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PhD Studentship - An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understand Sheep Farmers Decision-making for Management of Sheep Scab

University of Nottingham

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Nottingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 2nd July 2019
Closes: 2nd October 2019

Principal supervisor: Dr. Jasmeet Kaler

Other supervisors: Dr. Fiona Lovatt

Project description:

This opportunity is based within Ruminant Population Health group at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science which conducts cutting-edge research into the health and welfare of UK sheep and cattle and has stakeholder decision making as one of its key research themes.

The PhD is part of highly collaborative multi-partner project (Moredun, Bristol, Glasgow and Nottingham) which brings together the UK’s leading experts on sheep scab from across industry and academia. This multidisciplinary project aims to address the challenge of sheep scab management via further understanding epidemiology of scab, optimisation of tools for diagnosis and understanding farmer behaviour and attitudes towards scab management.

Scab is caused by infestation with the ectoparasitic mite, Psoroptes ovis and is highly contagious, resulting in intense pruritus and represents a major welfare and economic concern for the livestock industry. Despite statutory and voluntary control programmes, scab control has met with limited success. Scab has historically had a negative stigma resulting in significant levels of under-reporting by farmers. Combining recent advances in behaviour and implementation science and tools and frameworks from sociology, psychology and behavioural economics, this PhD will provide further understanding of farmers beliefs, perception of risks and the trade-offs they make in their decision making for scab control.  We are particularly interested in how habits, norms and perception of risk influence farmers behaviours related to scab management and how they vary among upland and lowland farmers.

We will collect data from farmers via interviews, focus groups and discrete choice survey to explore the process of decision making (using frameworks from sociology, psychology and economics) for scab control Data will be analysed using qualitative and quantitative methods (choice modelling). Results of this PhD will be combined with scab transmission models developed by partners in the consortium to gain insight into real life dynamics and design effective control strategies for scab.  

Further information and Application

This PhD is interdisciplinary in nature and as such would suit applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, including (but not limited to) candidates with 2.1 undergraduate degrees in Veterinary Science or Animal Science or Social Sciences or Psychology. MSc’s in a relevant subject would be an advantage.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the principal supervisor Dr Jasmeet Kaler (;

Candidates should apply online and include a CV. When completing the online application form, please ensure that you state that you are applying for a postgraduate position within the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

Interview Date: July/Aug 2019

Start Date:

September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. This is a 3 year studentship funded by VMD. The position will receive a tax free stipend per annum at the national RCUK rate (for 2018/19, is £14,777).

Closing date:

The position will be filled when suitable candidates have been identified. Early application encouraged.

Eligibility for Funding

Only EU/UK resident

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