PhD Position in Sociology: Agricultural practices and the regulatory environment that governs antimicrobial use in Ireland

   Natural Sciences

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  Prof T Hodkinson, Prof Elaine Moriarty  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

PhD Position in Sociology                                                        

Agricultural practices and the regulatory environment that governs antimicrobial use in Ireland

Fully funded 4 year PhD available at Trinity College Dublin

The School of Social Sciences and Philosophy and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) seeks to appoint an outstanding and highly motivated PhD candidate with excellent qualifications for a period of 4 full years (48 months). The successful candidate will conduct an innovative PhD project that evaluates agricultural practices and the regulatory environment that governs antimicrobial use in Ireland. 

The PhD candidate will be integrated into a dynamic group of PhD candidates within the research project RESIST-AMR Antimicrobial Resistance: Engineering Natural, One-Health, Systems Thinking Solutions to a Manmade Global Disaster which is funded by the Prendergast Challenge Awards, a prestigious award from Trinity College Dublin. Antimicrobials are critical resources for human, animal and plant health. With the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and the lack of new antimicrobials, we face an unprecedented global environmental, food security and human health threat. RESIST-AMR is a structured PhD training programme which umbrellas the Schools of Natural Sciences, Genetics and Microbiology, Medicine, Engineering, Social Science and Philosophy and Computer Science and Statistics and external collaborators Teagasc agriculture and food development authority. Applying a multi-disciplinary approach, RESIST PhD candidates will perform critical analysis of environmental and human ‘resistomes’ from agricultural settings and analyse agricultural stakeholders’ practices and policies to identify institutional reform implications. 

This PhD project will evaluate the agricultural practices and the regulatory environment that governs antimicrobial use in Ireland. There is a gap in knowledge regarding decision making on farms around antimicrobial usage.  The core of the research approach involves a whole population survey on the social and economic factors (e.g. gender, age, education) that influence the motivations and attitudes of farmers in Ireland towards the use of anti-microbials on their farms. An analysis of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) will be undertaken, particularly focusing on those with farming backgrounds. A qualitative panel study will track decision making and the kind of change farmers are willing to make on a range of farm types over 2 years. To understand the policy implications, interviews will be conducted with key stakeholders who supply anti-microbials to farmers and the regulatory environment that governs antimicrobial use in Ireland (including vets, agri-business, governmental departments, farming bodies). In doing so, this project will reveal the micro level processes involved in agricultural practices regarding AMR use on Irish farms, the macro level regulatory environment that governs access to AMR and identify multi-perspective institutional reform implications.

The candidate will receive advanced training in the methodology of the social sciences including statistical analysis and qualitative longitudinal data analysis along with project management, communication skills and approaches to the dissemination of research findings. 

Candidates with a strong interest in environmental studies, rural studies, agricultural studies, life-course research, qualitative longitudinal research, an MA, MSc or MPhil in Sociology, Social Research, Social Policy, and strong training in advanced social science methodologies, are particularly encouraged to apply. 

Standard duties of the post

·      Critical, systematic and analytical review of relevant literature the project.

·      Conducting empirical research using statistical analysis and a qualitative panel study.

·      Writing academic pieces (articles/dissertation chapters) in English.

·      Writing and submitting research papers for publication and contributing to joint projects or related submissions with the PhD supervisor (s).

·      Organising and attending meetings, workshops and conferences.

·      Disseminating academic work to specialised and general audiences.

·      4 hours of teaching per week during the statutory teaching term (facilitating undergraduate tutorials).

Person Specification


  • MA, MSc or MPhil in Sociology, Social Policy, Geography, Agricultural Studies, Rural studies, Environmental studies or cognate fields (thesis should be either defended or submitted).

Essential research skills

  • An analytical, independent and systematic approach to research.
  • Ability to adopt an interdisciplinary approach.
  • High-level training in advanced social science methodologies.

·      Familiarity with diverse data collection techniques (e.g., interviewing; questionnaire design).

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills using English language.
  • Good organisational skills and ability to engage in team work.

Other essential skills

  • Engage in public dissemination of the project results.

·      Motivation to publish in high-impact scientific journals. 

·      Willingness to contribute to the development of the project.

  • Contributing to the intellectual and academic community of TCD.
  • Contribute to the teaching programme of Sociology TCD.

Application Procedure

Application deadline: 14 August or until filled

Informal enquiries: contact Dr Elaine Moriarty (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, TCD; [Email Address Removed]).

Candidates should submit the following documentation via email to Dr Elaine Moriarty ([Email Address Removed]) and cc. Professor Trevor Hodkinson ([Email Address Removed])

A motivation letter clearly indicating how the applicant’s profile and skills fit the requirements of this PhD position (max. 2 pages);

A full curriculum vitae; 

Names, affiliation, and contact details of 2 referees (with their email addresses included);

One example (at least) of a written piece –expected in English– showing the analytical, writing, and empirical skills of the candidate in a social science discipline.  

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