Agricultural Systems Management and Environmental Sciences PhD/MPhil/MRes

 
  

Fact file

Qualification
PhD/MPhil/MRes
Duration
PhD 3/4 years full-time/MPhil 2 years full-time/MRes 1 year full-time. Part-time available. Please see University's Quality Manual
Entry requirements

PhD 2:1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.

MPhil/MRes 2:2 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Applicants holding other qualifications may also be accepted.

IELTS
6.0 (no less than 5.5. in any element). If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Please contact the school
Campus
Sutton Bonington
School/department
Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Other requirements

Research overview

There are two specific areas of research available here:

Agricultural Systems and Management

Development of farm and sector-level programming models; impact of climate change on future sustainability and performance of arable and livestock farming systems; development of appropriate farmer adaptation strategies to environmental, market and policy change; impact of farming systems on nitrogen loss and emissions of global warming gases; trade-offs between economics, energy and emissions from the farm level production of feedstocks for second generation bioenergy production; digestible potential of straw for second generation biofuels, encompassing aspects of grower decision making; development of least-cost farming strategies to reduce pollution from agriculture; risk management in agriculture; estimating and explaining variation in technical efficiency; analysis of machinery depreciation rates; examining farm to retail price linkages; understanding consumer knowledge and attitudes towards sustainable food product; analysis of livestock prices through different market mechanisms; the role of benchmarking in rural business management. 

Environmental Sciences

Sustainable soil management and remediation; rhizosphere biophysics; hydropedological applications of X-ray micro Computed Tomography, geochemistry and morphological assessment of permeable reactive barrier longevity; zeolite dissolution kinetics; trace element dynamics in soil-plant systems; plant uptake of heavy metals and radionuclides from contaminated soils; use of stable metal and metalloid isotope tracers to parameterise geochemical models; development of models to support environmental decision making; methods for the development of environmental models; ecological and physiological effects of veterinary drugs in the environment; biochar in sustainable agriculture; plant environment interactions and the development of quantitative palaeoclimate proxies based on plant fossils.

There is a wide range of opportunities for environmental modelling research. This includes applied work such as predicting the transport and fate of environmental contaminants (especially radionuclides and metals); or more fundamental biogeochemical modelling such as the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems. The group also has interests in methods for the evaluation and parameterisation of environmental models. For example model reduction has been applied to a range of models (crop models, contaminant transfer models, ecosystem models) to test whether the level of empirical system understanding justifies model formulation.

The normal duration of a PhD is either 36 or 48 months; MPhil is normally 24 months; MRes is normally 12 months full-time.

 

Facilities

The research work is funded by the research councils, the European Commission, UK charities, government agencies and industry. There are more than 200 research and technical staff and 150 research students. There are 200 research projects with major programmes in plant science, biochemistry, genetics, food science, microbiology, biotechnology, animal physiology, nutrition, and crop science. The campus is well equipped for research ranging from genomics, proteomics and metabolomics to field scale trials to study environmental factors on the growth of crop plants. There is an automatic weather station, field sites for micrometeorology and laboratories with facilities for gas chromatography, atomic absorption analysis, and a major suite for flavour chemistry. There are extensive growth room and glass house facilities that provide a range of controlled environments to study crop growth and development and the production and analysis of transgenic plants. The campus also houses the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre, (the European Centre for Arabidopsis genetic resources). The Tropical Crops Research Unit has a suite of controlled-environment glasshouses in which conditions such as temperature, atmospheric moisture and carbon dioxide concentration can be controlled by a central computer whilst crop stands are able to grow in a natural soil. An arboretum, consisting of about 1.5 hectares and containing over 300 trees and shrubs, many of which are unusual species, provides both an amenity and a scientific and educational resource. 

There are extensive, modern, well equipped laboratories containing a wide range of analytical equipment, stable isotope mass spectrometers, radioisotope suites, tissue culture rooms, and molecular biology equipment. Research in biotechnology is supported by a capillary DNA sequencer and genomics, and proteomics equipment, for plant, animal and microbial investigations. In addition, an animal metabolism unit is used for studies on cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry as well as laboratory animals. 

