Course overview

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 doctorate comprises three components:

Part 1 taught component

The objective of the taught component is to provide participants 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). Participants 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 AFTP 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 AFTP’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

Completing this course results in a postgraduate qualification. See Our Qualifications for more information.


Learning outcomes

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.



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)
    • 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:

  • 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
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:

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.
  •     Literature review and research plan

    This requires participants 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.
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.

Support and guidance

Following acceptance on to the course, each participant will have the opportunity to discuss their individual needs with members of the course team resulting in an agreed plan of study. All participants 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 participant.


Key facts

Typically 5-6 years (Part time)
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. It is recommended that candidates are employed within a UK based agrifood company during the period of their study. Participants will undertake an extended project where the majority of research is undertaken in the workplace. The University cannot guarantee to find participants who are not employed a suitable project.
Fee info
Fees will vary depending on the course modules chosen
IFST Membership
Your course enrolment also entitles you to one year of free membership to the IFST (Institute of Food, Science and Technology).
Course Provider
University of Nottingham
Course Arrangements
Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
Course Location
University of Nottingham
AFTP Cohort
My AFTP training course has given me greater confidence day-to-day and more insight into the impact of new techniques and technologies.
Andy Russell - Fresh Produce Technologist, Bakkavor

Our partners

Our funder