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MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change

Course Description

About the course

This new and exciting programme is aimed at training graduates from a range of scientific disciplines who wish to pursue a research career in cold-regions science, notably within the disciplines of glaciology, glacial geomorphology, polar climatology / oceanography, environmental science, polar biogeochemical processes, or their intersections.

The programme’s underlying theme is contemporary, as its key interest is to explore the expressions, mechanisms and impacts of rapid ongoing changes in our planet’s cold regions.

Your career

You’ll develop the skills to work in private or public sector research, or join the civil service. Recent graduates have started careers in consulting or with organisations like CAFOD, the Environment Agency and the British Library. Many of our graduates stay on to do research. We have a high success rate in securing funding for those who wish to study for a PhD with us after finishing a masters.

Study with the best

This is a vibrant postgraduate community, with strong international links. Our research partners are global, from UK universities to institutions in southern Africa, Denmark, Iceland, Australia and the USA. Our teaching is invigorated by work from several interdisciplinary research groups, like the Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research, the Urban and Regional Policy Research Institute and the Sheffield Institute for International Development.

How we teach

Our staff are active researchers at the cutting-edge of their fields. That research informs our masters courses. As well as the usual lectures and seminars, there are practicals, lab classes, field trips and research projects.

Facilities and equipment

A new £1m Sediment-Solute Systems lab enables geochemical analysis of aqueous and solid phases, especially in the context of biogeochemistry. We have equipment for chromatography, UV spectrometry and flow injection/auto analysis.

Our sample preparation facilities enable digestion, pre-concentration by evaporation under vacuum, and tangential flow filtration. There are alpha and gamma counters, a laser particle sizer and a luminescence dating lab. Field equipment includes automatic water samplers, weather stations, data loggers and environmental process characterisation sensors.

We have high-quality petrological microscopes for examining geological samples. We have labs for spectrometry and for palaeontological preparation, and you’ll also have access to specialist facilities in other departments at the University.

Laptops, camcorders, tape recorders and transcribers are available for your fieldwork. Our postgraduate computer labs have networked workstations for GIS research and climate modelling, ARC/INFO, ERDAS software and specialist software for remote sensing. GIS facilities are also provided by the £5m Informatics Collaboratory for the Social Sciences.

Our new postgraduate media GIS suite has facilities for Skype, video conferencing, web design, video editing and creative media.


Most of our courses involve fieldwork. The MPH, MSc and MA International Development take students on a 10-day field trip where they put their research skills into practice. Recent classes visited the West Pokot region of Kenya, urban and rural areas of Nepal, the suburbs of Cairo and India.

Core modules

Research Design in Analysis of Environmental Systems; Current Issues in Polar and Alpine Science; Arctic/Alpine Field Course; Polar and Alpine Change Research Project.

Teaching and assessment

Modules are delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and independent study.

The Research Project is assessed by oral presentation of mid-project findings, submission of a project report in the summer and by a poster presentation of project findings.

Visit the MSc(Res) Polar and Alpine Change page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!

Entry Requirements

For all our courses, you'll need a good 2:1 or first class honours degree in relevant subject areas such as physical geography, environmental/earth/ocean sciences, geology, physics, or natural science.Please provide the following with your application:You'll need to show evidence of engagement with and/or aptitude in geoscientific research in your personal statement. You'll also need to demonstrate this by uploading a research document (such as an undergraduate dissertation report) with your application.English language requirementsOverall IELTS grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

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Recipient: University of Sheffield
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