Fully funded PhD studentship in School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences

Nottingham Trent University

Supporting Research Excellence, Nurturing Research Talent

As part of our continued pledge to invest in research excellence, we are delighted to offer an additional fully funded PhD studentship for 2016-17 entry. The studentship will be for the project “Developing a Sustainability Assessment Toolkit for Abaca (Musa textilis) Plantation Agriculture” which will be implemented through a collaboration between NTU and an industry partner.

Project Description

Abaca (Musa textilis), also known as ‘Manila hemp’, is an agriculturally and commercially important plant grown primarily for the extraction of a hard fibre that has widespread usage, including the manufacturing of teabags, banknotes, decorative papers, bags, carpets, clothing, furniture, ship's lines, fishing nets, hats, hammocks, matting, cordage, ropes, and canvas, to name a few. The commercial importance of abaca has been growing worldwide as it is increasingly being used as an alternative to petroleum-based synthetic fibres, which have negative environmental impacts.

The abaca fibre industry in Central America is dominated primarily by companies or co-operatives using plantation-type agricultural systems. However, this is not the case in South-East (SE) Asia, from where most of the world’s abaca fibre is sourced. In this region, there are over 50,000 farmers growing abaca primarily on smallholder systems and abaca plantations are only just beginning to appear. It is crucial for these companies and farmers to ensure that their operations are carried out in a sustainable manner. Compliance with sustainability standards is a pre-requisite for product certification, which is increasingly becoming vital for the competitiveness and market access of the companies who use the abaca. Moreover, a failure to fulfil its sustainability obligations can affect the public image of a company and, thereby, create risks of local opposition and resistance to its plantation activities – a trend noted worldwide.

The aim of this proposed PhD project will be to develop a sustainability assessment protocol or toolkit for abaca plantation agriculture. The research team will apply a systems approach, drawing on sustainability science and socio-ecological systems theories, and employ bottom-up, participatory, and multi-stakeholder processes in the development of the protocol. Data for this project will come from Indonesia through a collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and an industry partner.


This studentship competition is open to applicants who wish to study for a PhD on a full-time basis only. The studentship will pay UK/EU fees (currently set at £4121 for 2016/17 and are revised annually) and provide a maintenance stipend linked to the RCUK rate (this is revised annually and is currently £14,296 for academic year 2016/17) for up to three years*. The studentship will be expected to commence on 1st April 2017.

How to Apply

For further details, please see the web site here:


Here you will be able to download an Application Form, eligibility & entry requirements, notes for completion and guidance, and further details about the School.

The closing date for receipt of completed application forms is 5pm (UK time) on 19 December 2016. This deadline will be strictly adhered to.

Application by CV only or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Interviews will be held during week commencing 9 January 2017.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Doctoral School at doctoralschool@ntu.ac.uk if you have any further queries.

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Midlands of England