PhD Programme


Royal Agricultural University Campus


3 Years (full time/part time)

Academic Year

Commences either 30 September 2024 or 27 January 2025

With a range of expertise in applied research in sustainable agriculture, food chain security, agribusiness, agronomy, entrepreneurship, rural enterprise, soil science, equine science and urban regeneration and development, the RAU provides a stimulating environment for individuals wanting to further their academic and professional careers thorough doctoral study.

Course overview

The RAU is committed to environmental, economic and social sustainability, and so all our projects explore issues that will help farmers, horse owners, and rural businesses apply innovative techniques and models to improve output, economic viability, health, and welfare while caring for the environment.

Why study at the RAU?                                

  • Excellent job prospects for PhD candidates in both industry and academia
  • Integrated structured training on research methodologies, statistics, presentation skills, and academic writing
  • Range of on-farm facilities and unique established trial-plot areas to support your work
  • Strong research collaborations with the University of Nottingham, Rothamsted Research, and University College Dublin allowing you access to some state-of-the-art laboratory facilities
  • Our research degrees are validated by the University of Gloucestershire giving you access to a large and subject-diverse postgraduate network

Current research areas include:

Agronomy and sustainable agriculture         

  • Wheat-bean intercropping and sustainable production systems
  • Environmental challenges and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Developing sustainable pest control methods

Soil science

  • Understanding management influences on soil organic matter
  • Nutrient cycling in soil and potential for carbon sequestration

Equine science                                              

  • Behavioural probes of brain function in horses
  • Evaluating energy balance in competition horses
  • Forage hygiene and respiratory health in stabled horses

Urban regeneration                                      

  • Smart city modelling
  • International competitiveness of Chinese construction firms
  • UAE residential valuation systems audit investigation and future pathways

The University is interested in receiving applications from suitably qualified, motivated, and self-financing students wishing to undertake research at either Master of Science by Research (MScR) or Doctoral (PhD) level.

Course content

The full-time PhD is a three year research project, submitted as a thesis and examined as a viva voce. You can enter the programme in either September or January. Full-time – minimum 36 months / maximum 48 months. Part-time minimum 48 months / maximum 72 months

    Please note due to visa restrictions, part-time study is not available to international students on a Tier 4 visa.

    Research students receive training in formulating research enquiries, critical reading, scientific writing, research methodology, statistics (e.g. Genstat, SPSS, NVivo), and presentation skills. As part of the on-going development programme all post graduate students contribute to internal seminars and present their work at conferences.

    There are no formal timetabled sessions for research degrees, which allows students to fulfil other commitments they may have, such as work, family and interests. 

    Disclaimer information

    The University has established various rules and regulations that you must agree to and follow if you accept an offer to study with us. View our full disclaimer notice.



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    Entry requirements

    The standard minimum entry requirement is a Master's degree or an equivalent academic qualification from a comparable international institution. Mature candidates with significant relevant work experience and lower academic qualifications may also be considered for entry, following personal interview.

    International students will also need to achieve IELTS Academic or equivalent at the appropriate level for your programme of study. English language requirements for international students.

    For students whose first language is not English, the University will accept the International English Language Test (IELTS) with a minimum overall score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in Writing and no less than 5.5 in all elements.

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    All experiment costs and supervisor travel costs to be paid by self-funding students in addition to annual fees. 

    2024-25 Applicants

    For the academic year 2024-2025 the tuition fees for this course are: 

      UK Overseas/EU
    Full-time £5,500 per year (minimum registration of 3 years) £18,050 per year (minimum registration of 3 years)
    Part-time £2,750 per year (minimum registration of 6 years) N/A

    Please note: Part-time students from non-UK countries are currently unable to enrol on research degrees due to visa regulations. 

    Tuition fees may be subject to an inflationary increase each year as set out in our Access and Participation Plan 2019/20.

    For full details, please visit the fees and funding webpage.

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