

You will be provided with a desk in a shared office. You will have access to a wide range of training, as well as specialist facilities and research collections. 

You'll also have access to Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others.  It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.

Find out more about our facilities

Presenting your research

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

The School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science holds an annual Postgraduate Research Students Conference, where first-year PhD students are expected to prepare and present a poster outlining their research. In your final year you will give a podium presentation.

The Department encourages you to attend conferences and other events to widen your network of contacts. We can assist with arranging travel and accommodation.

The Department holds a regular research seminar series (comprising external speakers and internal "work in progress" seminars). PhD students and staff organise regular reading groups to discuss current papers.

You may also have to chance to develop your teaching skills, both by taking courses run by the Centre for Quality Support and Development (CQSD) and by teaching on undergraduate courses.

How we support you

You'll receive support from our Department as well as the Graduate School, which is the University of Reading's hub for all doctoral activity. 

Why study with us?

We undertake social and scientific research on issues of major cultural and environmental importance.

PhD opportunities

We offer PhD programmes in environmental science, physical geography, human geography and soil science.
Athena SWAN Silver Award