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Welcome to SPRI

The Scott Polar Research Institute, established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, is a centre of excellence in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. Research covers both the natural and social sciences and is often interdisciplinary. The Institute also houses the World's premier Polar Library, extensive archival, photographic and object collections of international importance on the history of polar exploration, and a Polar Museum with displays of both the history and contemporary significance of the Arctic and Antarctic and their surrounding seas. The Institute is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.

SPRI's mission is to enhance the understanding of the polar regions through scholarly research and publication, educating new generations of polar researchers, caring for and making accessible its collections (including its library, archival, photographic and object collections), and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community for public benefit.

Research at SPRI

SPRI's staff and students investigate a range of issues in the environmental sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica:

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Graduate study

SPRI has a friendly community of postgraduate students. Many are working for the PhD degree, awarded on the basis of individual research and requiring three years of full-time study. Others are working for the MPhil in Polar Studies.

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The Polar Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a unique collection of artefacts, journals, paintings, photographs, clothing equipment, maps and other materials illustrating polar exploration, history and science. Come and find out how past discoveries in the Arctic and Antarctic help today's scientists to investigate our changing environment.

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The Library offers a collection developed since the 1920s with over 700 current journals and over 250,000 printed works covering all subjects relating to the Arctic, the Antarctic, and to ice and snow wherever found.

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Staff and students

SPRI's staff publish regularly in a range of leading journals, and attract research funding from a wide variety of sources.

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Archive and Picture Library achieve Accredited status

20th July, 2017


We are delighted to announce that the Institute's Archive and Picture Library have been recognised under the national accreditation scheme.

Antarctic ice-shelf break-up

14th July, 2017


A paper published this week in the Annals of Glaciology, by an international team including Alison Banwell and Ian Willis, identifies the causes of crack formation and propagation on the McMurdo Ice shelf, Antarctica, where they have recently been undertaking fieldwork. Eventually this rift will result in the calving of an iceberg from the ice shelf, through a similar process to that which enabled the large iceberg to break-off the Larsen C Ice Shelf, a few days ago. As the climate warms it is possible that such ice shelf calving events will become larger and more frequent.

America's eroding edges: stories from the field

12th June, 2017


PhD student Victoria Herrmann is documenting her fieldwork exploring the effects of climate change on communities across America in a series of blog posts and articles. Victoria is currently travelling across the US and its territories, interviewing communities directly affected by shoreline erosion and climate change, and recording the impact on their ways of life.

Prince Albert II of Monaco becomes Patron of SPRI

7th June, 2017


We are pleased to announce that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has agreed to become Patron of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Prince Albert, who has visited both poles and whose great- great-grandfather, Albert I, was a prominent Arctic explorer, has strong ongoing interests in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Prince Albert said of his new role, "I am delighted to become Patron of the Scott Polar Research Institute and to support their important research and heritage activities relating to the Arctic and Antarctic, especially in the context of the continuing environmental changes affecting these sensitive parts of the global climate system".

Prince Albert has visited the SPRI on several previous occasions and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has also supported the research work of the Institute.

SPRI Library catalogue search now online

12th May, 2017


We are proud to announce that the Library catalogue of the Scott Polar Research Institute is now available to be searched online. This has been the culmination of many years of data improvements and technical conversion work. The collection will also be added to the main University Library catalogue in 2018.

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