Current PhD Opportunities

We are re-advertising 8 projects (at Brunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading and University of Surrey) and expect to award 7 studentships through a competitive process. The successful candidates will join 21 other doctoral research students in our Autumn 2022 cohort. However, please note that due to strict funding conditions these studentships are only available to individuals who are eligible for home student/UK fees status. 

Join us at an Applicant Webinar on Tuesday 31 May (18.15-19.00)

Join DTP Director, Lisa Methven, and three of our current students at our applicant webinar. Lisa will give a short talk introducing the DTP and offer some top tips on what makes a good application. Our students will be ready to answer your questions from a researcher’s perspective. Register for the webinar here.

Being a FoodBioSystems DTP funded student

As a FoodBioSystems postgraduate researcher student you will undertake training that leads towards a PhD and equips you with extra skills and knowledge to support your future career. Your research project will be co-supervised across two institutes within our academic partnership and you will take part in our training programme to gain a core understanding of food systems, data analysis and modelling. You will also follow a programme of subject specific learning, depending on your needs. In addition, you will carry out a professional internship (generally not related to the research project).

You will receive a tax free stipend (salary) for four years so that you can benefit from the DTP training programme in addition to completing your research and submitting your thesis by Autumn 2026.  For 2022/23 this will be £16,062 (or £18, 062 for the studentship based at Brunel University) and this will increase slightly each year at rate set by UKRI.

Information about the individual projects, our commitment to Equality Diversity and Inclusion and essential guidance for applicants is further down this page. Please also explore our website to find our more about the DTP training programme, current projects at the 6 partner universities and meet some of our researchers to check out what they have said about their research and training experiences so far.

How to apply

Applications will be by an online application form (CVs will not be accepted) and the application closing date is 13 June 2022 (10.00 am BST). Before you decide to apply, please check the information below on academic and funding eligibility and language proficiency and read the following guidance:

  • All applications to FoodBioSystems DTP are made via the University of Reading, whether the projects you are interested in are based at Reading, Surrey, Cranfield, Queen’s, Aberystwyth or Brunel.
  • You will be able to apply to a maximum of TWO PhD projects. Each project description indicates the name and institution of the lead supervisor and has a project ID number. You are welcome and encouraged to email the lead supervisors of projects to ask them any questions you may have or to discuss the project.
  • You will need the following documents to support your application
    • Official transcripts of your higher education qualifications, inclusive of grades
    • Evidence of your proficiency in English, if English is not your first language.
  • You will also be asked to provide the name and email address of someone who will provide a confidential academic reference letter. The DTP office will request the letter from your referee if you are shortlisted for interview.

Timetable for recruitment

Action Date/Deadline
Online application form opens on the application website 5 May 2022
Closing date for student applications 13 June 2022 (10.00 am BST)
Shortlisting takes place 16 June 2022
Applicant interview window w/c 27 June and 4 July  (Applicants will be invited to interview between 19 June – 26 June depending on the interview date. All applicants will be asked to give a short (5 minute) research presentation at the interview.)
Award/rejection letters sent to shortlisted candidates 21 July 2022

Project Information


Project Number Project title Lead Supervisor / University Co-Supervisor / University
Brunel University
FBS2022-03-Fern-br ad Designer plant burgers – use of targeted biochemistry and chemistry to generate flavour (taste and aroma) during extrusion of plant protein George Fern, Brunel University Jane Parker, University of Reading
Cranfield University
FBS2022-35-Johnston-cr ad Optimising UK landscapes for agroecosystem resilience Alice Johnston, Cranfield University Simon Potts, University of Reading
FBS2022-38-Kirk-cr ad Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils through silicate weathering Guy Kirk, Cranfield University John Hammond, University of Reading
Queen’s University Belfast
FBS2022-27-Gobert-qa ad Environmental DNA from Fasciola parasites as a novel biomarker to improve agriculture in the UK Geoffrey Gobert, Queen’s University Belfast Peter Brophy, Aberystwyth University
FBS2022-70-Arnott-qr AD Nutritional programming in replacement dairy heifers: Future-proofing herd performance, health and behaviour Gareth Arnott, Queen’s University Belfast Sokratis Stergiadis, University of Reading
University of Reading
FBS2022-71-Hamley-ra AD A New Approach to the Production of Cultured Meat with Enhanced Texture Ian Hamley, University of Reading Ruth Wonfor, Aberystwyth University
University of Surrey
FBS2022-55-Robertson-sr ad Filling the fibre gap: functional and metabolic potential of high amylose wheat Denise Robertson, University of Surrey Julia Rodriguez Garcia, University of Reading
FBS2022-72-Robertson-sr AD Dietary protein, the microbiota and gut barrier function: a gatekeeper of metabolic & immune health Denise Robertson, University of Surrey Marie Lewis, University of Reading

