Frequently Asked Questions

General Queries

Currently, the AgriFoRwArdS CDT is committed to recruiting five Cohorts of students; starting in September 2019, October 2020, October 2021, October 2022 and October 2023. You are welcome to apply for any of the remaining cohorts.

All of the studentships we offer provide full funding for a student whether they are classed as home or international, this includes;

  • Payment of UK tuition fees – Fees will be paid directly to the institution. International students’ fees within the AgriFoRwArdS CDT are charged at the UK level.
  • A Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of up to £6,000 – This covers travel and consumables to enable participation in external conferences and symposia throughout the studentship. Use of the RTSG is subject to supervisor approval.
  • A UKRI National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,258 for 2020/21) – This is intended for use to cover accommodation and subsistence costs through the studentship. This is paid directly to you, in monthly instalments.

Please note that due to funder restrictions, there is a limit to the number of funded opportunities we can offer to international students. Please check our website to see if we are still accepting applications from international students.

Research areas within the CDT include Mobile Autonomy; Manipulation and Soft Robotics; Sensing and Perception; Fleet Management; Human-Robot Collaboration; Robot Vision; Robot Learning; Robotic Mapping; Robot Task Planning; Robot Navigation; Swarm Robotics; Human-Robot Interaction; Systems Integration; Agri-Robotics; Food Manufacturing. You can find out more regarding the research scope of the CDT here.

Within the application form you will be asked to specify your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice institutions for where you would like to study your PhD. This order determines the order in which your application will be made available to the three partner institutions(University of Cambridge, University of East Anglia, and University of Lincoln). The university at which you will study your PhD will be decided during the recruitment process.

Places within the CDT are offered by the individual universities and therefore this is not something which can be changed at a later date.

Your MSc in Robotics and Autonomous Systems will be issued by the University of Lincoln Your PhD will be issued by your PhD host institution, for example, if you study your PhD at the University of East Anglia, your PhD will be awarded by the University of East Anglia. 

Please visit the Universities’ respective websites to find out more about the research conducted and the expertise available at each University.

University of Cambridge

University of East Anglia

University of Lincoln

Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventry (robotic manipulators, mobile robots, flexible manufacturing cells).

Teaching on the MSc course begins in October each year.

International Applicants

All three universities within the AgriFoRwArdS consortium have requirements for proficiency in English. You may be asked to provide proof of your English language proficiency, for example, an IELT score. To study the MSc you will need to meet the University of Lincoln’s requirements, more details of which can be found here. You will then need to meet the language requirements of your PhD host university. For more information on specific requirements please visit; University of Lincoln’s website here. University of Cambridge website here. University of East Anglia website here.

You will need to submit your language scores in order to enrol on the MSc and PhD programmes, therefore, we suggest completing the testing sooner rather than later.

If your transcripts are not in English, we will require a certified English translation be provided alongside the original.

International students who come to the UK to study full-time must apply for the student visa. More information about the process can be found on the University of Lincoln website.

The Programme

The CDT organises and facilitates various activities in addition to the MSc and PhD programmes. Some examples of the types of activities are;

  • Attendance, and opportunities to present, at conferences/workshops
  • Opportunities to attend industry partner sites
  • Robotics specific workshops on campus
  • Responsible Research and Innovation workshops
  • Introduction to Agricultural Systems training

The AgriFoRwArdS CDT encompasses the cross-disciplinary expertise required to tackle real-world challenges in the fast-growing field of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), especially for the agri-food industry. A major part of the CDT's training programme is delivered through the MSc Robotics and Autonomous Systems hosted by the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln. The MSc programme has a strong focus on artificial intelligence, software development, and systems integration to enable autonomous operation of robotic systems. AgriFoRwArdS PhD topics may naturally involve other areas of robotic engineering and mechatronics, including both hardware and software development.

It is possible to study part time within the CDT, however this is decided on a case by case basis. If you wish to study part time please email us at to discuss further.

