The Rowan Johnstone PhD Studentship: Policies to Build Resilience in UK agriculture

About the award

Agriculture is likely to be deeply affected by the UK’s exit from the European Union. Farm businesses are heavily dependent on payments from the Common Agricultural Policy. In 2014/15 in England and Wales, 15% of Farm Business Income was derived from Agri-Environment scheme (Pillar 2) payments and 57% from the Single Farm Payment (Pillar 1). In some farm types the dependence on CAP payments was even higher with, for example, 39% and 94% of Farm Business Income for Less Favoured Area Grazing Livestock farms derived from Agri-Environment schemes and the Single Farm Payment respectively (Winter and Lobley 2016). This is a total greater than 100%, thereby indicating loss-making within many core agricultural enterprises including both cereals and beef and sheep production. Whilst current levels of support payments are likely to remain unchanged until 2020, thereafter many commentators believe there will be a substantial reduction, and possible elimination, of Pillar 1 payments. Some of this money may be transferred to whatever replaces Pillar 2 and will be linked to payments for public goods.

In this context of potentially rapid change, there is a need to research ways by which families and businesses might be encouraged and helped to adapt.

The PhD will be supervised by Professors Lobley and Winter (University of Exeter).  Together, they have many years’ experience in researching issues of this nature and their recent report for the Prince’s Countryside Trust demonstrates their leadership in this field and also provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for ensuring the future of the family farm which will inform the proposed PhD research. (Reference - Winter, M. and Lobley, M. (2016) Is there a Future for the Small Family Farm in the UK? Report to The Prince’s Countryside Fund, London: Prince’s Countryside Fund. ISBN 978-902746-36-7)

The proposed PhD will:

• Explore alternative paths for farm business survival and resilience with less dependence on the subsidy regime. This might include new markets, enhanced business management, and business diversification.
• Explore how policy might impede or encourage such adaptation with focus on policy ‘knowns’ that are largely independent of the Brexit process, such as land tenure, tax regimes, policies for agricultural education and advice, energy policy, and land use planning.

The student will be supervised by Professors Matt Lobley and Michael Winter (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. Telephone: 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