Four PhD positions in and Environmental/Sustainability/Agricultural Economics



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Phd candidate

A research team at the National University of Ireland, Galway are developing a programme of research to understand processes to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of food production and consumption, and construction. The research programme funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Teagasc, national agriculture and food development agency. 

The topics and funders are as follows

  1. EPA funded Green Procurement project (3 years).
  2. DAFM funded sustainable food consumption (4 years).
  3. Teagasc Walsh Scholarship funded Economics of Organic Food Production (4 year).
  4. Teagasc Walsh Scholarship funded Innovation System Study of Organic Food Production (4 year)

PhD 1 - Opps4GPP – Green Public Procurement

The main purpose of this project is to identify and examine opportunities for green public procurement (GPP) in Ireland, quantify the associated costs and benefits, and disseminate findings to relevant public bodies and key stakeholders. The project is primarily focused on GPP in relation to public building projects. The project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The project will look at systems such as value chains and innovation systems that enable sustainable construction processes. Although no pre-requirements exist, the student will learn and develop system analysis techniques such as innovation system assessment, life-cycle assessment and input-output analysis. The project will work closely with a team of engineers and with industry partners and would suit someone with an inter-disciplinary interest.


PhD 2 - Protein-I – Sustainable Food Consumption

The need to develop new value chains that support our ambitions for a more sustainable, bio-based and circular economy, as recommended in the Irish FoodWise 2025 and EU Farm to Fork strategies, is the driver for this study. The successful candidate will join members of a large, all-island, collaborative project, known as Protein-I, which will identify new opportunities for plant-based value chains to support diversification of plant protein production and intake. (Protein crops to be studied will include legumes and cereals (for human consumption)). The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland. This work will also feed into the WHO programme on nutrition co-benefits of health as part of their Economies of Well-being strategy. The project will develop an analytical framework to undertake an economic-environmental-spatial impact assessment of new consumption practices and production techniques.

PhD 3 - Modelling the Sustainability Impact of Alternative Low Input and Organic Beef Production Systems

Traditionally, farm level analytical approaches have focused on capturing the physical performance of well-established systems of production while less attention has been given to alternative production technologies and agroecological approaches. Given the strategic direction of agricultural policy and emphasis on sustainable transformation of food systems, research evidence is required on the financial and environmental performance of alternative agroecological production methods including organic and low input production systems. This project will develop a bio-economic model integrating  farm-level analysis of the  financial and environmental (carbon footprint) performance of a range of alternative organic beef production scenarios, including an analysis of any potential trade-offs that may be generated between mitigating emissions on one hand and increasing farm profitability on other. The successful PhD candidate will join an international, interdisciplinary research team in Teagasc, NUIG and their partner institutions to develop the organic specification of the well-established Grange Beef Systems Model (GBSM).


PhD 4 - An Agricultural Innovation Ecosystems Approach to Support Sustainable Food Systems Transformation

The UN's food systems approach is defined as one which delivers food security and nutrition to all in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. Recognition of agriculture's multiple attributes is reflected within the EU ‘Farm to Fork’ and national (Irish) ‘Food Vision 2030’ strategies, which look to enshrine the three principles of sustainability within the next EU CAP programme while emphasising, agroecological approaches, input reduction, value added creation and the promotion of organic farming. Despite opportunities for growth, there is limited research evidence on the factors affecting organic adoption and food systems transformation from a wider value chain perspective. This research proposes to identify those sustainable transition pathway challenges through an innovation systems analysis of the institutional constraints to innovation in the organic value chain. Exploring how innovation currently occurs within niche organic sectors and comparing it to conventional regime across a number of international case studies will identify the necessary structural changes and policy supports required to promote development of the organic sector. Emerging Innovation Ecosystems thinking will be applied to investigate systemic policy instruments and recommendations to support the design and development of multi-actor, organic innovation niches. The successful PhD candidate will join an international, research team in Teagasc, NUIG and their partner institutions to undertake a comparative international case study of the challenges to sustainable transition of agriculture in Ireland, New Zealand and Denmark.


Essential Criteria:

  • First or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent international degree) in Economics, Business, Geography, Social Science, Agricultural Science, Engineering or related fields.
  • The candidate must have high analytical, interpersonal and organisational skills.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must show evidence of English proficiency.


Desirable Criteria:

  • A Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline is desirable.

Candidates should have excellent communication and organizational skills; be highly motivated and passionate about developing new research; and have strong documentation, oral and interpersonal skills.



The scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum, which includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum and a flat rate stipend of €18,000. The Protein-I role is tenable for 4 years while the Opps4GPP is tenable for 3 years. International students are eligible for the funding but will need to have their own financial support to cover the extra tuition fees chargeable to non-EU students. 


Continuing Professional Development/Training

Researchers at NUI Galway are encouraged to avail of a range of training and development opportunities designed to support their personal career development plans.  

Further information on research and working at NUI Galway is available on Research at NUI Galway. For information on moving to Ireland please see

Informal enquiries about this post may be made to Professor Cathal O’Donoghue (, Prof Stephen Hynes  (, Dr Cathal Geoghegan ( or Dr Kevin Kilcline (


To Apply  

Applications to include a covering letter, CV, and the contact details of two referees should be sent, via e-mail (in Word or PDF only) to

Please put which PhD scholarship you are applying for in subject line of e-mail application.

The application remains open until the position is filled.

National University of Ireland, Galway is an equal opportunities employer. All positions are recruited in line with Open, Transparent, Merit (OTM) and Competency based recruitment.

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Phd candidate

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