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PhD Studentship: How does agricultural crime affect the psychological health of farmers: a longitudinal exploration of the impact of victimisation on UK farmers

Research Office

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Salary:  As per advert
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed Term - 36 Months - Up to 36 months
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Sunday 30 April 2023
Reference:  RD-PHD-01-KS-DVC-MH

Project Title:  How does agricultural crime affect the psychological health of farmers: a longitudinal exploration of the impact of victimisation on UK farmers

Director of Studies: Dr Kreseda Smith

36 month funded studentship.

The expected start date for the studentship will be the beginning of October 2023. The student will be registered for a PhD at Harper Adams University and based at Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire, UK. The studentship will cover the current Home tuition fee rate plus a yearly stipend set at the UKRI figure – currently £17,668 per year (2022/23 academic year) with an expected small increase from September 2023. 

International applicants would need to be able to fund the difference between Home and Overseas fees which will be £10,890 for the 2023/24 academic year with the first year’s fee’s being paid in full before Visa documentation can be issued. 

Project Description: 

Agricultural crime is a fact of life for British farmers. While no official figures exist for this type of crime, key rural stakeholders such as NFU Mutual publish regular indicators of the level of the problem. However, these figures, and much of the extant academic research focus almost exclusively on the financial impact of agricultural crime to the exclusion of the impact it has on farmer mental health. Farmers in Britain face a range of stressors – events that negatively affect wellbeing – that impact on their ability to manage their business successfully. Extant research has identified stressors such as weather, finance, regulation, staffing and time pressures1,2. However, to date, little research has examined how agricultural crime impacts the mental health of farmers beyond the work conducted by the DoS3,4

This project will extend that research by providing an in-depth, longitudinal exploration of the lived experiences of farmers who have been victims of crime. The way that crime-related stress interacts with other farmer stressors requires more exploration to understand the impact it has on farmers, and what factors create a heightened stress response either alone or in conjunction with other stressors. With the impact of Brexit still being understood in relation to the UK’s food security, it is essential that the farming community are better supported to ensure they are able to manage their own mental health, and keep their own ontological security in balance. Decisions made under stress are often ineffective, and so the understanding and management of farmer mental health is essential to ensure farmer resilience.

Person Specification: 

Candidates will normally be expected to hold an undergraduate degree with a 1st or a 2.1 in an appropriate subject area (e.g. criminology, psychology, or a related social science subject area). For those who hold a 2.2 at undergraduate level, an additional Masters degree in a relevant field and/or three years postgraduate experience would be required. Applicants should have experience of both qualitative and quantitative research skills within a social science area.


1. Walker et al. (1986) Psych. Rep 59:427-430; 2. Kearney et al. (2014) North Caroline Medical Journal 75: 384-392; 3. Smith (2020) J Rur Stud 80: 522-531; 4. Smith (2022) Int J Rur Crim 6: 197-222.

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Harper Adams University is one of the premier UK Higher Education institutions focused on the land-based and food supply chain sector. With around 2,800 undergraduate students, plus those completing postgraduate, research and CPD programmes, Harper Adams University is the UK's largest single provider of higher education for these subjects.  Programmes fall into eleven broad subject areas – but none operate in isolation. Community and collaboration are key at Harper Adams, meaning everyone, including staff, students and industry partners, benefits from a close network of knowledge and opportunity exchange. Situated in Shropshire, the campus and the surrounding area provide an excellent working and living environment for staff and students alike.

Harper Adams is consistently positioned highly in a range of national ratings, performance measures and league tables. The University has been the highest performing modern university in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for the last four years, climbing to 17th place in the overall league table. In the 2020 guide Harper Adams was named Modern University of the Year and runner-up University of the Year. In the 2019 Whatuni? Student Choice Awards, based on student reviews, Harper Adams won the Student Support category for the fifth time – the only university to have taken the title since the awards began - and won the category for best job prospects for a fourth year running. In the 2020 QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry published in March 2020, Harper Adams was ranked first in the UK for academic reputation and second in the world for its reputation with employers.

Applied research is at the heart of the university’s activity, with the work of a thriving academic community underpinning both teaching and work with the industries allied to Harper. The 2014 Government Research Excellence Framework rated all of the university’s research as “of international quality”, and more than half was deemed “world leading” or “internationally excellent”.



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