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Research opportunities in the School of Ocean Sciences


The School specialises in the areas listed below. Visit the School research pages and School academic staff pages for further details.

Candidates seeking entry onto PhD and other research degrees are encouraged to present research proposals related to these areas of specialism.

  • Catchment and Coastel Processes
  • Earth System Science and Climate Change
  • Marine Ecosystems: Conservation and Resource Management
  • Marine Environment and Evolutionary Biology
  • Ocean Physics

Entry requirements

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email

Fees & Scholarships

Please take a look at our Fees & Scholarships pages for details.

How to apply

Step 1 – Select your research topic

You have two options with regards the selection of your research topic;

Option 1

Prepare your Research Proposal, based on the research expertise at the School.

Option 2

Occasionally, the University advertises PhD Studentships. Studentships are funded / sponsored PhD placements which cover tuition fees and sometimes living costs, usually for a period of 3 years. They are offered for specific research projects. Studentships are advertised on the University website and Academic Schools’ websites and there is normally a deadline for submitting applications. The terms and conditions of Studentships vary and may become available at different times of the year.

If you are applying for a Studentship, enter the name of the studentship on the application form.

Step 2 – Prepare your documentation

You will need to gather the following documentation to present with your application:

  • Bachelor degree certificate and transcript
  • Masters degree certificate and transcript (if undertaken)
  • English language test certificate (if undertaken)
  • Academic reference / support letter
  • Confirmation of funding / sponsorship (if applicable)
  • Passport
  • Research Proposal (if you are NOT selecting a project from the Directory of PhD opportunities or applying for a Studentship). Click here for guidance about how to write a good research proposal.

Step 3 – Apply Online

International students have two options when applying;

Apply online

Option 1 – Apply online yourself

Option 2 – Apply online with the help of a recruitment agent

  • If you would like help in completing and managing your application you may seek help from one of our authorised representatives or agents. To see a list of our representatives for your country please visit the Country pages.

Application advice

Applications for research degrees differ substantially from applications for taught courses such as Masters degrees. Although the application form is the same, the way in which you approach your application can make all the difference.

Applying for a self-funded or externally-funded Research Degree

As with all of our courses, you can apply to fund yourself through a PhD/MPhil at Bangor, or you may already have sourced external funding (e.g. from your employer or government), and we warmly welcome all expressions of interest in so doing. However, rather than simply filling in an application form, there are a few steps that you can take in order that your application stands a greater chance of being successful.

All PhD/MPhil students require supervision from at least one academic member of staff at the University, and if you are considering a PhD/MPhil, you will already have a good idea of the specific area or theme that you want to research. In order to ascertain that we hold sufficient expertise in your chosen topic to provide supervision, you should first look at our staff pages. This will provide you with a breakdown of each staff member’s area of academic focus.

Once you have found a member of staff whose research interests broadly accord with your own, you should contact them directly with a concise research ‘brief’ that outlines your proposal and ask whether s/he would consider supervising your project. If the academic expresses his/her interest, you may then further discuss your ideas and develop a full PhD/MPhil research proposal.

At this stage, you should formally apply online for the PhD/MPhil programme. You should fill the form out thoroughly, including academic references, your research proposal and the name of the academic member of staff under whose supervision you intend the research to be conducted.

Your research proposal

A good research proposal is essential if you are applying for a PhD or MPhil. The proposal should include:

  1. Overview – give a brief abstract of the subject area you wish to research and include information on the key theoretical, policy or empirical debates that will be addressed.
  2. Planning – you need to demonstrate that you are aware of the research timescales and have a plan in place to conduct your work. You need to demonstrate that the research is manageable in the given time period.
  3. Literature references – you need to show that your planned area of research has not been studied before. Provide references to key articles and texts relevant to your area of study.
  4. Methodology – you need to show that you are aware of the methodological tools available and have identified which ones would be suitable for your research.

When do I Apply?

You can apply at any time of the year.

It is possible to start a PhD degree at any point in the year at most academic Schools, subject to agreement with the supervisor.

