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Carnegie School of Sport Funded PhD Studentships

The Carnegie School of Sport is offering several fully funded PhD studentships. Each studentship provides a bursary of £14,777 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) and UK/EU Fees paid for a period of three years. It is a requirement that the successful applicants will be based full-time at our Headingley Campus or as otherwise directed when required.

The outstanding quality of our research was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, where we ranked 2nd nationally when accounting for both research quality and the number of contributing staff (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism). The School delivers international research excellence through its research centres and strategic research areas. The interdisciplinary and applied nature of much of our research means that students work on challenging problems and have extensive opportunities to develop new and valuable skills.  

We are seeking highly motivated and enthusiastic students who will fully engage in the dynamic and vibrant research environment offered by the Carnegie School of Sport. We have a number of research projects for potential candidates to apply to; each project has a named contact to discuss any application for their specific project. Later in this page is a link to the application form and details on how to apply. It also shows the contact details to our University Graduate School, should you have any questions about the application process.

Applications should be submitted to one of the research projects listed by following the instructions given in the section ‘How to Apply’.

The closing date for applications is Midnight on 20th May 2018.  

Interviews will be held at our Headingley Campus on 29th June 2018 for projects 1 and 2.
Interviews will be held at our Headingley Campus on 25th and 26th June 2018 for project 3 to 14.

General enquiries should be directed to Samantha Sherman, Carnegie School of Sport Office S.Sherman@leedsbeckett.ac.uk 

Plus Icon Research Project Information

Applications should be submitted to one of the research projects listed below by following the instructions given in the section ‘How to Apply’.


1. Sustaining programme impacts into life beyond military service

The 10-year on-going investment of £27m from The Royal British Legion (TRBL) supports the BattleBack (BB) programme. Outcomes from this research have been so compelling that BB attendance is now mandatory for all wounded, injured or sick service personnel. This PhD will explore how course content, delivery and experiences influence life beyond the military and how the positive impacts of course provision can reach further, and for longer, into the lives of military veterans.

Contact: Professor Jim McKenna

Telephone: 0113 81 27483

Email: J.McKenna@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


2. Programme inputs and outcomes in underactive low SES communities

Sport England recently announced ~£120m investment to address physical activity (PA) in low SES communities. This research programme will investigate approaches to whole system planning for community-wide behaviour change, to build on existing whole systems work and other community-wide intervention successes. The PhD will explore the transfer, refinement and implementation of innovative planning frameworks, drawn from other successful – but not PA-based - community-wide interventions. These approaches will be expected to alter the life trajectories of residents of underserved and low-active communities.

Contact: Professor Jim McKenna

Telephone: 0113 81 27483

Email: J.McKenna@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


3. Performance and development characteristics of elite youth female soccer players

Research into the performance and development characteristics of elite youth male soccer players is vast, although comparatively limited information is available for female soccer players. Regional Talent Centres (RTCs) operate across England to facilitate and maximise the development of female soccer players. An evaluation of current performance and development characteristics has yet to take place, which once complete provides an evidence base for all stakeholders working with this cohort. As such the aim of this research project is to evaluate match demands, training loads and physical development trajectories in U10-U16 elite youth female soccer players.

Contact: Dr Stacey Emmonds

Telephone: 0113 81 23274

Email: S.Emmonds@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


4. The value and impact of a gender diverse UK sport coaching workforce

This PhD focuses on the worth and effect of having greater gender diversity in sport coaching. The research will explore what is the impact of having a gender diverse coaching workforce on, but not limited to, organisational decision making and performance, participants, and the coaches themselves. It will also interrogate what are the commitments and values ascribed to diversity from the perspectives of organisations. There is the opportunity to draw on multidisciplinary approaches within this work. The research will build on existing research in the School around improving gender equity within sport coaching.

Contact: Dr Leanne Norman

Telephone: 0113 81 23533

Email: L.J.Norman@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


5. Understanding and evaluating the effectiveness of sport coaching development activities in the performance foundation stage

This research will seek to understand and evaluate the effectiveness of UK Coaching’s ‘Performance Foundation Coach Support’ (PFCS) programme.UK Coaching are the national lead agency for sport coaching and coach development in the UK. The PFCS programme provides a unique package of coach development support, including 1:1 support, to coaches working in the ‘performance foundation’ stage, just below UK Sport’s ‘Podium Programmes’.The programme is new and will work with around 150 coaches, across 10-15 sports, over the three 18-month cohorts. The research will utilise a ‘realist evaluation’ methodology (e.g. Pawson and Tilley, 1997; North, 2016). This approach attempts to explore the complex interplay of mechanisms that determine and influence how and why a programme ‘works’ or otherwise.

