Exploring the impact of a ‘Community Food Researcher’ model for food system transformation: a mixed methods study

Applications are invited for a four-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 January 2022


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Nutrition and Health, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

Project description

Our food system is distorted by inequalities of access and fails the people most in need. Therefore, it is in urgent need of transformation. Critical food justice scholars suggest a more ‘bottom-up’ democratised food system is needed, to engage citizens more fully in the complex food connections that shape their wellbeing. One such (asset-based) model is the ‘community researcher model’ that works alongside local people to co-produce research for social change, [in line with Participatory Action Research]. Within the literature, this model is relatively under-explored in relation to food and the food system, suggesting further investigation of its utility within these contexts.

This project will explore the impact of a ‘community food researcher model’ for food system transformation. The successful candidate will work with Dr Clare Pettinger and Dr Louise Hunt (School of Health Professionals) and Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans (Geography, University of Reading) to champion innovative, participatory and creative mixed-methods approaches across 2–3 case study locations in England. Methods might include realist evaluation; scoping review; mapping and/or cross-case analysis (incorporating observations, ethnography and Appreciative Inquiry interviews), although precise methods are open to negotiation and are likely to evolve as the project progresses.

This PhD opportunity is a complementary part of a UKRI Strategic priorities funded consortium research project (FoodSEqual), led by the University of Reading to explore ‘co-production of healthy and sustainable food systems for disadvantaged communities’. This project embeds the community researcher model to enable co-production and democratised research processes.


Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree in a dietetic/public health nutrition; food or other relevant subject, and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for 4 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Clare Pettinger

Please refer to the list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

This vacancy will involve working with children and/or vulnerable adults and any appointment will be subject a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Monday 30 August 2021. 

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview provisionally set for Thursday 16 September. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.