PhD Opportunities

We will be advertising PhD studentship opportunities in December 2023 for projects starting in autumn 2024.

Being a FoodBioSystems DTP funded student

As a fully funded 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).

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.

About the studentships

Stipend (Salary)

FoodBioSystems DTP students receive an annual tax free stipend (salary) which is paid in instalments throughout the year. For 2023/24 this is £18,622 (or £20, 622 for a studentship based at Brunel University). The pay increases slightly each year at rate set by UKRI.

Academic Eligibility

An upper 2nd class degree (or equivalent) is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (see the project descriptions 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: Aberystwyth UniversityBrunel University, Cranfield University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Reading, University of Surrey.

Funding Eligibility 

Home students

The majority of our funding (minimum 70%) is available to students with UK/home fees status. To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• be a UK or Irish National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter

For further information about eligibility for UK home fees status please see:
For studentships in England (Brunel, Cranfield, Reading, Surrey):
For studentships in Belfast:
For studentships at Aberystwyth:

International students

We also welcome applications from international students (any applicant who does not meet home fees eligibility criteria) and we receive many excellent applications each year.

However, we are only able to offer up to 30% of our funding to international students. Success rates (2021-23) are outlined in the table below:

Cohort Number of applicants with international student status % International applicants awarded a studentship
2021 467 1.3%
2022 501 1.4%
2023 774 0.9%

Further funding eligibility information

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 students at the host universities.

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.

Part-time registration

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.

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 to apply

When studentships are available, they are advertised on this website and on Applications are by an online application form (CVs will not be accepted). 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.

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 selected for an interview, a panel of reviewers from the DTP Selection Committee will also 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 selection panel assessment is 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.