Research is also conducted into the nutritional quality of plant and animal products for man. The new £7.5m purpose-designed Plant Sciences building houses state-of-the- art genomics equipment and controlled environment facilities to study the growth and development of plants. The Food Sciences Building contains modern equipment for the physio-chemical analysis of food and food structure, including mass spectrometry, high speed preparative and analytical ultra centrifuges, instruments for studying X-ray and light scattering, NMR and an extensive array of rheological techniques. The Food Microbiology laboratories are fully equipped to carry out modern molecular and microbial techniques and include proteomic equipment and an ACGM Category 3 laboratory available to the school for genetic manipulation work. Specialised imaging equipment, including a photon video imaging system, is used in the development of novel approaches to microbiological research. Investigation of fundamental principles of food structure, flavour chemistry and safety has resulted in major links with industrial partners. 

Facilities for animal physiology include laboratory animal accommodation, a surgery, and a suite of rooms with provision for physiological studies including work with radioisotopes. 

The National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics, based within the Food Sciences Building, contains some of the best facilities for analytical ultracentrifugation in Europe. A business arm of the National Centre and also sensory evaluation facilities are located in a separate building. 

Sutton Bonington campus has its own hall of residence, sports centre and social amenities, student guild and wide range of clubs and societies. The campus benefits from state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities dedicated to the study of biosciences, including purpose-built plant and food science buildings; many specialised laboratories; a 24-hour learning resource centre; university farm and a new dairy centre. 

IT facilities

We have an Information Services Learning Resource Centre (ISCRA) comprising a suite of computer resource areas, which is open 24-hours per day via the University smart card. All PC workstations are connected to the University’s data network, and through Joint Academic Network (JANET) to the Internet. 

 

Research support

The school believes that formal training and guidance are critical components of the postgraduate experience and have developed procedures to ensure that both specific and generic training are available and that Postgraduates avail themselves of these opportunities. Specific (project-related) training is provided by the supervisors and other staff within the school. Students can expect to have frequent contact with their supervisors, often on a weekly or even daily basis, and there is a formal requirement for at least 10 recorded meeting per year.

The Graduate School has prime responsibility for the delivery of the generic skills training and has a dedicated training team who provide a comprehensive generic research training programme comprising over 80 different courses. These courses include IT training, presentation skills, intellectual property rights, business studies, career management, research skills and techniques, the research environment and management and courses for students involved in teaching and demonstrating. Courses for students in their final year include writing their thesis and preparing for the viva and CV writing and interview skills. These courses are all designed to enhance the professional and personal skills of the student. Students select which courses to incorporate into their training plans following discussion of their training needs with relevant staff.

The Graduate School operates from the main campus of the University, in a dedicated and well equipped centre or ‘hub’ to provide central coordination, communication and leadership of postgraduate training. However, there is a dedicated postgraduate centre on the Sutton Bonington campus, where the School of Bioscience is located. 

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Students' Union are a particularly important source of support.

 

Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. 

View our current research staff listing (PDF) to find a supervisor whose expertise matches your own research interests.

 

Funding

UK/EU students

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research, these are, the Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas 21 funding. The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of funding. Studentship opportunities are also available.

International students

International Students (outside the European Union) are advised to apply early (October – February) in the academic year to ensure consideration for available scholarships (ORS, International Office). However, as competition for international scholarships is very fierce students are advised also to seek out scholarship opportunities from within their own countries, or agencies such as the World Bank, British Council or ACU. Please see the International Office website for postgraduate funding opportunities for international applicants.

International Students should contact their nearest British Council Office or embassy for advice on financial assistance.

DFID Awards are available for international applicants from developing countries. See the Association of Commonwealth Universities web pages International applicants for information on DFID awards.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of research scholarships for outstanding international and EU students.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your research course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.

 
 

Careers

Visit the school page for additional opportunities.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 97% of postgraduates in the School of Biosciences who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,828 with the highest being £29,800*

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers** and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career. 

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service. 

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

** The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

 
 

Related courses

No related courses
 
 
 
agricultural-environmental-sciences-phd

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Dr Dov Stekel, Associate Professor
School of Biosciences
The University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough
Leics
LE12 5RD

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