The UKFS-CDT Doctoral Programme Applications for Cohort 2 is NOW CLOSED. The deadline for applications was 22th February 2022. Interview decisions are expected by May 2022.
You can find the EDI and reference forms here:
Please ensure you have read the FULL ADVERT, APPLICATION GUIDELINES, ELIGIBILITY and ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS (below), before you start completing your application forms.
From 2021 through to 2027, the UKFS-CDT will train over 60 interdisciplinary doctoral researchers capable of leading the UK towards a resilient, healthy and inclusive food future. Cohort 2 will start in autumn of 2022.
This 4-year programme is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research and interdisciplinary food systems perspectives. Understanding the complex food system challenges requires holistic and novel interdisciplinary thinking. We invite highly motivated individuals from a wide range of academic or career backgrounds including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and physical sciences to apply.
The UKFS-CDT programme provides a unique opportunity for transformative and interdisciplinary food systems research. It is an innovative way of conducting your PhD centred on co-creation and exposure to a varied range of actors operating in the UK food systems.
The UKFS-CDT offers 15+ fully funded studentships for cohort 2 in 2022.
Research scope includes (but is not limited to) the following topics:
• Food environment, consumer behaviour, diets, nutrition and health (Healthy People)
• Livestock health and welfare (Healthy Animals)
• Environmental sustainability, climate change (Healthy Environment)
• Food production, distribution, manufacturing and waste (Healthy Economy)
• Food system governance and resilience (Healthy Society)
The UKFS-CDT welcomes interest from applicants with STEM, natural or social science backgrounds. Recruitment is not restricted to UK applicants, but PhD projects must be UK food systems focussed.
The UKFS-CDT programme is a bespoke interdisciplinary food systems programme with a novel approach to doctoral training. In the first year, each UKFS-CDT student undertakes two 4-month rotation projects at two different institutions in the UKFS-CDT consortium. Rotation projects are clearly defined studies designed to provide our students with the research skills, training and subject knowledge required to prepare a full interdisciplinary PhD proposal at the end of year 1. The PhD project will commence in year 2 (find out more here). There will also be a three month placement with industry, government or civil society in the second or third year of the PhD programme.
For our second cohort in 2022, the UKFS-CDT is offering two scholarship tracks.
All applications are submitted to our standard scholarship track. In the standard track, students select and undertake two 4-month rotation projects from two different disciplines (STEM, natural science or social science) offered by the nine UKFS-CDT consortium institutions in the first year, before registering at one of these institutions at the end of year 1. Rotations will have to take place in two different institutions. The student then pursues their PhD at the elected institution for the remainder of their PhD, in years 2 to 4.
In addition to the standard track, applicants also have the option to apply to our tethered scholarship track offered by the following select institutions:
• Brunel University, London;
• IBERS at Aberystwyth University;
• NRI of the University of Greenwich;
• NIAB EMR (the selected student will be based at NIAB EMR, however, academic registration will be at the unversity of the 2nd supervisor) ;
• Rothamsted Research (the selected student will be based at Rothamsted Research, however, academic registration will be at the unversity of the 2nd supervisor);
• Royal Veterinary College;
• University of Sussex.
By applying to the tethered track, applicants are indicating their preference to undertake their full PhD project from year 2 onwards at the institution selected. One of the 4-month rotation projects in year 1 will be based in the selected institution, complemented with a second rotation from those offered by the other consortium institutions. Applications to the tethered track are submitted via the standard application form.
At least one tethered scholarship will be offered at each of the institutions listed above.
In the selection process, shortlisted candidates will be ranked according to their scores in the section/interview process. From this ranked list, offers will first be made to fill the tethered track scholarships followed by the standard track. Applying for the tethered track is optional. If you would like to choose from all of the rotation project options offered by the CDT you should not select a tethered track option. However, if you do not choose a tethered track option then you will be applying to a smaller pool of studentships.
CDT scholarships cover tuition fees and a tax-free UKRI stipend for 4 years. Recruitment is not restricted to UK applicants, but PhD projects must address UK food systems. International students are eligible for UKRI-funded postgraduate studentships.
The CDT values equality, diversity, inclusion and we welcome applications from anyone regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. We encourage individuals who have had worked in relevant sectors, a change in disciplines or career paths or career breaks, e.g. caring responsibilities, to apply.
We actively promote and encourage a more inclusive environment. We aim to provide high standards of support to all participants in order to ensure that each doctoral student has the skills and opportunities to excel in the programme.
