PhD Studentship: Urban Food Production

About the award

‘Growing your own’ food (on waste ground, allotments or private gardens) is a longstanding practice increasingly advocated as a direct way in which urban citizens can counteract problems of sustainability in contemporary food systems. It is also claimed that participating in urban food production can have physical and psychological health benefits, by improving physical fitness and increasing exposure to green spaces.  This research will investigate the motivations for and barriers to continuing with urban food production practices in the short and long term. By engaging directly with participants using a range of methodologies, this research will examine the role of experiential knowledge gained during practices of urban growing, as well as whether and how they benefit from these activities. It will also explore the role of experiential knowledge in changing grower’s motivations, and if barriers change as they become more experienced. Key research questions may include:

• What are the motivations for undertaking urban food production? What barriers are encountered? Do urban growers experience significant benefits in the short and long term?
• Does undertaking food production practices change urban dwellers’ understandings of food purchasing, consumption, larger scale agricultural practices? 
• How do these factors change as growers become more experienced and across multiple demographics?
• What are the similarities and differences between urban food producers growing fruit and vegetables and those also raising animals for food?
• What is the potential for urban produced food to contribute to re-localised food systems?

The student will be supervised by Professor Matt Lobley and Dr. Angela Cassidy (University of Exeter)



Application deadline:18th April 2017
Number of awards:1
Value:3 years tuition fees UK/EU and an annual maintenance allowance at research council rates (£14,553 in 2017/18)
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Beth Owen / Issac Maswade 01392

How to apply

Entry Criteria

• This award is available to those students with Home / EU residency status

• MSc, MA or Mres or equivalent post-graduate qualification and knowledge of appropriate social science research methods

• This project entails national travel with extended periods of fieldwork

• This project entails extensive travel to remote, rural farm locations so a driving licence is essential

How to Apply

In order to apply you will need to complete an online web form where you must submit some personal details and upload the following documents by 11.59pm on the 18 April 2017.

• A detailed CV

• Covering letter - outlining your academic interests, any prior research experience and reasons for wishing to do PhD in the context of the research interests of the Centre.

• A statement outlining (maximum 1500-2000 words, excluding bibliography) what you see as the particular opportunities and challenges of this PhD research project. Please note that you are expected to illustrate your knowledge and understanding of the issues and/or the research process and explain why you are suitable, given your skills and disciplinary background, to achieve this research project within three years. Please upload in the research proposal section in one document together with your research paper (it is not possible to upload separate documents).

• Transcript of your highest qualification to date or an interim transcript if you are still studying

IELTS/TOEFL certificate - where applicable

• 2 references to be sent direct to

Please note that if you are successful in being awarded funding you will then be asked to apply for a study place in addition to formalise the funding offer.

Selection Process: Short-listed applicants will be invited for an interview in person (in Exeter at the University’s Streatham Campus) or by Skype. The interviews will be scheduled on 25th April 2017.

For informal enquiries and further information on the project please contact

Emma Tranter
01392 722438