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Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in Antimicrobial Resistance Research: Herd Health Planning and the Management of Antimicrobials in Livestock Systems

Project Description

Reducing the use of unnecessary antimicrobial medicines in livestock farming has become an important component in the increasingly global drive to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human (and animal) pathogens. One potentially effective approach is the use of farm-specific herd health plans - as negotiated and contextual mechanisms of responsibilisation and guidance - and standard operating procedures (SOPs) - as new and innovative non-regulatory forms of intervention. Both these approaches aid record-keeping, monitoring and decision making in anticipating, planning for and implementing on-farm responses to animal illness and disease. This interdisciplinary thesis (co-funded by the Medical Research Foundation, MRF) will - using social science approaches to the investigation of veterinary and on-farm practice - examine the role of herd health planning and SOPs in promoting responsible antimicrobial use on UK dairy farms.

Working with veterinarians and livestock farmers, the research will track the use of herd health plans and SOPs, and, in so doing, will assess the role of specific on-farm contexts (environment, livestock, disease history) as well as the processes of farmer/veterinarian negotiation in the setting and meeting of plan requirements and objectives. Over its course, the interdisciplinary thesis will monitor and evaluate the use of these plans and SOPs in tackling the issue of antimicrobial use and in providing an effective management tool for this purpose. As part of what is becoming a major MRF cohort of AMR PhDs, the thesis will make a significant contribution to the development of effective tools for achieving sustainable medicine use on livestock farms.

Potential applicants interested in further information are encouraged to contact Professor Henry Buller

Benefits of joining the Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in AMR Research:
• All PhD projects will be based within interdisciplinary research consortia funded by the UKRI Cross-Council AMR Initiative.
• All students will have access to enhanced training opportunities including residential skills and training courses, cohort-building activities, and annual conferences. All are designed to expose students to a range of discipline-specific languages and interdisciplinary research skills, which are essential for enabling them to thrive as multidisciplinary AMR researchers.
• PhD students will undertake a fully-funded 3-month interdisciplinary AMR project allowing them to work outside of their primary research area or an elective placement in industry, publishing, media, policy development or in AMR-relevant charities and organisations.
• All Medical Research Foundation-funded PhD students will also be part of a wider cohort of 150 PhD students from across the UK who are also studying AMR. The cohort will have access to a bespoke, innovative online learning environment, which will facilitate peer-to-peer networking, question setting and mentoring.
Further information can be found on our website:

Applicants must ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements of the University of Exeter. To qualify for Home tuition fee status, you must be a UK or EU citizen who has been resident for 3 years prior to commencement. Please note that overseas students not eligible for Home (UK/EU/EEA citizens) tuition fee status will be eligible for funding through this Programme but the student must pay the difference between the annual Home tuition fee and the tuition fees required for overseas students. Overseas students should be able to demonstrate adequate financial support to cover the difference between the Home/EU fee and the overseas fee. Applicants are also required to meet the University of Exeter’s English language requirements.


In order to apply, please click on the 'Apply Now' button in the link above. Please quote reference 3455 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship. For admission enquiries, please contact

Funding Notes

This is 4 year fully-funded PhD studentship funded jointly by the Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in AMR (led by the University of Bristol) and the University of Exeter. The studentship covers:

• Annual tuition fees at the Home/EU rate
• Stipend at MRC ’plus’ rate £17,000 (2019-20) rising to £18,500 (tax free).
• Yearly travel allowance
• Research costs
• Interdisciplinary 3-month research project/placement allowance

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