UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT)

The University of Sussex is proud to be a consortium partner in the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT). The UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT) provides a unique opportunity for transformative and interdisciplinary food systems research. Together, the UKFS-CDT will train over 65 doctoral students from 2021-2027 and create cohorts of future food systems leaders and innovators who can lead the UK towards a resilient, healthy, sustainable and inclusive food future. 

The programme aims to fundamentally transform the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at the centre, addressing questions around what we should eat, produce and manufacture and what we should import, taking into account the complex interactions between health, environment and socioeconomic factors. By co-designing research and training across disciplines and stakeholders and joining up healthy and accessible consumption with sustainable food production and supply, this Programme will deliver coherent evidence to enable concerted action from policy, business and civil society.

Research will be fundamentally interdisciplinary and combine natural sciences and social sciences approaches, and methods. All students will work with food systems stakeholders in their studies. Research can encompass (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Environmental sustainability, climate change (Healthy Environment)
  • Food production, distribution, manufacturing and waste (Healthy Economy)
  • Food Environment, Consumer Behaviour, Diets, Nutrition and Health (Healthy People)
  • Food System Governance and Resilience (Healthy Society)
  • Livestock health and welfare (Healthy Animals)

The UKFS-CDT brings together the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich (lead institution), University College LondonRoyal Veterinary CollegeInstitute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth UniversityCentre for Food Policy at City University, University of Sussex, and Brunel University London; and two leading agricultural research institutes, NIAB EMR and Rothamsted Research, plus over 50 partners from business, government and civil society. The 50-strong network of partner organisations also includes the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and the South Downs National Park. This consortium offers over 350 potential supervisors to support interdisciplinary food systems training in collaboration with the UK Food Systems Academy.

The UKFS-CDT is managed by the Partnership for Sustainable Food Future (PSFF). The UKFS-CDT and the PSFF are supported through the £5 million Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) 'Transforming the UK Food System for Healthy People and a Healthy Environment Programme', delivered by UKRI, in partnership with the Global Food Security Programme, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, Defra, DHSC, PHE, Innovate UK and FSA. 

How to apply

The UK Food Systems PhD studentship competition will open for applications on Thursday 7th January 2021 with a Monday 15th February 2021 deadline.

Find out more about the UK Food Systmes doctoral programme and how to apply on the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT) website.

To complete the application you will need to submit:

  • the UK Food Systems CDT application form with your personal statement
  • two references
  • a CV
  • academic transcripts or professional qualifications
  • proof of English language qualifications and passport scan if applicable

Candidates will be shortlisted in March and interviews will take place in early April.

Understanding that food system challenges are complex, UKFS-CDT values equality, diversity, inclusion and justice. Applications are welcomed from prospective students regardless of age, disability, race/ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. In addition, we encourage individuals who have had career breaks due to, for example, caring responsibilities, work in relevant sectors, or a change in disciplines or career paths to apply.

Although you may express an interest in a research theme or project, you apply to the 4-year programme rather than to a specific project and all applications are submitted on the University of Greenwich application system. If you are accepted onto the programme, you will be registered at Greenwich for the first year of the programme, but will be registered at the institution of your main supervisor for the remaining 3 years.

Project kernel submission

Academics from the Universityof Sussex can submit project kernel ideas now. The deadline for submission is Friday 30th July 2021, 5pm. All information related to the process can be viewed on the project kernel information page.

Contacts at Sussex

At Sussex, the initiative will be coordinated through the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) by the Programme Manager, Fiona Hurd, who will also act as the Sussex EDI champion. Professor Fiona Marshall from the University of Sussex Business School is the Sussex Academic lead for the PSFF consortium mannagement team with Dr Pedram Rowhani from the School of Global Studies as Sussex co-director. There will also be representation from Life Sciences.  Amanda Britt leads from the Sussex Doctoral School.

For general enquires regarding the doctoral programme or the UK Food Systems Academy please contact:

More information

UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT).

News story (October 2020): Sussex joins consortium to create innovative Centre for Doctoral Training and help transform UK food systems.

Overview presentation with Q & A about the Food Systems CDT

CDT Food Systems information presentation








If you are interested in interdisciplinary food systems research and are seeking a PhD opportunity, join our live presentation and Q&A session on Wednesday, 03/02/2021 at 17.00-18.00 GMT. If you would like to register for this event email:, with your name the email address you would like the event invitation to be sent to. The event will be hosted on-line, via Microsoft Teams.