The Earth sciences are the focus of scientific understanding about this and other planets, embracing a wide range of fundamental topics.
Topics studied in Earth sciences include the evolution of life, how climate has changed and will change in future, the nature of planetary surfaces and interiors, and the processes underlying natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.
The emphasis of both teaching and research in the department is on understanding the fundamental principles of geological processes. Theory, measurements, experiments, and observation of natural processes are all essential elements in the Earth sciences, and students with a strong background in all aspects of the physical sciences are encouraged to join the department.
Oxford is one of the leading centres of geological research in the UK, topping the ranking for research quality in the 2014 Research Excellent Framework with a score of 3.4. The department offers the latest analytical equipment and powerful computing facilities, supporting research in all aspects of the Earth sciences.
The department’s research is grouped into four areas of focus: environment, oceans and climate; tectonics, volcanoes and hazards; planets and planetary interiors; and evolution and the fossil record. It is not unusual for research topics to be multidisciplinary, and for students to have more than one supervisor covering different aspects of the project.