Skip to main content

Award details

Wellcome Trust and University funded PhD Studentship: Do Not Feed the Animals? Ordering animal feeding from local to global Ref: 4046

About the award

Project Description:

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship in Sociology as part of the Wellcome-Trust funded From 'Feed the Birds' to 'Do Not Feed the Animals' project ( This fully funded studentship, starting in September 2021, will be based at the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter, in the CRPR (Centre for Rural Policy Research)

Signs stating ‘Do not feed the animals’ are ubiquitous in zoos, national parks and urban spaces across the UK. They stress that uncontrolled feeding by people can affect animal health, alter wildlife behaviour and create public hygiene and nuisance issues. However, humans seem to have a widespread and longstanding proclivity to feed other animals. Many ancient cults fed animals, some modern religions require it, and feeding is often actively encouraged as a tourist attraction. Millions of people feed wildlife in gardens and in 2018, the pet-food industry was worth £2.7 billion in the UK alone, trends which have accelerated since the start of the global pandemic. Do Not Feed The Animals (DNFTA) is exploring these fascinations with animal feeding, alongside their consequences for the shared health of humans, other animals and wider environments.

DNFTA is a collaboration between Exeter’s Departments of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology and Exeter Archaeology; with project partners at the University of Roehampton (Anthropology), University of Reading (Geography and Environmental Science), and National Museums of Scotland (Department of Natural Sciences).

Do Not Feed the Animals? Ordering animal feeding from local to global.

This PhD project will investigate questions relating to the social ordering and governance of animal feeding.  How do we collectively decide which animals should or should not be fed, by whom and in what contexts? What actions should be taken when animals start eating foods that people don’t want them to? What roles are played by everyday experience and expert knowledge in determining what food is appropriate? In turn, what roles does this knowledge play in the practical governance of animal feeding? What are the effects of ‘DNFTA’ signage and other forms of public engagement on feeding practices? How is animal feeding being shaped by rapidly changing 21st century food systems?

In line with the broader scope of DNFTA, the candidate will work as part of our larger research team while developing their own independent doctoral research project focused on one or more of the above-mentioned themes. The candidate will join a lively cohort of excellent early career researchers who have been joining DNFTA over this year: they will be co-supervised by staff based in CRPR at Exeter and members of the DNFTA team. They will be expected to work closely with DNFTA colleagues across all disciplines and engage with external stakeholders and publics in the co-production of their research.

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Dr. Angela Cassidy


Entry requirements

You should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent. At the point of applying, you should hold, or expect to hold, a relevant Master's degree, or have equivalent research experience in a relevant field (e.g. history of science, technology and medicine; science and technology studies; human geography; sociology; anthropology; environmental social science; policy studies).

If your undergraduate degree is not in social science or humanities, you MUST have a Masters degree OR relevant experience that is in one of the above social science/humanities areas. 

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.

Residency Entry Requirements:

1) UK only - This studentship, including full tuition fees and maintenance allowance, is available to UK candidates.

2) International students can apply and pay the difference in tuition fees.


How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter, a research proposal (please see below for details) and details of two academic referees, and if relevant, proof of your English language proficiency, by 2 August 2021.

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

You will also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most recent 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 2 August 2021.

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 4046 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.

For general information about this studentship and the application process, please contact

Interview Date: Week commencing 16/8/21



Application deadline:2nd August 2021
Number of awards:1
Value:[UK/EU and international] tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Wellcome Trust rate of £19,919 per year
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions - 0044 (1392) 723044