Key Dates & Application instructions
The deadline for the application will be 23:59 GMT on 22th Feb 2022. Please ensure you have read the FULL ADVERT, APPLICATION GUIDELINES, ELIGIBILITY and ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS, before you start completing your application forms.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview in April/May 2022.
The PhD programme will start in September 2022. Training activities based at the University of Greenwich in Medway and roadshow visits to partner institutions will take place until the end of November 2022 when the rotation projects will start.
The application system is now closed.
Before submitting your application please read carefully the application guidelines here, on the website, to follow these instructions of how to apply. Before starting the application forms, please carefully read the eligibility criteria and english language requirements the information below.
Note the UKFS-CDT implements a blind recruitment process. This means that prior shortlisting, we will remove information like name, gender, ethnicity, and nationality and other protected characteristics, so that candidates are judged based on skills.
Applications to the UKFS-CDT programme is a 3-part process. Firstly, you need to complete a UKFS-CDT application forms, secondly, upload it to the Greenwich online application form. The UKFS-CDT application forms will then be assessed, at which point some candidates will be invited for interview whilst others will be declined. Thirdly, the shortlist of applicants will be invited to interview before the final offers are made to successful candidates.
Part 1: Downloadable Word application forms
A: UKFS-CDT Application Form
This UKFS-CDT application form aims to collect information which will be assessed by trained academics, to judge your suitability to be shortlisted for an interview of this UKFS-CDT programme. This judgment will be based solely on the information you provide within the UKFS-CDT form and all the information you provide within the UKFS-CDT form could be used to form this judgment (unless otherwise stated within the application form).
All applications will be assessed with all reference to personal details removed. Please ensure you do not include any of the following information in your application: name, age, religion, gender identity (including pronouns), sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital/civil partnership status, disability/ies, religion, pregnancy and maternity, race/ethnicity, caring responsibility etc.
It is crucial you follow the word limits indicated in the Application Form and do not include text over the limit. The word limit is not enforced by the form and any text over the indicated limit will not be taken into account.
Please provide details on all sections:
- UK Food Systems Focal Research Interest
- Statement of motivation
- Indication of preference for an institution
- Professional qualifications, if applicable
- Research experience
- Workplace experience
- English Language requirement (only for Applicants whose first language is not English and are not a national of a country deemed by the UK Home Office to be “majority English speaking” )
If you have completed your education (part or all of previous education) in a country which is not part of the UK, please add your grades into the ‘UKFS-CDT – Application Form 2022’, including the country/ies of study. These grades will be converted to the UK equivalent internally.
B: Equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form (optional)
This is an optional form and aims to collect information which will not be used to assess your application. This information will be used exclusively to ensure the UKFS-CDT advertising, shortlisting and recruitment of students whilst maintaining equality, diversity and inclusion. UKFS-CDT highly values equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI), and is built into all process during student recruitment. We welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
C: Referee Form
In this form, please provide details of two referees. Ideally one of the two should be an academic referee.
After completing your application, please save all documents in WORD (.doc). Other formats (eg. PDF) will not be considered.
Part 2: University of Greenwich online application form
The University of Greenwich on-line application is the mechanism for candidates to select the course they wish to apply to, as well as upload the UKFS-CDT application form, as well as other documents.
Please complete sections:
- Permanent Address
- Mailing Address
- Statistical Information
- Programme Information
- Month/Year of Entry: '9/2022'
- Programme of Study: Please select 'Associate Postgraduate Research - Food systems PGR Pathway to level 8' from the drop-down menu
- Mode/Point of Entry: Please select 'Full Time/Year 1'
Important note: If another Programme of Study has been selected, your application may not be considered for the UKFS-CDT programme.
Do not complete the following sections below
- Referee details
- Previous / Current Education
Please leave these sections empty AND select 'Continue' to advance on the University of Greenwich online admissions portal. Information for these sections should be entered in the downloadable Part 1: UKFS-CDT application form as one of the required documents of the University of Greenwich online application.
Please ensure you have uploaded the required documents to the 'Qualifications' Section, 'Attach transcripts' link:
Press "Choose file", "Upload", and "Refresh list of files" to see the files that you have attached to your applications.
- Part 1a: UKFS-CDT application form, downloaded and completed - saved in word
- Part1b: EDI form - saved in word
- Part 1c: Referee Form - saved in word
- Academic transcript(s)
- Curriculum vitae
Note: Applicants to the UKFS-CDT do not need to submit a research proposal as part of the application.