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

The FoodBioSystems DTP is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), to building a doctoral researcher (DR) and staff body that reflects the diversity of society, and to encourage applications from under-represented and disadvantaged groups. Our actions to promote Diversity and Inclusion are detailed here.

Our studentships are offered on a part time basis in addition to full time registration. The minimum registration is 50% FT and the studentship end date will be extended to reflect the part-time registration. We recommend that if part-time studentships are combined with paid employment, the combined time commitment does not exceed 48 hours per week.

Important information about the studentships

Academic Eligibility

An upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (see the project description for more information). Candidates with a lower class of Bachelors degree, but a good performance at the Masters level (“merit” or above) will also be considered. If you have an international qualification, please check the degree course eligibility  information provided by the host universities before you apply to the DTP: Brunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading, University of Surrey.

Stipend (Salary)

FoodBioSystems DTP students receive an annual tax free stipend (salary) which is paid in instalments throughout the year. For 2022/23 this will be £16,062 (or £18, 062 for the studentship based at Brunel University) and this will increase slightly each year at rate set by UKRI.

Funding Eligibility 

Due to funding requirements, these studentships are only open to students who are eligible for home student status. To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter

Funding for PhD studentships from BBSRC is only available to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria set out in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) harmonized training terms and conditions which you can find here. Offers of studentships to successful candidates will be conditional on acceptance onto PhD programmes as home fees students at the host universities.

Please do not apply unless you meet the eligibility criteria for home student status, we will not be able to consider your application. UKCISA provides general guidance to students on eligibility for home fees status.

Language Proficiency

Candidates must show the necessary levels of English proficiency required by the university that will be hosting the PhD Studentship (the university where the project lead supervisor works). If you have completed a degree or higher degree in a course that was taught in English this may be sufficient evidence of your language proficiency. Please check the relevant university website for further details. If the website does not provide the information you are looking for, please contact the relevant university admissions office.
Aberystwyth University
Brunel University
Cranfield University
Queen’s University Belfast
University of Reading
University of Surrey

How we select our students

  • Applications received before the closing date and time will be considered in two stages:
    • The application will considered by the PhD project supervisors who will not know your name, contact details or degree awarding university until after shortlisting.
    • If your application is shortlisted you will receive an invitation to an interview (by skype, teams or zoom). As part of the interview you will be asked to give a short research presentation (maximum 5 minutes) followed by 5 minutes for questions about the presentation. 
    • If you are shortlisted, a panel of reviewers from the DTP Selection Committee will assess the answers you give in the application form.  They will not know your name, contact details or degree awarding university at this stage.
  • Shortlisting and assessment will be based on the information you provide about:
      • your academic qualifications
      • research relevant skills/experience (e.g. data management, data analysis, ability to extract key information from literature, strong writing and presentation skills)
      • the transferable skills important to a PhD student (e.g. organisational, team, communication and problem-solving)
      • your understanding of the UK Agri-Food Sector
      • suitability of your academic background, skills and experience for undertaking the specific PhD project

    The DTP office will request the letter from your referee if you are shortlisted for interview. The selection panel will make the final decision on project allocation, taking into account applicants’ performance at interview and reviewer assessments.