Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Closing date

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

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).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

PhD by Publication

External candidates £4,407 p/a

Members of staff £1,680 p/a*

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

PhD and MPhil

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

PhD by Publication

External Candidates £4,407 p/a*

Members of Staff £1,720 p/a*

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry Requirements

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.

You can also visit our How to Apply pages to get a better understanding of how the PhD application process works.

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now