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Research in the Department of Service Sector Management

The Department of Service Sector Management (DSSM) includes the subject groups of Hospitality, Tourism, Events, Food and Nutrition. The department's knowledge creation and exchange comprises a wide range of topics and applied research projects, using a variety of methodological designs. Many of these research interests relate to two interdisciplinary themes: Food, Consumers and Society and The Experience Economy.

Food, Consumers and Society

Within this theme, research is broadly concerned with consumer perceptions, decision-making and behaviour relating to a wide range of product markets and services, together with product innovation and development, packaging design, product marketing and branding, and well-being in society at regional, national and international levels.

More specifically, our research focuses on food, health and perceived risk with particular reference to food structure, chemistry, nutritional value, and food consumption in social, psychological, cultural, economic and environmental contexts. This research provides important insights into contemporary influences on consumer attitudes, choice and consumption. It also explores a range of relevant issues such as women's constraints on participation in: recreation and tourism; cultural and ethnic diversity; genetic modification of food; safety regulatory systems and societal trust.

It is also concerned with environmental sustainability, the slow movement including food and tourism, consumer cognition and emotion, and disordered consumption relating to impulsive and compulsive behaviour. Studies relating to this theme also include research in hospitality on wine and culinary innovation and on small business operations and management, particularly small restaurants focusing on customer needs and preferences, including improvements in food quality, service, value, choice and accessibility for sensory impaired consumers.

The Experience Economy

A broad range of research interests within the department are linked to both the experience economy and the related area of customer experience management, focusing on the design, delivery and development of consumer experiences in a range of leisure, recreation, events, hospitality and tourism contexts.

While research within this theme spans the breadth of the consumer experience process in various product markets, including a variety of service management issues, it is also concerned with the employee workplace experience and the associated functional management issues. Within event management our research interests relate to event experience creation through shared leadership, tacit and experiential knowledge, collaborative innovation, multisensorial design and storytelling.

Within the hospitality area, our consumer research focuses on space and facilities design and service innovation to enrich the customer experience, including the development of effective service failure recovery strategies. The employee experience research centres on employability and on measurement and performance management aspects of human resource management, emotional labour and well-being, deviance and toxic personalities.

Research within tourism focuses on destination policy and planning, including cultural heritage management, destination marketing and branding, and on consumer decision making, behaviour and experience particularly in relation to urban tourism, dark tourism and adventure tourism and recreation.

In order to deliver to these overarching research themes, we welcome PhD scholarship applications from the following areas, but will also consider alternative proposals:

  • Hospitality: Food, culture, experience and identity, hospitality design, space and facilities, wine and culinary innovation, revenue, sales and performance management, human resources and employability, pedagogy/education, service innovation, service experience, sustainability & CSR, entrepreneurship.

  • Tourism: Tourism policy, governance and sustainable development, destination marketing and branding, consumer behaviour and experience, adventure tourism, visitor attractions design and management, cultural heritage management

  • Events: Events and strategy, events volunteering, leadership in events, experiential event design, agricultural events, pedagogy/education, attendee experience

  • Food and Nutrition: Consumer food choice, attitudes and behaviour, the impact of diet on health and sports performance, sports nutrition, food, nutrition and health, food structure, chemistry, sensory science, consumer behaviour, food marketing

How to apply

Anyone can apply for a PhD scholarship. However you would need to meet the standard Programme application entry requirements (see below). All applicants wishing to be considered for a PhD scholarship need to submit by the closing date (12 noon on Monday 2nd March 2020) the following documents (see below) by email to
Please indicate clearly in the body of your email that you would like to be considered for a SBS PhD scholarship.

We require the following documents for your application:

  1. a fully completed Sheffield Hallam University application form.
  2. a detailed research proposal (4-6 sides of A4 in length). All submitted research proposals will be uploaded to Turnitin to assess their originality.
  3. a transcript of marks from your highest qualification (we require a dissertation mark of 60 or higher).
  4. a copy of your award certificate from your highest qualification.
  5. two references, both of which must be recent letters on headed notepaper or the reference form found within the University application form (one of which should ideally be from an academic source). Referees can submit their references electronically by scanning and emailing the original documents direct to us from their own email address, but these must be on headed notepaper or the official form.
  6. English Language proficiency evidence - Where English is not your first language, you must show evidence of English language ability to the following minimum level of proficiency. You must provide evidence of either a current IELTS score of 7.0 overall (with all component marks of 6.5 or higher and preferably Academic IELTS); or a current TOEFL test with an overall score of 100 internet based (with a minimum component score of 23 in listening and reading, 26 in writing and 22 in speaking) or SHU TESOL English Language qualification – final overall grade of A (with all components graded at B or higher) or a recognised equivalent testing system.  Please note that your test score must be current, i.e. within the last two years.

Funding amount

A generous and comprehensive package is offered. This funding is for 3 year full-time PhD study. Our SBS PhD Scholarship covers tuition which is equal to the Home/EU fee. This includes a stipend at Research Council UK levels (this is currently £15,009 for 2019/20) per annum plus Home/EU tuition fees (£4,330 in 2019/20). For international students, a top up tuition fee of approximately £8,200 per year is required.

Selection process

Successful applicants will be required to attend an interview where you will be asked to discuss your research proposal. Interview panel members will include the PhD Programme Leader, a prospective Director of Studies and a representative from the SBS Creating Knowledge Board. All applicants wishing to be considered for a PhD scholarship need to submit all their documents by e-mail on 12 noon on Monday 2nd March 2020 to Interview dates are provisionally scheduled for week commencing 20th April 2020.

Research Centre information

Please see the Sheffield Business School website for our particular areas of expertise and specific interests of staff.

Further details on University scholarships and Conditions of Award can be found here.

If you have any queries about full-time PhD Scholarships in SBS please contact:

Dr. Alisha Ali
PhD Programme Leader
Sheffield Business School
Sheffield Hallam University
Tel: 0114 225 4593

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