Project code



School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Open all year round

The Moon's ancient crust preserves a unique record of early planetary evolution. But despite more than 40 years of isotopic studies of lunar materials, there are still major unanswered questions around the evolution of the Earth-Moon system.

For example: what was the timing of lunar magma ocean crystallisation, and did the Moon experience a late global magmatic reworking and late heavy bombardment?

On this self-funded PhD programme, supervised by Dr James Darling and Professor Craig Storey, you'll study rocks from ancient lunar highlands, such as anorthosites, Mg-suite plutonic rocks, and regolith breccias.

The work involves:

  • Detailed petrological analysis of selected Lunar samples
  • Training in advanced electron microscopy techniques (e.g. EBSD), and in-situ geochemical analyses by LA-ICP-MS and potentially SIMS/TIMS

The aim of the project is to place new constraints on the timing and nature of events controlling the geological evolution and habitability of terrestrial planets, and the early evolution of the Solar System.

To understand records from lunar rocks, it's important to understand the effects of extreme compression and heating that occurs during impact events. Such shock metamorphism has affected lunar samples, and the severity of mineral age and isotopic resetting remains poorly understood, despite major advances in geochemical techniques.

Our group has been addressing this by combining advances in nanoscale structural, mineralogical, chemical and isotopic analysis of dateable accessory minerals. This opens up new possibilities to apply geochronological and petrological tracers to lunar rocks.

Fees and Funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry Requirements

  • A good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending on the course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject
  • Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0
  • All applicants are subject to interview

  • This PhD project will suit an analytically minded student with an interest in petrology, geochemistry and planetary geology

How to Apply

To make an enquiry about this project, get in touch with the PhD Supervisors for this programme, Dr James Darling at (023 9284 3327), or Prof Craig Storey at (023 9284 2245) quoting the project code SEES44210183 and title.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.