Funded PhD Opportunity Role of speciality rural markets in food/gourmet tourism experience: the case of Northern Ireland

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Business and Management Studies


This project focuses around two key aspects, food tourism and the development of food-related networks.  With regard to the first aspect, food tourism has emerged as an integral niche form of tourism (Boyd, 2016a).  It has emerged over the years from being a small aspect of both rural and urban tourism, but with people’s interest growing of travel that is food-related, it has evolved into a niche form of tourism.  Food tourism has been subdivided into a number of sub types to include, culinary, cuisine and gourmet tourism (Hall and Sharples, 2008); one moves up the scale on the basis that the importance of a special interest in food as a travel motivation shifts from being a subsidiary interest to that of primary interest.  With regard to the latter, gourmet tourism in a rural setting involves primary motive travel to food events, festivals and markets.  There is also a dimension of ‘slow food’ to some of this product development and offer (Boyd, 2016b).

This project proposes to examine the role that food/gourmet tourism can play in the development of rural tourism product development for Northern Ireland.  At present tourism product development is focused around events, and key attractions that are either associated with urban and coastal spaces.  The opportunities within a rural context have received less attention and research is merited.

The second aspect is that of food-related network product development.  Networks and their formation are well established aspects within tourism academe.  Networks have been noted for their importance of knowledge transfer, building collaborative affiliation, for partnership and creating interdependence within broader systems (Scott, Baggio, and Cooper, 2008; Baggio and Cooper, 2010).  Understanding networks involves awareness of all entities involved in their makeup. Central to any network are the individual businesses or in this context small and medium-sized tourism enterprises.  According to Henry and McElwee (2014), there is little difference between a rural and non-rural enterprise in terms of structure.  Nor is there a specific category, for, nor definition of, a rural entrepreneur.  Where difference is noted is in terms of the types of rural tourism enterprises that exist.  Saxena (2016) argues these are either exogenous or endogenous; the former are external to the community in which they occur, have reliance on markets that are extra-local.  Examples include festivals, food events, and farmers and food speciality markets.  In contrast, the latter are internal to community in which they are showcased, rely on local ingenuity of entrepreneurs and are most often associated with creative pursuits such as arts and crafts.  Rural ‘speciality’ markets (food and craft combined) allows for both types of rural tourism enterprise to work effectively together to showcase rural products and services.

As such, this project further seeks to study the make-up of speciality rural markets across Northern Ireland as the vehicle against which to promote rural foods/gourmet tourism.  It also examines these markets as a key element toward forming wider food and speciality networks to showcase Northern Ireland’s rural products to visitors.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
12 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Professor Stephen Boyd

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #238389 when applying for this PhD opportunity