University of Oxford Featured PhD Programmes
University of Oxford Featured PhD Programmes
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) Featured PhD Programmes

Leverhulme project: Environmental knowledge, sustainability and tropical ecosystems

Department of Biology

About the Project

A PhD studentship is available to understand how knowledge of the environmental benefits of sustainable palm oil and soy practices affect consumer and producer perceptions and decisions. Using interdisciplinary approaches, you will evaluate the extent to which current sustainability practices will succeed in protecting biodiversity in these hyper-diverse tropical ecosystems where these crops are produced. You will be based in the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB) at the University of York, supervised by leading experts in this field, Jane Hill, Lindsay Stringer, Bob Doherty and Chris West.

Through a range of methods, including international fieldwork, the project will:
- Review sustainability practices, stakeholder roles and how knowledge of their effectiveness for biodiversity affects implementation and compliance;
- Examine how stakeholder knowledge of sustainable supply chain initiatives affects choices by business and consumers of which products to purchase/source, and from whom;
- Determine farmer perceptions of benefits/disbenefits of sustainability practices and trade-offs between yield, management and biodiversity.

You will have a background in ecology, environmental or social sciences. It will require quantitative skills, and an ability to critically analyse the evidence for biodiversity benefits of sustainability practices. You will develop and apply skills in questionnaire design and analysis, participatory and stakeholder engagement/knowledge exchange methods, and socio-economic methods. You will carry out ecological field work, testing ways in which sustainability practices enhance biodiversity, and using satellite forest-cover data to quantify deforestation patterns in landscapes with/without high take-up of sustainability certification, and test biodiversity benefits of Zero Deforestation Commitments (ZDCs).

LCAB will provide you with opportunities to interact with other students and researchers across departments and institutions, and will offer additional training as required. Please check the LCAB website

An opportunity is also available to submit your own proposal for a fully funded studentship with LCAB.

The LCAB and the Department of Biology are committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This studentship covers UK fees for 4 years and a tax-free stipend to match the UKRI’s minimum rate for 2021/22 (estimated £15,860 per year) for 3.5 years. Non-UK citizens are welcome to apply but must pay the difference between the international tuition fees (£22,250 for 2021/22) and the UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22).


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this research project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the project.

If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021

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