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The British food system is neither healthy, nor sustainable. Unhealthy diets are one of the leading risk factors for premature mortality in the UK, and the composition of national agricultural production is incompatible with production goals that would support a healthy and sustainable food system. 

This DPhil project will develop pathways towards a healthy and sustainable British food system as part of an interdisciplinary research project on transforming the British food system. The contributions of the DPhil project will be to:

  1. Compile and critically evaluate existing health and sustainability targets, including policy goals, that are affecting the British food system;
  2. Assess the gap between existing goals and current policies, and compile policy options for bridging that gap;
  3. Apply health and environmental modelling techniques to assess the effectiveness of national food and agricultural policies, including agricultural subsidy schemes and school food programmes;
  4. Interface with an interdisciplinary team working on food-related issues across Oxford. 


The successful candidate will gain experience in policy evaluation and assessments, and in health and food-system modelling techniques. The latter will include conducting environmental analyses using environmental footprints and agricultural models, and conducting burden-of-disease analyses using comparative risk assessments. 


Most of the work will be desk-based, but the project allows for interaction with national food-system actors, such as farmers, consumers, and processors, through the overarching research project. Training in data handling, and in conducting environmental and health analyses will be provided. Additional training, e.g. in statistics and other relevant topics, will be available through departmental courses.

Prospective candidate

Suitable candidates for this project could have a variety of backgrounds, but will have a strong interest in improving public health and environmental sustainability. They will be familiar with some health, environmental or food-system models, have experience in quantitative data analysis, and be comfortable with some amount of coding in relevant programming languages.