Professional Doctorate in Agrifood (D. AgriFood)


Fact file

D.AgriFood AgriFood
Part time 6 Years
Entry requirements
Candidates will usually be expected to have a first degree (minimum of second class upper division) in any Biological, Chemical or Physical Science subject
Other requirements
It is recommended that candidates are employed within a UK based agrifood company during the period of their study. Students will undertake an extended project where the majority of research is undertaken in the workplace. The University cannot guarantee to find students who are not employed a suitable project.
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
January, April and September each year
Courses are taught either by e-learning or at campuses of the Agrifood ATP academic partners (Sutton Bonington, Cranfield, Harper Adams and Rothamsted). Independent research will be undertaken on a part time basis within an industrial setting with support from University academic staff.
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


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The PhD AgriFood has been developed in conjunction with the agrifood industry as a highly flexible programme that can be tailored to individual training needs, to enable professionals working in the agrifood sector to undertake high level, structured, continuing professional development.

The University of Nottingham, in conjunction with Cranfield University, Harper Adams University and Rothamsted Research are working in partnership to develop and deliver this innovative programme that will enable participants to develop their work-based learning and research skills.

The doctorate comprises three components:

Part 1 taught component

The objective of the taught component is to provide students with the theoretical, practical and transferable skills for a continuing career in the Agrifood and allied industries, in a part-time format that will fulfil the requirements for Continued Professional Development (CPD). Students will achieve 120 credits, where a minimum of one third of credits will be taken at the University of Nottingham. The remaining two thirds may be taught by one of the AATP partners or may be transferred in using approved APL or APEL.

Parts 2 and 3

These parts enable participants to demonstrate the capacity to undertake original research in the field and thereby contribute to the growing body of knowledge and technology in the AgriFood industries. By the end of the programme candidates will have:

  • acquired a range of research skills;
  • studied in depth the growing literature in their particular field;
  • demonstrated the application of knowledge and research skills within their field of interest;
  • produced a thesis of original quality to a standard worthy of a doctorate.

Key facts

  • This programme has been specially developed by professionals in the School of Biosciences, one of the University's most successful schools, in conjunction with the AgriFood ATP’s academic and industrial partners and collaborators
  • Our dynamic teaching and research team offers the opportunity to learn under the guidance of expert practitioners, educators and researchers. 

You will have the opportunity to:

  • gain a thorough knowledge of agrifood science and technology
  • develop skills of analysing technical problems and work based problem solving  
  • develop practical skills in relation to work related situations and issues 
  • evaluate research in agrifood and allied disciplines
  • produce an extended research thesis related to the agriFood industry

Course details

This programme has been designed with maximum flexibility in mind: you study part-time and follow a modular structure which allows you to progress at a rate to suit your own personal and professional situation. To progress to the doctorate you will need to study 3-4 modules in the first three years. There is only one compulsory module and you are able to discuss study options with the course leader. You will be expected to complete your course of study in no more than six years.

Course structure and dates

Modules run throughout the year and are timed to fit in with industry requirements. The professional doctorate requires the following three elements of study and research activities for completion:

  1. Taught element

    120 credits (core modules 10 credits; optional modules 110 credits) (a) Core module - Statistics and experimental design for bioscientists (compulsory for doctorate programme)
    (b) Optional modules which you choose to suit your area of interest and personal commitments.

  2. Literature review and research plan

    This requires students to write a literature review for the general research area proposed, in consultation with a University project supervisor(s). The literature review should be a critical review of the current research relevant to the project and provide a focussed account of the previous work leading up to the current state of knowledge on the questions to be investigated. This will require finding appropriate literature from library/electronic sources and bringing together related aspects of the work into a cohesive overview.

    The second task is to complete an initial 10-12,000 word research plan. The research plan should include a clear statement of the problem to be investigated (the overall aim), the resources available and the rationale behind the design of the study.

    Part 2 also includes a compulsory presentation at the annual AATP symposium.

  3. Research and thesis phase
    Part 3 requires candidates, in consultation with their project supervisors, to undertake original research in an approved topic in a relevant field and complete a 50,000-60,000 word thesis.

Where will I study?

The programme is taught at one of the four AgriFood ATP partners: 

Sutton Bonington is 20km south of Nottingham. The campus is a 25 minute bus or car journey to University Park Campus, with connections to Nottingham City. The campus is only 4.5 km from the new East Midlands Parkway railway station at Ratcliffe on Soar with direct links to London (90 mins), Nottingham, Derby, Leicester.

Student support and guidance

Following acceptance on to the course, each student will have the opportunity to discuss their individual needs with members of the course team resulting in an agreed plan of study. All students will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will provide academic and pastoral support throughout the course. Information on University provisions for student support will be given to each student.

Academic enquiries

Informal discussions with the course manager are possible. Please contact Dr Debbie Sparkes:

t: +44 (0)115 951 6074




Please note that module availability may change from year to year and different modules may be available from those detailed below. 
Core module
Statistics and Experimental Design for Bioscientists (10 credits)
Summary of content: Principles of experimentation in agrifood science, basic statistical principles, experimental design, hypothesis testing, sources of error, analysis of variance, regression techniques, presentation of data, use of Genstat for data analysis. There are two routes through the module; one focusing on crop improvement and one focusing on more general issues.
Optional modules
Please see our module web pages for a full list and more information.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK-based students employed in the Agrifood sector

It is highly likely that you will qualify for a bursary for the whole of your course. Please look at our funding page to find out about the bursary application process.
If you are currently not in employment it may be possible to gain funding through the Agrifood Charities PartnershipTo find out more about funding please contact Ms Deborah Kendale by emailing or by telephoning 0115 951 6285.

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government plans to introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes from 2018. Applicants must ordinarily live in England and more details are expected to be announced in due course.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



This course is designed for people who are currently working in the agrifood sector to enhance your career prospects and promotion 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.* 

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2014/15.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Get in touch
+44 (0)115 951 6285
Make an enquiry


Ms Deborah Kendale
Agrifood ATP manager
School of Biosciences
The University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
LE12 5RD
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Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
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