Triangle

Research overview

Our current areas of interest include:

  • Crossmodal perception - how taste, aroma and texture integrate to elicit flavour perception
  • Investigating individual variation in perception e.g. High Sweet Likers, Supertasters and Thermal tasters
  • Measuring emotional response to sensory properties
  • Utilising digital technology (for example Virtual Reality) to investigate context effect on product evaluation
  • Understanding consumer sustainable behaviours
  • Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to understand flavour and taste perception

Our PhD/MPhil/MRes course provides a sound theoretical background that underpins the multidisciplinary field of sensory science. You will:

  • develop the ability to critically evaluate published scientific papers
  • plan experimental sensory programmes and report and interpret sensory data
  • be immersed within a research environment and develop the skills needed to undertake independent research

Find out more about our sensory science research.

Course content

Core Modules

The award of MRes requires 180 credits in total for completion.

The course is divided into a taught element, followed by a research project to be carried out either within the university's own Sensory Science Centre (full-time route) or within industry (part-time route). In each case funding for the research project needs to be provided by an industrial sponsor.

Flavour plays an important role in our enjoyment of food, consumption experience, repeat purchase and health and wellbeing. It can be measured by both scientific instruments and sensory panels. But what are the differences between the two, and how can we use them to solve current challenges in the food industry?

In this module, you will study:

  • the chemistry, physics and physiology of food flavour
  • advanced methods to measure sensory and consumer perceptions of food
  • factors that affect our sensory perception and food choice, like genetics
  • a range of analytical techniques (APCI-MS, GC-MS, GC-O and HPLC-MS) for flavour analysis
  • dynamic flavour release and its role in eliciting flavour perception

You will respond to a current food industry challenge and apply the advanced knowledge you have gained from this module to design and present a realistic scientific solution to a technical brief.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules.

A PhD is an independent in-depth research project. You will be able to develop additional skills through training programmes to help you complete your PhD. See the support section for more details.

In each year you will have a regular meetings with your supervisor and an annual review.

An MPhil is a shorter research degree. You will do a research project over one to two years. You'll have a supervisor to support you. An MPhil is assessed by a research thesis.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

QualificationPhD/MPhil/MRes
Degree

2:1 BSc/BA (Hons) (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, or 2:2 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject with a Merit at masters; other qualifications may also be accepted

QualificationPhD/MPhil/MRes
Degree

2:1 BSc/ BA (Hons) (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject, or 2:2 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject with a Merit at masters; other qualifications may also be accepted

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element). If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

For all of our research degrees, the first step is to identify one or more supervisors you would like to work with.

To do this, look through our academic staff research interests. We strongly encourage contacting supervisors before making a formal application, to discuss potential research projects and to ensure the best application possible.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Fees

QualificationPhDMPhil/MRes
Home / UK£4,850£4,850
International£28,700 for low-cost projects, £34,000 for high-cost lab-based, £39,000 for technically intensive or specialised projects with high consumable costs, or £50,000 for exceptional technically intensive or specialised projects with high consumable costs. An assessment will be made on receipt of your project proposal and confirmed in your offer letter. For details, contact biosciences-research@nottingham.ac.uk.£28,700 or £34,000 depending on the nature of your project. An assessment will be made on receipt of your project proposal and confirmed in your offer letter. For details, contact biosciences-research@nottingham.ac.uk.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books and journals you’ll need through our libraries.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

The school believes that formal training and guidance are critical components of the postgraduate experience and have developed specific and generic training which are available for all postgraduates.

Project-related training is provided by the supervisors and other staff within the school. You will have frequent contact with your supervisor, often on a weekly or even daily basis, and there is a formal requirement for at least 10 recorded meetings per year.

Teaching is typically delivered by professors, associate and assistant professors. Some practical laboratory sessions and research projects may be supported by postdoctoral research fellows.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Sensory Science Centre

The Sensory Science Centre has the latest facilities, including a suite of 10 booths with controlled temperature, lighting and ventilation. A second room provides an evaluation space with 10 further booths and a discussion area. Two other booths link with additional instrumentation such as the Thermode for screening thermal taster status and physiological recording equipment.

Virtual Reality is also available at the centre to create relevant context for consumer testing.

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

rebecca ford
I have experience in food manufacturing, new product development, sensory panel training, non-food sensory (cosmetics) and consumer insights. My research expertise include investigating taste perception, individual variation in sensory perception and oral somatosensation, multimodal flavour perception and method development for understanding consumer behaviour.
Dr Rebecca Ford, Associate Professor in Sensory and Consumer Science

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 7th in the UK for research power (2021), according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 04 November 2022. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.