Environmental Sciences PhD
MPhil option available
This course has an MPhil option
PhD student loans
The UK Government will be introducing PhD loans of up to £25,000 to UK nationals, residing in England, for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here.
About the course
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.
MPhil degree option
An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
Our research aims to increase understanding of the links between the environment and human and wildlife health. We also strive to improve human and ecosystem health through applied research that improves the quality of our natural environments; providing cleaner water, air and safer and healthier foods and medicines. We have considerable expertise in chemicals, health and the environment, winning a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research revealing the link between chemicals in rivers and reproductive health. Our researchers have world-leading track records in environmental chemistry, toxicology and ecotoxicology, and our facilities include state-of-the-art equipment for the chemical analysis of samples and molecular and cell biology.
Within Environmental Sciences, we have four main research areas:
We conduct research to improve the forecasting and response to environmental change. Expertise and track records of members are in the complementary areas of predictive environmental and health modelling and disaster management.
Environmental Health and Ecosystems
Our work aims to increase the knowledge of environmental exposures, as well as the biological responses to these exposures and the implications for human and wildlife health through mechanism-based risk assessment. We study chemicals, health and the environment (particularly endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pharmaceuticals and environmental carcinogens) and we develop model systems and assays for screening chemicals. We have expertise in environmental chemistry, toxicology, and ecotoxicology.
Biological Pathways and Systems
Our research in this area aims to provide a strong fundamental biological foundation for prevention science for environmental health. We investigate basic biological processes associated with health and illness, focusing on signalling pathways and systems that are susceptible to the effects of environmental stressors. Particular foci include pathways exploited during the induction of malignant transformation by environmental carcinogens and those exploited by endocrine disrupting chemicals. Our research addresses various levels of biological organization including molecular, cellular, model organism and population, utilising new tools, techniques and model systems both in vitro and in vivo.
The environment must be protected to preserve essential ecosystem functions and to provide for the wellbeing of future generations. We aim to improve environmental quality through a variety of engineering and management approaches aimed at promoting clean and healthy environments and safe and healthy food and medicines. We have particular expertise in the monitoring and improvement of the quality of air and water and in extracting natural products using countercurrent chromatography pioneered at Brunel.
Find out more
Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)
Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure
PhD+ Award – An internship to work in the industry or perform a research outreach or enterprise activity.
PhD Plus is a career development scheme designed to provide an opportunity for excellent PhD students to undertake work experience and mentoring, and to facilitate their transfer into a career area of their choice. The awards are targeted at exceptional PhD students who have submitted their thesis within the expected submission date and will provide up to three months’ funded support for the period after submissions of their thesis and before the confirmation of the award. The precise number awards each year will depend on the quality of the applicants, up to a maximum 8 awards. The maximum amount to be awarded will be in line with RCUK rates for research training support grants: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/training/
Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:
- Career path within academia starting as a University Lecturer/Assistant Professor
- Career progression within research institutes commencing as a post-doc researcher and progressing to senior researcher.
- Career path within government agencies (e.g . DEFRA, Environment Agency, OECD, etc)
- Career path with industry (as toxicologist, regulators, senior research scientists)
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of environmental research, some supervisors may organise a placement at another research institution or industry during the period of study.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
» More about Employability
Entry Criteria 2018/19
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.
As part of our application process for entry on our research degree (MPhil and PhD) programmes, we ask you to provide a 500-1,000 word research statement, excluding any references/bibliography you may include, setting out your research motivation, ideas and aspirations. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU Entry Requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English Language Requirements
- IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)
Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.
However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.
Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English. Find out more information about English course and test options.
Teaching and Assessment
All academic staff in Environmental Sciences are potential supervisors and are listed here. For details of potential research topics please visit this webpage.
Each student will be allocated a supervisory team consisting of the principal supervisor, second supervisor and a Research Development Advisor. The supervisory team will set teaching and learning targets and advise the student how to achieve them. The progress of each student will be assessed by the supervisory team at regular meetings and by a formal Progress Review Panel at 9 months for full-time students (18 months for part-time students) and then annually. All academic supervisors receive university supported training in the supervision of PhD students.
Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team here.
A training programme will be provided by the College to assist students with achieving targets. The programme will include the underpinning principles such as philosophy of science, research integrity, ethics and specialist methodology. Sessions in core, specialist and advanced research methods will prepare students for an independent research career. Students will also enrol in the Graduate School Researcher Development Programme which ensures all students are equipped with generic research skills including presentational skills and impact activities.
Study environment for research students
Find out more: Study environment for research students
Facts and Figures
- Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008. The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
- 54% of our research outputs were classified as Internationally Excellent and 19% classified as World Leading (REF 2014).
- Environmental Sciences research revealing the link between chemicals in rivers and reproductive health won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
Fees for 2018/19 entry
Full time: £4,260 / Part time: £2,130
Full time: £18,000 Part time: £9,000
Full time: £4,195 Part time: £2,097
Full time: £17,500 Part time: £8,750
We offer a range of PhD studentships, partial scholarships, and academic prizes, to help with your research fees. Explore external funding, particularly the Research Councils, as well as other support.
Additional course related costs
Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.