Earth Sciences

The Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford is one of the top departments in the world, and focuses on the scientific understanding of this and other planets. The Department embraces an enormous range of topics, including the evolution of the solar system, the earth, and life , the nature of planetary interiors, the past and future of the climate system, the chemistry of the oceans, natural hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes, and environmental change. The emphasis of our teaching and research is on understanding the fundamental principles of geological processes.

The new £38m Earth Sciences Building was officially opened in May 2011 by Lord Rees of Ludlow. As one of the priorities of the Oxford Thinking Campaign, the new building was made possible thanks to the generous support of Gareth Roberts (St Edmund Hall, Geology, 1971) and The Wolfson Foundation.

Our plans for the future of the Department envisage significant expansion in teaching and research on the origins, evolution, and future of our planet. The Department has identified four core development priorities:



Field Teaching Fund

Oxford’s commitment to fieldwork...

Fieldwork is central to the study of Earth Sciences, and we maintain a serious commitment to teaching undergraduates in the field. Our undergraduates spend at least two weeks a year in the field following courses that supplement their classroom studies back in Oxford.

At Oxford we passionately believe that it is only through field teaching that students develop the knowledge and understanding that are needed to solve the enormous range of problems that the natural world present.

...And how you can help

The annual cost of the undergraduate field teaching programme has risen to over £200,000. It is our goal to raise, through regular giving and by building up endowment funds, a substantial portion of this sum to secure the future of Earth Sciences field teaching.

We hope that you will consider supporting us in this endeavour. A gift of any size will make a real impact on the undergraduate field experience:

  • £50 pays for a student rail-fare to the Assynt field trip
  • £120 pays for a graduate student to act as demonstrator on the Pembroke pre-1st-Year field trip
  • £250 supports a 2nd-Year student carrying out a mapping project in a challenging area in Europe
  • £250 pays for the hire of a boat and equipment to allow fieldwork in a lagoon setting during the Bermuda field trip
  • £500 travel support allows a student to carry out field research as part of their 4th-Year project
  • £750 allows a 4th-Year student to collect samples as part of a project on volcanic hazards
  • £1,000 pays for the cost of a minibus and professional driver on the Greek field trip

If you wish to support the field teaching fund, you can download a UK giving form (213 kb) [pdf], or give online.

Faculty Development

The University of Oxford is one of the birthplaces of the science of Geology. The University's Chair of Geology traces its lineage back to the pioneering Oxford scholar William Buckland, who, among many other accomplishments, wrote the first description of a dinosaur and significantly contributed to the recognition of Ice Ages.

Buckland's teaching inspired Charles Lyell, who first formalised the principles of the science in his landmark 19th Century works.

Since its establishment in 1860, the University's Department of Earth Sciences has attracted some of the greatest academics in Geology, whose work has enriched and advanced the subject. The Department continues this tradition today with world-class academics committed equally to teaching and research. In order to attract the highest calibre of people from around the world, we seek funds to support three of our key academic positions: the Chair of Geology, the Chair of Geophysics and the Chair of Geochemistry.

Graduate Student Support

The Department of Earth Sciences is dedicated to attracting the most able students regardless of their background, at both undergraduate and graduate level.

We believe that no student should be deterred from applying to the Department for financial reasons, and we seek particular support for graduate students. We aim to expand our scholarship and bursary programmes to assist postgraduate students with the costs associated with studying at Oxford.

If you wish to support graduate students, you can download a UK giving form (213 kb) [pdf], or give online.

General Fund

The Earth Sciences General Fund is designed to provide a continuing source of support from both existing and new donors, and allows us to respond quickly and appropriately to the Department's most urgent needs, including student hardship and the field teaching programme. Gifts will be directed towards the Department of Earth Sciences’ area of greatest needs.

To support the Earth Sciences general fund, you can download a UK giving form (213 kb) [pdf], or give online.