Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Agriculture and Food Security PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Agriculture and Food Security

Our research and associated education and engagement are in two broad themes – Food System Transformation and Healthy People, Healthy Planet, and especially the interactions between them.

Improving the effectiveness and sustainability of agri-food systems is vital to tackling the challenges of:

  • global population growth
  • rapid urbanisation
  • food and environmental security
  • diet and health

These challenges occur in low and middle income countries, as well as in more industrialised nations.

Achieving sustainable, healthy diets underpins many of the Sustainable Development Goals – especially those concerned with:

  • hunger
  • poverty
  • health
  • gender equality
  • responsible consumption and production
  • climate action

We welcome applicants whose research interests are aligned to address one or more of these challenges, and who hold the potential to develop and translate scientific advances into policy and practice.

Most of our research is interdisciplinary in its approach, and we collaborate with other Schools and groups across the University of Edinburgh, and with a wide range of national and international partners.

Our current specific expertise spans:

  • nutrition and health of humans, livestock, crops and soils
  • environmental and agri-food systems
  • crop and livestock production systems
  • climate smart agriculture
  • agricultural and natural resource economics
  • development
  • data science and mathematical modelling
  • the science-policy interface
  • food and land rights and law

We welcome applicants with interests in these areas. Please also see staff webpages for more details of potential supervisor research interests.

Study is by supervised research.

Individual students are integrated within their supervisor’s group and school. You will participate fully in activities such as journal clubs, group meetings and seminar programmes.

You will be expected to complete a piece of original research, directed towards solving important, novel and open questions.

Depending on the field of study you are interested in, you may be able to apply for a pre-defined PhD project, or you may need to develop your own research idea.

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems provides a vibrant community and forum for the development of ideas, collaboration, and dissemination of results. It also presents an environment for training, development and mentoring of research students and early-career researchers.

Research projects are usually co-designed by students and supervisors, and guidance throughout the PhD is also offered by the student’s thesis committee. Training needs are identified by the thesis committee and will be both generic skills-based and project specific.

The University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD) provides a range of training courses, resources and support for researchers including PhD students.

There will also be the opportunity, where appropriate, to attend Global Academy MSc degree programme lectures and to make use of online learning materials.

There is also the opportunity for industry engagement or placements within the PhD programme.

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems has access to an impressive range of facilities and services across the University. It is involved with a number of collaborative centres of research excellence locally, nationally and internationally. We are exceptionally well-equipped with the latest technologies to enable our researchers to stay at the forefront of their fields.

A wide range of career paths will be available to our graduates depending on their area of research study, these include:

  • researchers in academia or industry
  • policy advisors for government departments, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), charities or industry bodies
  • technical advisors
  • consultants
  • teachers
  • economists
  • marketing and management roles throughout the agri-food chain

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent in a related subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDAgriculture and Food Security3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDAgriculture and Food Security6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • The Roslin Institute and The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Roslin
  • Easter Bush
  • Midlothian
  • EH25 9RG

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • The Roslin Institute and The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Roslin
  • Easter Bush
  • Midlothian
  • EH25 9RG