The first year of the programme is based at the University of Lincoln. The majority of studying takes place at the Brayford Campus in the heart of Lincoln, while some activities take place at the Riseholme Campus (a working farm with specialist research facilities, located 4 miles north of Lincoln), and also at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) at Holbeach, Lincolnshire. Transport from the Brayford campus to the Riseholme campus and NCFM will be provided by the CDT. The PhD will be based at either the University of Cambridge, the University of East Anglia, or the University of Lincoln. There will be training activities at all three universities throughout the programme.

The CDT programme includes an integrated MSc in Robotics and Autonomous Systems year, which all students must complete. It is not possible for students to register for the PhD years only within the AgriFoRwArdS CDT. Applicants wishing to begin study at PhD level should refer to the individual institution’s pages for details of direct entry.

The CDT works with many partners, including large multinational companies, small start-ups, national research labs and public sector bodies. You will have opportunity to meet these partners at CDT events, and through your research.

As well as completing  the MSc programme in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, followed by PhD research at one of the partner universities, students will also participate in an ongoing, integrated associated training programme.

The programme will enable students to specialise between four possible career routes: (i) engineer, (ii) executive, (iii) entrepreneur and (iv) academic researcher, with training courses tailored to each of these directions. Students will be given the opportunity to receive training within all for career routes.

The engineer and executive career paths tend to be associated with industry; entrepreneur is for people interested in starting a business or working in a small enterprise;  Professors and researchers would specialise in the academic route.

All students will also receive ongoing training in software engineering and systems development for agri-food robotics.


You are welcome to contact us at any point during the application process by email to

Each year our recruitment is broken down into rounds. Each recruitment round runs consecutively, for example;

Round 1 will run from 1st October to 30th November,

Round 2 will run 1st December to 31st January, etc.

Find out the specific dates relating to this year here.

Upon submission of your application, you will receive an email detailing the dates when you can expect to hear from us.

You will be unable to make amendments to your application once the recruitment round has closed. Applications are immediately reviewed following the closing date. However, should you be unsuccessful, we welcome reapplication during a subsequent round.

Within the application form you will be asked to specify your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice institutions for where you would like to study your PhD. This order determines the order in which your application will be made available to the partner institutions once the recruitment round has closed. Upon submission of your application, you will receive an email detailing the dates when you can expect to hear from us.

Once you submit your application via our online application form you will receive an email confirmation. Please ensure you check your spam folder. If you do not receive this confirmation email please email to check receipt of your application.

There is no limit to the number of applications we can receive during each round. However, should you submit multiple applications, only your most recent application will be considered.

If you have any troubles with the online application form please do get in touch with us at

You will be asked to provide the name and contact details of your referees on your application form. However, we will only contact these referees if you are offered an interview. Unless we contact you directly there is no need for you to contact your referees directly as we will do this on your behalf.

If there is an issue with the anonymisation of your application, you will be contacted directly by us. We will advise you whether you need to submit a new application. Generally, if the application form itself is anonymised correctly, we will ask you to resend any incorrectly anonymised documents by return email. If you have not correctly anonymised the application form, you will be required to submit a new application.

You will be contacted, once the recruitment round has closed, with the dates by which you can expect to hear from us throughout the shortlisting process. The full process usually takes approximately three months. You will receive communication, throughout this period, to update you on the status of your application.

The University of Lincoln will pair you with a supervisor during the MSc year of your studies, however the Universities of Cambridge and East Anglia will pair you with a supervisor during the selection process. We welcome you to contact supervisors prior to completing your application, however this is not a pre-requisite. There is space on the application form for you to identify specific AgriFoRwArdS supervisors that you would like to work with.

We will only contact your referees if you are offered an interview. Unless we contact you directly there is no need for you to contact your referees directly as we will do this on your behalf.

If you are still studying your degree you can still apply to the CDT, simply provide results for any modules you have completed so far.