University of Exeter funding: PhD Studentship: Sociology and Poli

John Oldacre Foundation PhD Studentships in the Sociology and Politics of Agriculture and Food Systems Ref: 3763

About the award


Primary Supervisor - Professor Matt Lobley

Secondary Supervisor - Professor Michael Winter

Applications are invited for up to two PhD studentships (available for study on either a full time or part time basis) in the Centre for Rural Policy Research within the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter. We are looking for PhD proposals in any social science issue related to the changing role of agriculture and the countryside and relevant to the core research interests of the supervisors (see for details).  We would particularly welcome proposals related to the following theme: 

The debate on productivity in UK agriculture  

Poor productivity in UK farming has led to a major investment in agri-tech research and innovation in recent years. However this is not only a technological issue. There may be good business reasons why farmers have not adopted certain technologies or there may be barriers to change associated with social and policy factors.  In the context of Brexit some of these policies are likely to change but the issues are deep rooted and there are some who argue that technology and production at scale are less important than a return to more locally responsive and ecologically sensitive styles of farming.   

Possible research questions:

a. What are the causes of low productivity in UK agriculture?

b. To what extent are the agri-technological solutions on offer appropriate to UK agriculture?

c. Why do agri-technologists and agro-ecologists disagree?

d. Might GMOs (re-)emerge as a potential solution to some of farming’s challenges?

e. What do consumers/citizens make of the new technologies on offer?

For more information and informal enquiries, please contact, Professor Michael Winter

Entry requirements

You should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or International equivalent, in social science (eg. Anthropology, Geography, Politics, Sociology) and will ideally already hold or currently be working towards a Masters degree at Merit level, or international equivalent, in a subject area giving appropriate knowledge of social science research methods.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

Please note that these PhD projects may entail extensive travel to remote, rural farm locations and national travel with extended periods of fieldwork.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter, research proposal and details of two academic referees, and if relevant, proof of your English language proficiency, by 3rd February 2020.

Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this studentship.

To apply you will also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

You must ensure that your referees email their references to by 3rd February 2020. Please note that we will not be contacting referees to request references, you must arrange for them to be submitted to us by the deadline. References should be submitted by your referees to us directly in the form of a letter. Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee. 

Please quote reference 3763 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.


Application deadline:3rd February 2020
Number of awards:2
Value:UK/EU tuition fees, an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate of £15,009 (for 2019/20 entry) per year, pro rata and a generous research allowance.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions