ESRC/DTP studentship opportunity in examining food and agrarian justice in the Amazon

Cardiff University
Full time Staff

The Human Geography pathway of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP) invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2018.

The following collaborative studentships are available at Cardiff University

‘The Frontiers of Food Sovereignty and Agrarian Justice in the Amazon: A Community-Based Study of Political Agro-ecology in the State of Pará’ (working title)

In collaboration with Agro-ecology in Latin America

Project description:

This doctoral research will generate theoretically original and empirically grounded understandings of the dynamics of, and interconnections between, different agro-ecology stakeholders, consumers, and policy-makers. It will contribute towards enhancing the comprehension of technological and community-based agro-ecological alternatives formulated and legitimised by subsistence farmers and their families in the context of the Amazon region. The research will involve intense engagement with peasant communities to examine the significance of agro-ecological production as a technological, political and socio-cultural response to hegemonic agribusiness pressures.

It will investigate the dynamic formation of identities, values and otherness in development frontiers, as the result of population migration, multiple struggles and intensive interaction with socio-ecological change (Münster, 2015). Making use of a creative combination of research methods, the project will uncover the experienced realities and the material, discursive and representational dimensions of the antagonism between subsistence agriculture and mainstream agribusiness (Meek, 2016).

Through participatory action research (PAR), it will consider the politicised basis of agri-food systems and the politico-economic and socio-cultural aspects of agro-ecological transitions (Sanderson and Ioris, 2017). Methods will include: (i) participant observation of production practices, coping strategies and community life; (ii) interviews and focus groups with peasants and other stakeholders; (iii) reflection and validation of results through meetings, internet and workshops.

The methodological approach will properly conceptualise and deal with market institutions and with the impact of public policies and government decisions on individual life and community initiatives (Brand and Görg, 2008). Conceptual and empirical outcomes will lead to a better understanding of governance, economy and socio-cultural specificities, and well-being and will be of direct benefit to global debates on sustainable transformations and the need to reduce fragmentation by building lasting impacts and multiple competences.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Each institution values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

A short description of the accredited Human Geography pathway is available on the ESRC Wales DTP website.


These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named supervisor and / or the pathway contact for a discussion prior to applying.They are Dr Antonio Ioris (Cardiff University, and Dr Sergei Shubin (Swansea University,

Pathway contact: Professor Mark Jayne


ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master's degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award. Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent parttime job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job. Funding Studentship awards commence in October 2018 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £14,553 per annum for 2017/18 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, oversea institutional visits and other small grants.

How to Apply

To apply, please apply for place via: and include the following documents:

1. Covering letter: Please address to Professor Mark Jayne. The covering letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University, and the chosen pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please specify whether you wish to apply on a ‘+3’ or ‘1+3’ basis. Remember also to specify that your application concerns ESRC Wales DTP collaborative studentships and include in your application the title of the project to which you are applying.

2. Academic / professional qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).

3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves, and submit the references with their application.

4. Curriculum Vitae: It should be no longer than two pages. 5. Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:

  • Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
  • An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study
  • Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study
  • A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic)
  • Bibliographic references. Please note that incomplete applications or applications received after the specified time will not be accepted.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on 1 February 2018. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview; interviews are expected to take place in March 2018. After interview, a final shortlist of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases, successful applicants can expect to hear by mid-April 2018.

Informal enquiries about these studentships are welcome, and should be directed to Professor Dave Clarke (Swansea University, or Professor Mark Jayne (Cardiff University,

Closing date: 
1st February 2018