a vine and grapes

Exploring Novel Plant Defence Stimulators to Mitigate the Phasing-Out of Copper in the UK Viticulture Industry (CU-Out)

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary, tuition fees and additional allowances

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023 (international), 31 August 2023 (UK)

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Julia Wright

Project details

This is a co-tutelle PhD between Coventry University and the University of Santa Catarina State (UDESC), Brazil, leading to a dual-award.  The first year of the research will take place at UDESC Brazil, with the second and third years at Coventry University UK.

As climate change enables improved growing conditions, the UK viticulture industry (for table grapes, juice and wine) is predicted to double.  In parallel, contentious horticultural inputs are being eliminated, including Copper (Cu) which is used to control fungal mildew.  This research aims to advance the knowledge and application of Plant Defence Stimulators (PDS) in UK vineyard conditions for the elimination of copper. Drawing on Salutogenic Systems theory, it takes a Participatory Action Research approach to evaluate the international state-of-the-art of research into PDS for vineyard Copper reduction and identify the most promising for the UK context, and to assess the application of PDS through participatory vineyard trials under field conditions in southern England. Research into PDS for vineyard production is more advanced in Brazil where it is applied using the principles of homeopathy, and learning gained from the period of study in Brazil will contribute to both academic knowledge and more sustainable agricultural practice in the UK. The study’s importance is its contribution to moving forward from the reductionist approach to pest and disease control in farming systems and of the challenges of applying a more holistic tool on commercial farms.


Tuition fees, bursary (£18,622 p/a) and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. 

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

For further details please visit:  https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/making-an-application/research-entry-criteria/

Additional requirements

Basic proficiency in Portuguese is an asset.

How to apply

All applications require a covering letter and a 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Julia Wright.

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