Before you sign and submit the University of Greenwich online application, please double-check your online application, upload your completed UKFS-CDT application form, and upload other relevant supporting documents.
*ATTENTION* Once you press "Application is Complete", your full application will be submitted. You will not be able to change your application or upload additional documents. If you have submitted by error, please inform our programme manager. Unfortunately, you will have to login and create a new application on the University of Greenwich online admissions portal.
University of Greenwich Students Applicant Privacy Notice can be downloaded here.
All applications will be reviewed and scored by UKFS-CDT academics from social and natural science disciplines across the consortium. Our shortlisting period will begin on the 22nd of February, 2022. Please note that late applications will not be considered. For an indication of the shortlisting process, please find here the UKFS-CDT shortlisting guidelines the Consortium Partner academics used for cohort 1 (download here).
Candidates will be contacted in early April with an update on their application. If you are invited to interview, two dates will be available in April/May. The exact interview dates will be confirmed.
At least two referees of shortlisted candidates will be contacted by UKFS-CDT to submit information outlined in a reference form (downloadable here).
Part 3: Interviews
Interviews will be with a panel of three UKFS-CDT academics. More details regarding the interview process will be provided to candidates who are selected for interview. Traditionally our interviews are held face-to-face, however, video conference interviews are always available where the cost or time required for travel is prohibitive. Due to the current global situation, it is likely that only video conference interviews will be possible for this recruitment cycle. More information about this will be available in the new year and communicated to candidates after shortlisting. UKFS-CDT studentship offers are made shortly after interviews.
The UKFS CDT programme managers can assist with questions about applying to the doctoral programme. They are not on the recruitment panels. If you have any further questions regarding the recruitment process please contact the programme manager. Here are some useful guidance and resources on how to prepare for a PhD candidate interview.
Please inform us if you require interview assistance, to allow you to attend and participate, by completing and returning the form 'Interview Assistance Form' before Wednesday, 20th April 2022. If you do not require any reasonable adjustments, you do not need to complete and return the form.
The UKFS-CDT received a high number of applications; therefore, we will not be able to provide specific feedback. However, please find here the assessment criteria, upon which your application was assessed.
Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a Bachelor or Masters degree in a relevant subject with a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent.
We would welcome applicants who have demonstrable research skills gained from an academic or a non-academic background.
UKFS-CDT values equality, diversity, inclusion and we welcome applications from anyone regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. We encourage individuals who have had worked in relevant sectors, a change in disciplines or career paths, or career breaks, e.g. caring responsibilities, to apply.
All students will be recruited and selected under a single UKFS-CDT banner and not to individual partner institutions. Recruitment will not be restricted to UK applicants but PhD research projects must be UK food systems focussed.
Please do not hesitate to contact the programme if you have any eligibility concerns.
Applicants whose first language is not English and are not a national of a country deemed by the UK Home Office to be “majority English speaking” must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programme.
The required evidence may be one of the following:
- A recently obtained acceptable English language qualification or test result no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.
- Our preferred English language qualification is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Version.
- IELTS Good level: Overall grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the subtests.
- Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT
- TOEFL Good level: Overall score of 100 with 24 out of 30 in reading and writing and 20 out of 30 in speaking and listening.
- Please note we do not accept My Best Scores
- Our preferred English language qualification is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Version.
- Completed a minimum of twelve months academic education leading to an awarded qualification, in a country that the UK Home Office considers to be “major English speaking”, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment. English language courses and study preparation courses such as pre-Masters are not acceptable.
- Completed a minimum of eighteen months of work experience in a country that is considers to be “major English speaking”, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.
Candidates who are unsure if they meet the entry criteria should contact the programme prior to submitting an application.
• Brunel University London (BUL) in West London is a dynamic institution with over 15,000 students and over 2,000 academic staff operating in a vibrant culture of research excellence. The University plays a significant role in the higher education scene nationally and has numerous national and international links and partnerships with both academia and industry. The food research at BUL involves: i) post-harvest technologies covering food processing, distribution, retail, consumption and waste valorisation; ii) energy and environmental impact reduction including Life Cycle Analysis along food chains; iii) food supply chain management and sustainable food value chains; iv) sensors, instrumentation, automation and robotics; v) environmental management and risks; vi) digital business analytics and food security.
