UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training

UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training scholarships (2021)

This 4-year programme is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research and interdisciplinary food systems perspectives. Understanding the complex food system challenges requires holistic and novel interdisciplinary thinking. We invite highly motivated individuals from a wide range of academic or career backgrounds including social sciences, humanities and natural and physical sciences to apply.

Type of award

PhD scholarship

PhD project

Your research project 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)

You will have supervisors from at least two UK Food Systems partner organisations ( two academic partners or one academic partner and one non-academic partner from the Food Systems Academy) and will follow the 4 year training programme with taught modules and two research placements/laboratory rotations in year one. You will select and develop your project during year one and will focus on your doctoral project in years two to four.

You apply to the UK Food Systems programme rather than to a specific project, although you can express an interest in a particular theme or project.  




PhD studentships cover four years of UK PhD fees and a tax free maintenance allowance (currently £15,285) plus some research and training costs.

While international students are eligible to apply, the scholarship funding covers only UK fees. The consortium is currently investigating whether it will be able to offer a small number of fee waivers covering the balance between UK and international fees.


Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a Bachelor or Masters degree in a relevant subject with a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent.

We would welcome applicants who have demonstrable skills in research gained from a non-traditional academic background.

Applicants must be confident using computers and show some evidence of numeracy (e.g. minimum GCSE mathematics or statistics or an equivalent).

Applicants whose first language is not English and are not a national of a country deemed by the UK Home Office to be “majority English speaking” must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programme. 

Studentships are open to UK and Overseas students according to the latest UKRI student eligibility rules.  Up to 30% of each cohort of students may be Overseas students, but Overseas PhD fees are not covered and the consortium is investigating whether it can offer a small number of international fee waivers. 

You count as a UK student if you are :

  • a UK national who has been living in the UK or EU for the three years prior to starting your course;
  • an EU national with Settled Status;
  • an EU national with Pre-Settled status who has been living in the UK or the EU for 3 years prior to starting your course;
  • a student with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK;
  • an Irish National (due to a reciprocal agreement with the UK)

All other students (e.g. EU nationals moving to the UK to start their PhD) will count as Overseas students.



Number of scholarships available

UKFS-CDT offers 15+ UKRI doctoral studentships each year.


15 February 2021 0:00 (GMT)

How to apply

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

Further information about applications and about the UK Food Systems doctoral progamme is available on the centre website.

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.

To complete the application you will need to upload:

- 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.

Scholarship success stories


Potential applicants are invited to a live presentation and Q&A session via Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, 03/02/2021 at 17.00-18.00. Please email to register.

Funding partners

The UKFS-CDT is managed by the Partnership for Sustainable Food Future (PSFF), a consortium of nine UK universities and research institutes - the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, University College London, Royal Veterinary College, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, Centre for Food Policy at City University, University of Sussex, and Brunel University London, NIAB EMR and Rothamsted Research, plus over 50 partners from business, government and civil society.

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. 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.

Contact us

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

For Sussex specific questions please contact Amanda Britt, Research and Enterprise -

Further information on the UK Food Systems CDT website.


The timetable is as follows:

Deadline for receipt of application forms including references - February 15th 2021

Shortlisting - March 2021

Inteviews via zoom - early April 2021

Awards confirmed in late April/early May 2021




At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
15 February 2021 0:00 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: