Post Graduate Research

Through our long term research commitment to deliver innovation across strategically important industry sectors, Fera offer a range of PhD studentships to grow the specialist skills base required within the agrifood sector.

Post Graduate Research

Fera founded the Institute for Agri-Food and Innovation (IAFRI) with Newcastle University to house targeted post graduate research programmes. World-leading research activities at IAFRI made relevant by industry experts enables Fera to develop extensive new solutions, techniques, skills and best practices in agrifood and environment. Fera Science Ltd has an excellent and long-standing track record of supporting PhD studentships.

Working with our extensive network of academic partners, we have for many decades co-sponsored between 20-30 studentships a year.

Current Postgraduate Opportunities

PhD studentship in Natural and Environmental Science: Integrated forecasting for diseases of brassicas that affect multiple hosts

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid plus annual living expenses of £14,777 (full award).

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2018 for 3 years.

Application closing date

20 July 2018.


Interested in the prediction and management of crop diseases? This PhD project will investigate the dynamics of diseases of vegetable brassicas and oilseed rape, and use a combination of field samples and mathematical modelling to develop new and improved methods of disease forecasting.

The project is undertaken in collaboration with Fera Science Ltd (York), which is developing a suite of real-time models to predict diseases in oilseed rape (OSR) wheat and barley for the centre of Crop Health and Protection. The project therefore provides an excellent opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project with both academia and industry.

The overall aim is to develop integrated approaches to disease forecasting in brassicas. Currently, methods to forecast diseases common on both vegetable brassicas (VB) and OSR have been developed in isolation, but improved predictions should be possible if this fragmentation is avoided via integrated methods. It is also important to consider the spatial and temporal scales at which disease outbreaks occur, for example between neighbouring crops, and identify when disease first poses a risk, rather than attempt to cure epidemics.

Specific aims include:

Systematic literature review and meta-analysis of diseases that co-occur in OSR and VB to identify candidate diseases for more detailed further study Identify sites where both OSR and VB co-occur, and collect and analyse spore samples, supplemented by data and samples from CHAP monitoring stations Compare spore samples at different spatial scales, e.g. within large fields; between fields on the same farm, between farms, assess disease model performance and accuracy.


Agriculture, Horticulture and Development Board (AHDB). The student will be based at Fera.

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Roy Sanderson, School of Natural and Environmental Science

Dr Femke van den Berg, Fera Science Ltd, York

Dr Judith Turner, Fera Science Ltd, York

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent in biology or environmental science or a related subject. This award is available to UK/EU nationals only.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please follow the link below.

online postgraduate application system

IAFRI PhDs focus on three core research themes:

Functional foods

Diagnostics and decisions systems for agriculture

Risk management tools for the agri-food industry

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