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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Fully funded PhD studentship: call for applications

Published: 13 June 2011

Sponsored by: the Organix Foundation; Geography and Environment, University of Southampton; and the School of Medicine, University of Southampton

Against the backdrop of concerns about obesity and other diet-related threats to public health, the proposed project seeks to understand how parents in the UK decide what to feed their older infants (6-12 mos) and young children (13-24 mos). This fully-funded PhD studentship will draw together perspectives from both public health nutrition and social science; including how information on how nutrition is received as well as the economic, emotional, cultural and political investments that are bound up with purchasing, preparing and serving food. The project will take a mixed-method approach, drawing on focus-groups, surveys and in-depth interviews with policy-makers, healthcare practitioners, and parents. The proposal will be developed collaboratively between the student and supervisors, with the larger framing questions being: what factors shape feeding decisions (e.g., nutritional value, food quality/safety, convenience, cost, cultural factors, work); how feeding decisions vary by class, race and other kinds of social difference; how decisions vary spatially; patterns of making vs. buying prepared foods; how parents receive information and advice on what to feed older infants and young children; what parents believe to be ‘good food’ for older infants and young children, and how that information relates to actual feeding practices.

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with the Organix Foundation and will be jointly supervised by Dr Kate Boyer, Lecturer in Human Geography (Geography and Environment) and Dr Penelope Nestel (Public health Nutritionist, School of Medicine).

The project will be based in Geography and the Environment and will contribute toward a PhD in Human Geography. At the start of the research the student will complete a learning needs analysis with the supervisors, and will record and review their learning goals each year. Training is provided for research methods and data analysis, together with a programme of transferable skills training and career development in the second and third year. There is also a rolling programme of seminars and graduate student conferences within each School in which the student will be expected to participate.

Ideally applicants should possess both a good undergraduate degree (2.1 or above) and a Master’s degree a related social science or health discipline (such as Human Geography or Public Health Nutrition). The studentship is open to British and EU nationals only. To be eligible for the full award, EU nationals must have resided in the UK for a period of three years immediately preceding the start of the award. EU nationals who have not resided in the UK for this period may still be eligible for a ‘fees only’ award so long as they have resided in the EU for a similar period.
Enquiries can be made to either Dr Kate Boyer ( or Dr Penny Nestel (

Closing date for applications: 15 July 2011.
Please contact Mrs. Julie Drewitt ( for details on how to apply.

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