• IBERS at Aberystwyth University, embraces multi-disciplinary approaches to improve environmental sustainability, food security, health and wellbeing. IBERS research capacity includes expertise in agri-food systems linking soil-plant-animal food pathways through to testing of metabolites in novel food products on human health. As a BBRSC institute with the ability to develop novel plant resources to meet global demands for future agri-food systems, IBERS expertise in sustainable food systems is built on a 100-year legacy and world-renowned reputation in plant breeding. Research capabilities span a whole farm systems approach, with livestock scientists working closely with plant breeders and stakeholders to deliver productive and resilient agri-food systems.
• The University of Sussex has over 60 faculty actively engaged in food system research with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity, sustainable development impact and radical and progressive thinking in critical social science. We have research strengths across natural, social and physical sciences and with diverse stakeholders from locally to internationally in disciplines ranging from political economy to bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food and socio-ecological food systems analysis. The University of Sussex is ranked the best in the world for development studies in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and has been named University of the Year for Student Retention by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.
and two leading agricultural research institutes:
• Rothamsted Research, founded in 1843, offers a wide range of high-quality multi- and inter-disciplinary opportunities in the natural sciences aspects of food system research related to both arable and grazing-livestock food production. The Institute hosts 3 BBSRC National Capabilities: The North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP); The Long-term Field Experiments and associated archives; The Rothamsted Insect Survey; alongside a diversity of bioscience expertise including cutting-edge gene editing technology. Rothamsted Research is involved in 9 national and international studentship programmes and therefore has experience of supervising students and collaborating successfully with University partners on successful postgraduate programmes hosting circa 45 PhD students.
As a term, “interdisciplinarity” is often understood in many different ways. Interdisciplinary research can be understood “a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice." (National Academies Report*)
Interdisciplinary study allows for synthesis of ideas and the synthesis of characteristics from many disciplines. At the same time, it addresses students' individual differences and helps to develop important, transferable skills.
- *Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (2004). Facilitating interdisciplinary research. National Academies. Washington: National Academy Press, p. 2.
The urgent need to transform the UK food system presents an opportunity to reframe and address the country’s needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of sustainable food systems with reduced environmental impacts and emissions, that support the population, and are resilient to the impacts of climate change and world food price fluctuations. The pre-pandemic rise in use of foodbanks, followed by prolonged lockdown with reduced access to school meals, vouchers and nutritious food for many families, high COVID-19 mortality rates among BAME groups (in some part related to diet and underlying health conditions) are stark reminders that no-one should be left behind. The Health Survey for England 2017 estimates that 28.7% of adults in England are obese and a further 35.6% are overweight. Post-Brexit, it is anticipated that household food security issues will arise due to median food price increases. As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector (£28.3Bn/year), our food system provides employment and economic growth, affects our environment and shapes our landscape, influences our health and wellbeing, and is of great social and cultural importance. Single use plastics and food waste impacts on the environment are of increasing concern.
The UK food system is complex and interrelated, with inevitable trade-offs between costs and benefits, and competing priorities. In the context of changing demographics, diverse cultural influences, technological development, climate change, and environmental challenges, there is a need to train future leaders and innovators, who can bring new ideas, provide evidence, and safeguard values to advance a vision that develops Healthy People, Healthy Animals, a Healthy Environment, a Healthy Economy and a Healthy Society thus transforming the UK Food System.
The UKFS-CDT has adapted the food system framework presented by the High-Level Panel of Experts (Figure 1), which recognises contributions of food supply chains, food environments and consumer behaviour to nutrition and health outcomes as well as social, political, economic, and environmental drivers and impacts.
To ensure that our food systems are sustainable and support healthy people, healthy animals, a healthy environment, a healthy economy and a healthy society, students will develop challenge-led projects across five strongly interrelated theme areas informed by the framework with topics such as, but not limited to:
- Understanding and influencing consumer behaviour change for improved diets.
- Healthy food environments and access to healthy dietary choices.
- Basic science of nutrition and diet-related health outcomes.
- Food safety and sanitation
- Livestock in sustainable food systems.
- Livestock welfare, animal ethics.
- Livestock and environmental impacts.
- Animal-sourced foods and nutrition security.
- Environmental sustainability of food systems from production to consumption (e.g., efficient production and processing, plastic packaging, planetary dietary patterns).
- Impact of climate change and variability on food systems.
- Biodiversity, ecosystem services and food systems.
- Urban farming (e.g., vertical farming, community gardens, rooftop gardens, sack gardens).
- Low-carbon food systems (e.g., reduced emissions and sustainable and circular economy of production and consumption)
- Food production, distribution, manufacturing and waste
- Efficient and equitable resource use in the food system (e.g., sustainable agricultural intensification, labour in food systems, conservation of natural resources).
