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Elphinstone Scholarship - The healthfulness and sustainability of food practices across the lifecourse of adults in Scotland

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Dr David Watts, Prof Jennie Macdiarmid, Dr John McKenzie  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD will bring together critical sociology and public health nutrition approaches into dialogue by adopting an innovative mixed-method phenomenological research (MMPR) approach to examine the healthfulness and environmental sustainability of eating patterns of adults in Scotland across their lifecourses. The Scottish Government have a number of policies, such as the Good Food Nation, and provide nutritional guidance aimed at enhancing the healthfulness and sustainability of the nation’s diet by reducing consumption of meats, fat and salt and replacing this with fruit, vegetables and more sustainable meat alternatives. However, more work needs to be done if the aims of these initiatives are to be met. This PhD will add to the knowledge base that informs these policies and guidelines and therefore has the potential for achieving high impact.

The successful candidate will explore continuity and change in food practices across the lifecourse in order to identify when and why dietary revisions are more likely to be accurately informed by governmental guidelines on healthy and environmentally sustainable diets. Building on previous research conducted at the Rowett Institute and drawing on expertise from public health nutrition, the student will critically review existing literature and develop, with appropriate guidance, a means of assessing the degree to which people in Scotland hold an accurate understanding of governmental dietary guidelines for a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet. They will also conduct a systematic literature review of the nutrition-related work over the lifecourse in terms of targeted times for effective intervention. The phenomenological approach and life history interviews will provide new insights into the lived subjective experience of constructing and maintaining food practices in the messy context of everyday life across the lifecourses of research participants. The MMPR approach and the nutritional assessment tool will allow the student to identify: the facilitators and barriers to acquiring an accurate understanding of government guidelines for a healthy and sustainable diet; and when and why these dietary guidelines are likely to be accurately translated into healthy and sustainable eating practices.

Informal enquiries are encouraged, please contact the lead supervisor, Dr David Watts ([Email Address Removed]) for further information.

Essential background of student:

Applicants should hold a 1st Class UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject. Those with a 2:1 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) may be considered, provided they have (or are expected to achieve) a Distinction or Commendation at Master’s level.



Please note: The funding for this project covers tuition fees and research costs only, no stipend or living costs are provided.

  • Formal applications can be completed online:
  • You should apply for Medical Sciences (PhD) to ensure your application is passed to the correct team.
  • Please clearly note the name of the lead supervisor and project title on the application form. If you do not mention the project title and the supervisor on your application it will not be considered for the studentship.
  • Please include a personal statement, an up-to-date copy of your academic CV, and relevant educational certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate and postgraduate (if applicable)).
  • Please note: you DO NOT need to provide a research proposal with this application
  • CV's submitted directly through a FindAPhD enquiry WILL NOT be considered.
  • General application enquiries can be made to [Email Address Removed] 

Funding Notes

This 36 Month project is funded by a prestigious University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. This opportunity is open to UK and International students and includes funding to cover tuition fees and research costs only. No stipend or living costs are provided.
Funding for international students does not cover visa costs (either for yourself or for accompanying family members), immigration health surcharge or any other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK.
The expected start date is February 2023.
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