Deakin-Aston Cotutelle - Child feeding and snacks

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project in ‘child feeding and snacks' between Deakin University (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom).

Deakin Project Supervisor

Deakin Faculty


Melbourne Burwood Campus (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom)

Research topic

This is a doctoral cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom).

The successful PhD Student will be awarded a scholarship from Deakin University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Aston University. The PhD Student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Aston University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration of 4 years and scheduled to commence in the second half of 2023.

The PhD Student is anticipated to spend at least 6 months of the total period of the program at Aston University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

The research topic is: Advancing the evidence on feeding practices and their impact on child diets, particularly related to snack-times.

Project aim

Young children’s diets are important determinants of their health but are sub-optimal. The primary influence on young children’s diets is parents and home food environments, including parental feeding practices, i.e. how children are fed, not just what they are fed. Snacks are likely an opportunity in the day for improvements in intakes and feeding practices, but little is known about snack-time feeding practices, or about the acceptability and feasibility of modifying snack times for parents. This project is a unique opportunity to investigate this topic, working with expert supervisors at both Deakin and Aston Universities, and build international networks. There is opportunity to analyse comprehensive existing data and to collect novel data, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

The proposed PhD can include:

  • Analysis of Australian dataset/s examining whether feeding practices and/or family meals are associated with diet quality at different meal types (i.e. snacks vs dinner).
  • Analysis of UK dataset/s examining data on family meal environments or observations, scenario-based feeding practices, food insecurity, and/or predictors of feeding practices.
  • Leading data collection to explore parent perceptions of snacks as an opportunity for healthy food, healthy feeding practices, and family meals, and the feasibility of changing snack times.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Sunday 30 July 2023


This scholarship is supported by Deakin University, is available over 3 years and includes:

  • Stipend of $33,500 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
  • Full Tuition Fee Waiver for up to 4 years
  • Funding to support travel of PhD Student between Deakin University and Aston University.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Aston University, including English language proficiency requirements
  • be enrolling full-time
  • be able to physically locate to both Aston University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page and Aston’s research entry criteria page page for further information.

How to apply

Applicants should firstly contact Alison Spence via email at, to discuss the project. Please send through a CV and cover letter summarising your interest and skills for this project.

The successful student will have:

  • Nutrition and/or dietetics training to support detailed dietary analysis
  • Interest and basic skills in statistics, mathematics and/or analysis
  • Good written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Initiative, problem-solving, and self-management skills

The successful applicant will then be invited to lodge a formal HDR application to Deakin. The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Aston University via the Aston University application page 

Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Alison Spence:

Dr Alison Spence 
+61 3 9244 5481