- Transformative food innovations via novel product and process technologies (e.g., innovations in design-led manufacturing, automation, packaging, storage, distribution and marketing).
- Reducing and upcycling food loss and waste.
- Food system governanceand policies (e.g., global food trade, Brexit, UK food imports).
- Food system resilience (e.g., zoonotic epidemics, antimicrobial use and resistance, uncertainties and consequence of changes).
- Food culture and diets (e.g., intergenerational differences, food heritage, multicultural exchanges, traditional knowledge transfers, migration and transfer of food practices).
- Food poverty, social & health inequities, and the role of food charities in UK’s food system.
- Social protection/Responsible business practices / Equitable labour reform (e.g., workers’ rights & wellbeing, informal & unpaid/unrecognised labour, employment impacts of robotics and automation).
- Political ecology and geography of food (e.g., interrelationships between nature, people, and environment; social and ecological impacts of new and emerging technologies)
- Social movements (e.g., food sovereignty, Indigenous hunting and fishing rights).
- History of food systems (e.g., past lessons to prepare for the common food future).
The CDT’s approach is interdisciplinary, based on partnership with a broad range of stakeholders across the UK food system, and building on the latest research findings and approaches. In order to co-create and disseminate a body of knowledge capable of achieving significant policy and impact in practice the UKFS-CDT will focus on doctoral projects at and across national and regional levels and in key rural and urban geographies including: London, Kent and Medway, and Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales. London links with partners’ strong local connections (e.g., London Food Board/Greater London Authority) and is the UK’s only megacity, an exemplar of challenges of urban food systems, with multiple and complex issues for diverse populations. Kent and Medway link with a new £17.9M UKRI Strength in Places ‘Growing Kent and Medway’ investment. It is a major area of fruit and vegetable production with transport and logistics operations serving communities with high levels of social deprivation and diet-related health issues; Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales as a geography, under a devolved administration, reflects the great importance of the UK grasslands in agri-food systems, occupying approx. 70% of total agricultural land area in the UK and dominating landscapes of mid-Wales. With the agricultural supply chains at the heart of the rural economy, this location provides an ideal context to study the interrelated complexities of how food systems contribute to the wider sustainability of rural communities and integration between rural and urban linkages.
UKFS-CDT offers 15+ UKRI doctoral studentships each year.
The UKRI has updated its eligibility criteria to confirm that international applicants will be eligible for all UKRI-funded postgraduate studentships from the start of the 2021/22 academic year.
All UKRI-funded PhD students will be eligible for the full award - both the stipend to support living costs, and fees at research organisations at UK rate, please see UKRI rates here. However, UKRI funding do not cover international fees set by universities. More information about the changes to EU and International Eligibility for UKRI funded studentships from Academic Year 2021/22 onwards can be found here.
Accepted applicants will receive a full bursary at the UKRI agreed rate, which will cover the cost of the agreed home registration fee. Consortium partners have agreed to waive the difference between national and international fees, which means that all formal offers will include payment of University Registration fees. UKRI only allows the CDT to offer a maximum 30% of places to International Students. We ask successful applicants to confirm their nationality status prior to making offers using the form here. The ability of international applicants to be awarded UKRI studentships starts for the first time in September 2021.
In addition to our UKRI studentships, the UKFS-CDT consortium partners contribute a number of institutionally funded studentship places on the programme each year. These awards pay UK domestic tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the same UKRI rate but they do restrict students to rotations and PhD projects that are based at the institution that is providing the funding.
UKFS-CDT highly values equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI). We welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. We also encourage individuals who have had a change in disciplines or career paths, or have taken a career break for various reasons such as caring responsibilities or ill-health, to apply.
Please contact us if you require an alternative format of application form, or you have any queries or concern regarding the application process. Additionally, we are pleased to discuss individual circumstances to support engagement with this programme. To discuss this further please contact the programme here.
This four-year programme is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in inter-disciplinary food systems research. Understanding complex food system challenges requires holistic and novel interdisciplinary thinking.
Each student will initially register as a student with the University of Greenwich. After the first 12 months, when the PhD research starts, student registration will be transferred to the University of the first supervisor (or the second supervisor, if the first supervisor works at NIAB-EMR or Rothamsted Research).
All UKFS-CDT students start at the beginning of the academic year with 3-weeks of induction events.
These weeks contain a variety of information sharing and cohort building activities to introduce students to the programme, help them make informed decisions for the year and begin the bonding process for the cohort.
