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Free School Meals, Diet Quality and Food Insecurity in Secondary School Pupils

   School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences

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  Prof J Woodside, Dr M McKinley  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Not having enough money to buy food is known as food insecurity and is common in UK children. Free school meals (FSM) are offered to children based on household income. Although all schools offer FSM, about 1 in 5 pupils do not take up their meal. There are also differences between schools in how many pupils take up FSM. We do not understand what influences whether pupils take up their FSM in different schools. We also do not know how FSMs are related to the quality of the food children eat and whether schools with higher uptake of FSM have pupils with better diets than pupils in schools with lower uptake of FSM. Understanding these things will help us to improve the policy of offering FSM to look after the most nutritionally vulnerable children in society. This studentship aims to look at how differences in FSM uptake in schools relates to the food children eat, the quality of this food, and their food insecurity.  

Funding eligibility: ROI (and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled) status may be eligible for funding. Please review the DfE T&C’s.


The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

Funding Notes

Funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE). For UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved tuition fees and maintenance support (Fees £4,500, Stipend £15,609 – 2023 TBC). To be considered eligible you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the full 3 year period prior to the start of the studentship and you must be ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland on the first day of the start of the studentship. For further information about eligibility criteria please refer to the DfE Postgraduate Studentship Terms and Conditions 2022-23 at


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Public Health, website for further details about the Centre:
Please click on the 'Apply Now' button to apply.
When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School
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