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

Led by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, the UKFS-CDT aims to develop the next generation of food system change makers for a healthy and sustainable food future.


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)

Partner organisations and funding 

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. 

Application process

The UK Food Systems PhD studentship competition normally opens for applications in January and closes in mid-February. 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.

Find out more about the UK Food Systmes doctoral programme and how to apply on the dedicated University of Sussex PhD and scholarship and UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT) website

The UKFS-CDT has up to 28 studentships available for cohort 3. Please apply by 23:59 GMT on Monday, 23 January 2023.

All applicants are invited to join an introductory online webinar on Wednesday, 14 December 2022 (15:00-16:00 GMT) or Tuesday, 10 January 2023 (17:30-18:30 GMT).

Contacts at Sussex

At Sussex, the initiative will be coordinated through the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) by the Programme Manager, Sephora Imomoh, who will also act as the Sussex EDI champion. Prof 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.

Academics from the University of Sussex can submit project kernel ideas. All information related to the process can be viewed on the project kernel information page.

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

More information