We advise that you submit your application in enough time to:

  • organise funding
  • undertake an English course
  • obtain documents such as transcripts and references required for meeting the conditions of the offer
  • apply for a visa
  • make accommodation arrangements

Further information

Admission related queries

If you need any assitance in completing your application, contact the International Admissions Team on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email

Green Energy, Weather Forecasts & Climate Change: Ocean Modelling is the Answer

Partner: State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science at Xiamen University, China

Principal Investigator: Prof. Tom Rippeth, School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University; email:

Modelling the turbulence in the oceans can tell us many things about our environment, and how we may use these findings to better support our management of the environment, such as where to site off-shore marine renewable energy plants.

The interaction of the oceans with other earth systems not only affects our weather, but the global cycling of Carbon, as the oceans act as a major sink for atmospheric Carbon. Rising temperatures and changes in the weather as a consequence of increasing atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are well documented, but did you know that approximately one third of the CO2 is absorbed by the oceans? Whilst this is good news in that the air temperatures have not risen as rapidly as they could have, it does mean that seawater has become more acidic.

Ocean turbulence modelling at Bangor University accurately predicts the movement of heat, nutrients and pollutants in shelf seas (i.e. marginal seas adjacent to land), and it is critical that we understand how these factors affect the climate (for example the role of tides in driving ocean mixing in the polar oceans).

Photo 1: Inquisitive Polar Bears Take a Closer Look at the Bangor Research Expedition

Our research has resulted in improved models for ocean mixing in the marine environment, and the data generated has made a significant contribution to the General Ocean Turbulence Model (GOTM), which is regarded as the ‘gold standard’ in turbulence modelling, and is used by the UK Met Office for their short-range ocean and climate forecasting, and daily costal sea and ecosystem forecasting. Direct impacts on the development of policy, European law enforcement and the growth of off-shore renewable energy (environmental impact assessments) have been seen; in addition to uses for search and rescue activities, ice forecasts and the biodiversity of shelf seas. Furthermore, the role of mixing in determining the strength of the ocean Carbon Dioxide sink has also been determined.

Photo 2: Bangor University Researchers Fly the Welsh Flag During a Research Expedition

This research has attracted significant funding: £6M over six years, principally from RCUK grants, including the current NERC-supported CaNDyFloSS consortium.

In addition to this, Bangor University staff have authored a number books on ocean physics, which are standard texts for degree courses around the world.

Collaboration with Xiamen University
The State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science at Xiamen University, China collaborates with Bangor University and partners on the PycnMix project: turbulent mixing in the pycnocline layer of seasonally stratified shelf seas. This project exploits state-of-the-art modelling techniques in order to better understand the processes responsible for mixing across the biogeochemical interface (known as the pycnocline layer), drawing nutrients up from the deeper layer of the ocean, and accounting for as much as 50% of the annual Carbon fixation in stratifying shelf seas. Given that they account for 15–30% of the total oceanic primary production, and are a significant sink for atmospheric CO2, continental shelf seas only occupy a tiny 7% of the global ocean area.
It is expected that the results of the project will lead to significant advancement in the modelling of the annual cycle of stratification in shelf seas. This will lead to greater understanding of the role that the pycnocline layer plays in Carbon cycling.

Photo 3: Prof. Tom Rippeth in Arctic Ocean

Prof. Tom Rippeth said, “The collaboration with Xiamen University has resulted in the largest data base of ocean turbulence measurements in the world, and allows us to contrast the processes driving turbulence and mixing in the northwest European shelf seas (i.e. Irish Sea, North Sea etc) with those in the South and East China Sea systems”.

Li Jingnan, an Ocean Physics PhD student supervised by Prof. Tom Rippeth in Bangor University said, “The topic I am studying is how the wind influences the amount of carbon dioxide that continental shelf seas absorb from the atmosphere, especially in summer. Study in Bangor University is a great challenge to me. It forces me to study in a language environment I’m not familiar with. This brings lots of troubles while you are absorbing new knowledge and when you trying to explain your own thoughts to others. But it also gives me a strong push to let me jump out of my comfort zone. The biggest reason I like the School of Ocean Science is because I get lots of support here for my studies. Historically the school is a world-leader in the study of the Physical Oceanography in shelf seas, there are a lot of shelf sea oceanic experts concentrated in Bangor and I can get clear answers or advice for almost every question I ask. Besides, it’s also quite interesting to observe the different methods people use and different thoughts people have in ocean science study in different countries.”

More information about ocean physics research at Bangor University.