List of proposed PhD Projects

Please note: not all projects currently have funding and as such students may need to secure funding support. Where funding is available it will be highlighted. We are always interested to hear from students with their own funding and project ideas who wish to study at the University.

For more information, click on the contact name to send an email.

NERC Oil & Gas CDT

The University of Aberdeen is a core partner in the UK Oil and Gas Collaborative Doctoral Training Centre, funded in partnership with the Natural Environmental Research Council.

Research students enrolled in this programme study for a period of FOUR years, fully funded with a research council stipend. They will form part of a nationwide cohort of research students who, while carrying out their individual PhD projects, will also come together to participate in an industry-level training programme. The programme introduces key technical aspects that will underpin a future career in the Oil and Gas sector as well as broader aspects relating to environmental management and monitoring, legal and economic aspects of the business and its societal importance.

More information on the Collaborative Doctoral Training Centre can be found here, along with a full list of the Centre's proposed PhD studentships.

In Aberdeen there are THREE PhD awards for start in October 2017. These are full studentships (fees and stipend) and are generally open to UK students or EU students who have spent the previous three years in the UK undertaking education. See the Oil and Gas CDT website for further details.

The studentships will be allocated to applicants for the PhD topics below. Please contact the lead supervisors for further details of these projects. For general questions about the CDT or stuyding in Aberdeen please contact Prof. Rob Butler.

  • Formal applications should be made through the University’s web pages (see below).
  • The closing date for applications is 12 noon, Tuesday 31st January 2017.
  • Interviews are provisionally scheduled for Wednesday, 1st March 2017.

 Projects for 2017 start:


Applications Procedure for Aberdeen NERC CDT PhDs

  • From the university’s postgraduate applications website go to Apply Online Now
  • Sign-in and register
  • This will trigger an automatic applicant registration number that you will need to create an application
  • Application will be emailed to you
  • Go back and complete the online application process

IMPORTANT! In section 2 - Programme:

The Oil and Gas projects are all being processed through the Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology. Therefore in the Programme selection -  search Geology and select:

  • Type of Study:  Postgraduate research
  • Start October 2017
  • Full time
  • Funding: research Council NERC
  • Funding guaranteed: NO
  • Add name of lead supervisor
  • IN THE LOWER BOX:  PUT Oil and Gas CDT and the name of the project you’re interested in.
  • At the end of the form, don’t forget to add a 500 word personal statement (Section 12).
  • Content for Section 13 can be provided as you are called for interview.

To be eligible for a PhD award you will need to have at least an Upper Second Class Degree and/or a MSc in appropriate discipline(s). We are able to make offers conditional of attaining these qualifications in the run up to the start date for the PhD.

And add a CV in the supporting documents – as a TRANSCRIPT.
Please make sure your referees are primed to respond to requests for references the week after the closing date and we’ll move very quickly to establish a short-list for interview.

The Basin Fill Group

For more information on the Basin Fill Group please visit their web pages


Predicting alluvial architecture in fluvio-deltaic successions

Supervisors: Professor Adrian Hartley & Professor John Howell

Recent work has shown that sandstone body size, shape, internal heterogeneity and connectivity potentially follow simple predictive models that have been derived from analysis of remotely sensed data. These models need testing against rock record examples which will require extensive fieldwork in the SW USA and Spain.

A number of PhD’s may be available depending on company sponsorship.

Tectonics and Geophysics Group

For more information on the Tectonics and Geophysics Group please visit their web pages


 Predicting carbonate fracture patterns: the impact of mechanical stratigraphy and structural evolution.

Supervisor: Professor Rob Butler and Dr Clare Bond 

This project will combine field outcrop analysis in the sub-alpine chain of France with, the creation of geological models and forward modelling to predict strain and fractures in carbonate multilayers.


Deformation adjacent to mobile evaporite bodies – modelling approaches and outcrop examples from the Alps

Supervisor: Dr Clare Bond and Professor Rob Butler

The student will map salt host-rock relationships and internal fabrics in the southern French Alps to explore the impact of salt intrusion on host rock deformation.
This project will require detailed mapping skills in high Alpine terrain.