Competition funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Law

Start dates

October 2024

Application deadline

19 January 2024

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Business and Law, and will be supervised by Dr Penelope-Alexia Giosa and Professor Lisa Jack. 

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive £2,000 for fieldwork purposes.

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.

The work on this project could involve:

  • The conduct of online and/or face to face interviews. 

  • Qualitative data collection, analysis and synthesis.

Food systems are significant contributors to climate change and environmental degradation. However, to date the prevailing paradigm is focusing on the “feed the world” narrative, which gives more attention to the quantity of food produced rather than sustainability, climate adaptation and mitigation. As a result, our food systems have become unsustainable, vulnerable and exclusive. The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine added inflationary pressures to food prices, thus exposing the vulnerability of current food systems as well as their inherent inequality and interlinked nature. Indicatively, an analysis from the Food Foundation in the UK has shown that soaring food prices have led to 7.3 million adults living in households that skipped meals or had to have smaller meals. For these reasons, public procurement should be used as a strategic instrument to stimulate demand for sustainable food products and services. The UK is committed to a resilient, healthier and more sustainable food system. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs envisages the public sector food and catering as an exemplar for wider society, delivering positive health, animal welfare, environmental and socio-economic impacts. Indicatively, the new government plans were announced in August, according to which school children and hospital patients will be set for higher quality food. 

Against this background, this project aims to investigate how the public authorities in England and Scotland are currently delivering on the vision that prioritises a healthier and more sustainable public food sector and to what extent they are falling short. In order to answer this question, the project will explore how and what sustainability aspects are addressed and motivated in public procurement of food in major public institutions. Also, the implemented policies and strategies for improving sustainable food procurement in England and Scotland will be compared with the imminent EU proposal for a legislative Framework for Sustainable Food Systems.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Applicants are required to demonstrate a suitable aptitude to undertake independent research. Knowledge of public procurement law and/or relevant professional experience are an advantage but not essential.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Penelope-Alexia Giosa ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code LLAW8930124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.