Farming, labour and landscape in post-Brexit Britain, Sustainable Futures – MPhil/PhD (Funded) Ref: 3023

About the award

This studentship is offered as part of a call between SWBio DTP (BBSRC) and SWDTP (ESRC) for a competition-funded studentship to commence in September 2018. This studentship is in partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Natural England

Location: Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Academic Supervisors:

Professor Jane Wills. University of Exeter
Professor Juliet Osborne, University of Exeter
Professor Matt Lobley, University of Exeter


Project Description:
Agriculture is on the frontline of changes following from Brexit in 2020. This proposed PhD project aims to document the current practices and ambitions of famers and policy-makers who are now able to contribute to the development of a British Agricultural Policy (BAP) to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Based on a partnership with key stakeholders, including the National Farmers Union, Natural England and local land owners with whom we already have partnerships (e.g. Riviera Produce), the project will explore possible farming futures in Cornwall, focusing on current farming inputs, outputs and labour supplies, and the geographical spread and potential change in relation to Brexit. The research will include a number of different types of farm, with a view to modelling a variety of possible outcomes in a post-Brexit agricultural economy. Collected via interviews, surveys and the analysis of farm records over repeated visits, data will be mapped using GIS to illustrate the geography of current inputs, markets and labour supplies. The studentship will provide the opportunity to then collate models of farm management, labour supply, economics and ecosystem service provision that are currently available, with the aim of combining them into a model that can examine the trade-offs between economic and environmental goals, as driven by policy changes. The data will provide an important benchmark that will be modelled for possible futures by testing the impact of different regulatory decisions in the new BAP on economic, social and environmental activities. These models will also be used to discuss the preferred options of farmers and policy-makers in the region, looking at different ways to balance economic and landscape management outcomes. The project is designed so that the data provides a definitive baseline that can be revisited in order to measure the subsequent impact of Brexit and the emerging BAP at regular intervals over the coming decades.


General Information
The SWDTP led studentship will be awarded on a +3 basis, to start in the 2018 academic year and there are no compulsory taught units involved, however they will have access to SWDTP events and some SWBio DTP training opportunities, which can be accessed in line with the PhD project.  An RTSG of £750 per year will also be awarded to the successful ESRC SWDTP candidate.  The studentship will provide funding for 3 years.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, currently £14,777 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the AHRC. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Entry requirements:
Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK in a relevant degree programme.  For further information about eligibility criteria please see


Application deadline:22nd February 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:£14,777 for 3 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral College

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.  Please consult the University of Bristol English Language requirements in the following link

The closing date for applications is midnight on Thursday 22nd February 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Bristol on the 22nd and 23rd of March. 

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722210.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.