Information sessions will showcase a catalogue of core project ideas known as ‘project kernels’, presented by prospective supervisors from academic institutions, covering the widest interpretation of the food systems remit. Other information sessions include introduction to taught elements, rotations opportunities at academic institutions in the first year, and Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) during Year 2 and 3. The induction events, training, and rotations at academic institutions will provide students with a rich exposure to a variety of food systems research challenges, questions, and methods that will help inform the preparation of their PhD research proposal.
Additional activities during Induction focus on well-being and cohort building. One of our first workshops focuses on the common stressors that PhD students might experience and some excellent techniques to manage and mitigate them. Induction events will include team-building and networking opportunities for students to meet and mingle with Food Systems Academy members. Food Systems Academy currently has over 50 partners from business, government departments and civil society, so there are ample opportunities to build students' network.
The UK Food Systems Academy and Project Co-Design
The UK Food Systems Academy is an integral part of the CDT. All students and potential supervisors will become members of the Academy. The Academy also has members from business, government and civil society. These members have agreed to support the CDT in a number of ways including offering placements, partnering in research and contributing to training.
All students will be engaged in the co-design of their own research projects in collaboration with the UK Food Systems Academy which is the gateway for students to supervisors and core project ideas (project kernels). Early in Year 1, students will select from a catalogue of project kernels that will form the basis of their rotations with potential supervisors. Following the rotations, thesis proposals will be finalised in a capstone two-day Project and Thesis Proposal Intensive Workshop with partners from the Food System Academy.
In the first year, each UKFS-CDT student undertakes two 4-month rotation projects at two different academic institutions in the UKFS-CDT consortium.
All rotation projects represent a clearly defined and significant fraction of the work proposed for an entire PhD project. As a result, a rotation project is an authentic sample of the work expected for the PhD. Consequently, our students can reassure themselves of the scientific merit of the project, the quality of the research environment, available resources, the strengths of the supervisory team and their own capacity to pursue the investigation.
Most CDT students select a PhD project associated with one of their two rotation projects, although this is not a requirement, they then join their chosen research group after the end of their 2nd rotation or in Year 2.
Teaching and Learning
Students will complete courses in research ethics and integrity in addition to (i) Exploration of Food Systems, (ii) Investigation of Systems Thinking (iii) Application of Food Systems Methods and (iv) Intervention for Food Systems Change. Students will engage in participatory learning that involves working with their cohort peers and stakeholders across multiple disciplines, with training and practice on effective communication and complex systems thinking needed to face the vast range of challenges faces by the UK Food System.
PhD Research (Year 2 to 4)
In years 2 and 3 of the programme students are dedicated to their research. In year 2, students will be enrolled at the institution of their primary supervisor. They will be expected to conduct their research based at the chosen institution.
All students will have an annual review with a member of the management committee to evaluate progress and manage any issues that arise. There is also a suite of employability events and wellbeing training sessions. It is common that students will undertake their Professional Internships for PhD Students in years 2 or 3.
In year 4 of the programme, all students are enrolled in a dedicated programme and pastoral care, designed to prepare and support students in their PhD research write-up and thesis submission.
Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS)
UKRI mandates that all students funded in this programme take part in the Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) scheme. This involves a three-month work experience placement that can be undertaken with any organisation in the public or privates’ sectors in the UK according to student interest and a suitable agreement with the host. The only stipulation is that the work must be in an area demonstrably unrelated to the student's research project. The timing of the internships has a degree of flexibility, taking place during the second or third year of the PhD, (months 18 to 36).
The aims of the Professional Interships are to provide a funded opportunity for students to: develop new skill sets, gain work experience in the non-academic research sector; assess the non-research career environments in the public or private sectors, evaluate a wider range of career options and understand how the skills gained during the PhD can be utilised in other sectors. Careers and programme administrative staff support all UKFS-CDT programme students in arranging their PIPS placement.
Cohort Building and Networking
Cohort building is integrated into interactive activities that combine training, outreach, and networking. By allowing students to network within and between cohorts, UKFS-CDT mobilises our large student body as an additional layer of peer support for both scientific and wellbeing issues.
Along with the final preparation and submission of students’ thesis, the students’ journey will culminate in a celebratory Graduates’ Showcase and Submitters’ Dinner which will feature publication of an accessible, industry-facing output report and presentation that bring together key findings and future implications for the sector. Students will transition into the UKFS-CDT alumni network, continuing interactions with members of the Food Systems Academy.