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Welcome to SPRI

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, and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community.

Research at SPRI

We 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, working for the PhD degree or the MPhil in Polar Studies.

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The Polar Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a unique collection illustrating polar exploration, history and science. Find out how past discoveries in the Arctic and Antarctic help today's scientists to investigate our changing environment.

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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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The Library offers a collection 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.

Library catalogue

Applications open for new climate project

14th November, 2019


Applications for the Cambridge Climate Life and Earth (C-CLEAR) NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, are now being accepted.

The C-CLEAR NERC DTP is among the first programmes in the world to study the connected issues of global change, past, present and future from a cross-disciplinary vantage point. Students will gain deep insights into the processes and outcomes of global change in the past and be equipped with the tools to understand and question the processes of human and planetary change and transformation taking place now and into the future.

Students will engage in research projects of global significance across NERC science, and receive high-quality training in research, professional, technical and transferable skills through a focused core programme.

The application deadline is noon Tuesday 7th January 2020. Find out more and apply.

ERC Arctic Cultures Workshop, 9-10 January 2020

6th November, 2019


The ERC Arctic Cultures grant led by Richard Powell is holding its first Project Workshop – 'Knowledge Formations and Colonial Encounters in the Arctic', 9-10 January 2020 at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

The workshop is part of a series of research events bringing team members, leading international experts and interested scholars into dialogue around the themes of the project. The focus for this workshop specifically is to examine the co-production of Arctic knowledge formations through encounters between indigenous inhabitants and non-indigenous actors. Presentations will draw upon empirical research and theorisation to investigate spatial formations of the Arctic and the role of Northern actors and institutions.

All are welcome and attendance is free, but prior registration is required please. The full programme, abstracts and registration details are available on the project website.

SPRI Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, awarded RSGS WS Bruce Medal

24th October, 2019


Congratulations to our Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, who has been awarded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society 2019 WS Bruce Medal, for his contribution to glaciology & polar science.

We were pleased to welcome RSGS Chief Executive Mike Robinson, as he visited the Scott Polar Research Institute to present Professor Dowdeswell with the award.

Award success for SPRI Education & Outreach

22nd October, 2019


Congratulations to SPRI Education and Outreach Assistant, Naomi Chapman, who has recently received a University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor's Research Impact and Engagement Award.

The Vice-Chancellor's Impact and Public Engagement with Research Awards schemes were established in 2016 to recognise and celebrate excellence in research impact and public engagement with research.

Naomi received her award for her role in developing innovative tactile maps of the Arctic and Antarctic, which have allowed many young and partially sighted people to enjoy a touch tour of polar research.

AHRC DTP PhD studentship - Gender and histories of Arctic field science, 1900-1950

25th September, 2019


Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH).

The fully-funded studentship will be based in the Department of Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute. The successful applicant will work on a collaborative project co-led by Dr Richard Powell, Department of Geography (and Scott Polar Research Institute) and co-supervisor, Professor Paul Smith, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

This project provides the opportunity to explore the histories of a range of women in the twentieth-century Arctic, including female scientists, travellers and collectors and their encounters with indigenous people. The project draw upon extensive archival records about the geologist Phyllis Wager and the writer Isobel Wylie Hutchison. The student will also be encouraged to develop a comparative focus to include other key actors involved in gendering the Arctic field sciences.

Further details of the project and its aims can be found on the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP website.

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  • 19th November 2019:
    From Arctic statehood to self: State personnel’s articulations of Arctic identity in Norway, Iceland, and Canada. Details…
    Histories, Cultures, Environments and Politics research seminars at SPRI
  • 21st November 2019:
    The Selected Body: Investigating Ideas about Nerves and Constitutions in the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop
  • 5th December 2019:
    Arctic Visible: Picturing Indigenous Communities in the Nineteenth-Century Western Arctic. Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop
  • More seminars…