Studentship opportunity

Farmers’ cattle breeding choices: balancing productivity, sustainability and food security objectives

This studentship is funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences

Scotland’s Rural University College
Human Geography, Environment and Urban Planning
Mode of study

Full time / Part time

Application deadline
March 1 2019

Project details

Achieving food security across society while improving the sustainability of food production is a challenge faced by agriculture and the wider food system. For cattle producers the goal is, arguably, to deliver on wide ranging environmental and social objectives such as climate change mitigation and animal welfare whilst remaining profitable. To be viable and sustainable, future livestock production must adapt to changes in environmental factors, markets and policy. Genetics and producer breeding decisions can play an important role in reconciling competing objectives.

The overall aim of this project is to investigate dairy and beef farmers’ past and intended future cattle breeding decisions. The successful candidate will use a suite of social science methods, develop valuable research and analytical skills in qualitative and quantitative method, econometrics and use of big data sets. The project will allow the successful candidate to work in an interdisciplinary environment, conducting research of interest to policy makers and the farming industry. The project would suit a graduate in social sciences, economics, agricultural or environmental/ecological/biological sciences.

This is a full-time PhD scholarship with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the University of Edinburgh, commencing October 2019. The PhD studentship is funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences (SGSSS). Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria (see further particulars). The scholarship is available to support either a 3-year research degree, or a 4-year programme incorporating a Masters course followed by 3-year research degree, which makes this PhD programme suitable for candidates who have no or limited social science skills.

About the institution

SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) in Edinburgh, Scotland is a widely respected higher education institute dedicated to producing specialist research, delivering high quality education and providing comprehensive consultancy services in the rural sector within the UK and beyond. An organisation unique in Scotland and one of the largest organisations of its kind in Europe; we aim to lead the way in innovation and sustainable development in the agriculture and rural sectors at local, national and international levels. The student will be a member of the Land Economy, Environment and Society Research Group (LEES). LEES is one of the largest groupings of economists and social scientists working in the rural, agricultural and land based sectors in the UK. Its vision is to be recognised as one of the leading centres for agricultural and wider rural economic and social research globally, benefiting the land use sector, the environment and rural communities.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably in a relevant subject (social sciences, economics, agricultural, environmental/biological sciences)
  • Demonstrate an interest in, or knowledge of, one or more of the following areas: agricultural and veterinary sciences and agricultural economics.
  • Have a track record of excellent performance in previous academic studies

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.  The programme will commence in October 2019.  It includes
  • an annual maintenance grant at the UKRI rate (2019/20 rate £15,009 full-time)
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other information

Part time study (at least 50%) is an option, stipend rates paid pro rata. To have an informal discussion about the project, please contact Dr Klaus Glenk / Tel.  +441315354176.

How to apply

  1. Applicants register on GradHub and fill out Equal Opportunities form (this is a requirement of the application process)
  2. Applicants complete and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • References
  • CV
  1. Applicants submit application through GradHub

Selection process

The closing date for all applications will be 1st March 2019. Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 8th March. Interviews will take place on 14th March. All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within SRUC.  Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Supervisor/Contact details

Dr Klaus Glenk