Contact: Dr Julian North

Telephone: 0113 81 26244

Email: J.North@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


6. Anti-doping education for coaches: A multi-stakeholder investigation

Education is a mandatory component of anti-doping programmes for coaches (World Anti-Doping Agency, 2015). Yet, there is an absence of evidence on the development and evaluation of coach-led anti-doping. This is problematic as it limits the delivery of evidence-informed policy and practice. Therefore, this programme of research will critically examine the provision of anti-doping education for coaches in the UK. Drawing upon multiple stakeholder perspectives (e.g., coaches, anti-doping educators, coach educators) this PhD will explore the concept of anti-doping literacy (e.g., having the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage with anti-doping services), and gather examples of better practice in the field.

Contact: Dr Laurie Patterson

Telephone: 0113 81 24007

Email: L.Patterson@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


7. The development of the rugby league athletic development framework

The physical qualities of rugby league players have received significant attention given the demands of the sport (e.g., Till, Scantlebury & Jones, 2017; Sports Med, 47(11):2171-2186). The trainability of these physical qualities to understand the differences between talent identification and development has not been quantified (Till et al., 2017; JSCR, 31(8):2110-2118), neither have those which relate to world-class performance. Through a range of studies, understanding current knowledge within the game (e.g., interviewing expert coaches) and also physical qualities data from the scientific literature, this PhD will develop an age specific physical qualities framework. The research will also undertake experimental training studies to look at how specific physical qualities can be optimised.

Contact: Dr Kevin Till

Telephone: 0113 81 25182

Email: K.Till@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


8. Exercise Helps Asthma: A longitudinal evaluation of physical activity (ExHALE Project)

An estimated 5.4 million (~8%) of the UK population have asthma, with the NHS incurring annual treatment costs of approximately £1.1billion. Despite substantial provision, asthma control remains sub-optimal across all treatment levels. Physical activity (PA) is a cost-effective approach that may be beneficial for managing asthma and associated co-morbidities; however, evidence to date is limited by short-term studies employing diverse sampling concerning disease severity, subtype and clinical control status. This studentship will combine novel methods of assessment to monitor PA, respiratory symptoms and airway health longitudinally, with the primary objective of providing patient-focussed PA recommendations to optimise future asthma care.

Contact: Dr Oliver Price

Telephone: 0113 81 23532

Email: O.Price@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


9. Developing physically active learning interventions through the Identification of behavioural and contextual factors that influence physical activity accumulation during school lessons

Evidence suggests that physically active learning (PAL) is a viable strategy to increase physical activity (PA) and academic attainment in school children. Yet, interventions are often designed by researchers with little knowledge of the current behavioural and context factors that influence lesson-time PA. Using novel methodologies, this PhD will identify key behavioural and contextual factors of lesson-time PA with key stakeholders from education and research. Identified factors will be tested using a citywide, objectively assessed PA dataset via multilevel modelling. Adopting a translational approach, a pretotype physically active learning intervention will be co-designed with teachers prior to assessing feasibility.

Contact: Dr Thomas Quarmby

Telephone: 0113 81 24703

Email: T.Quarmby@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


10. Sporting integrity: Examining the interaction between personality and social climate

Recent research has highlighted that personality and social climate in sport have a role to play on the moral behaviour of athletes. However, there is a dearth of research focused on how personality and the social environment in sport interact to influence self-regulation and behaviours that reflect integrity in sport (e.g., doping, antisocial and prosocial behaviour) and everyday contexts, particularly across different stages of development. To this end, this programme of research will aim to adopt longitudinal and experimental designs to investigate how personality and social factors in sport interact to influence integrity in youth and adult sport performers.

Contact: Dr Nick Stanger

Telephone: 0113 81 23525

Email: N.Stanger@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


11. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth talk out: Heteronormativity, homophobia and transphobia in PE and sport

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are at risk of prejudice and bullying in schools, with Physical Education (PE) identified as a particular ‘hotspot’ for discrimination (Drury, et al, 2017). This can result in lower levels of engagement in physical activity than heterosexual and cisgender students leading to health inequalities (Pride Sports/Sport England, 2016). However, the experiences of young people who identify as LGBT remain at the margins of contemporary research. This project seeks to address these concerns by drawing on queer and feminist theories to explore these experiences in PE and broader physical activity contexts.

Contact: Dr Annette Stride

Telephone: 0113 81 23547

Email: A.Stride@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


12. Professional sport business operations in the era of big data and social media

In collaboration with the Leeds Rugby Club (The Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie), this programme of research will explore the clubs’ social media platforms and data, with a focus on business analytic capture, big data and new and innovative ways to use social media networks to increase income streams.

Contact: Dr Paul Widdop

Telephone: 0113 81 29113

Email: P.Widdop@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


13. Promoting good health and wellbeing through outdoor and adventure interventions

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (2018) details plans to support the health and wellbeing of people and the natural world. This includes opening up the mental and physical benefits of the natural world to people from the widest possible range of ages and backgrounds. Carnegie Great Outdoors (CGO) is currently providing a variety of outdoor experiences that could have health and wellbeing benefits for people from a range of backgrounds. This proposal outlines a unique opportunity to carefully consider the 25 Year Environment Plan and evaluate the impact of activities designed and implemented by CGO.

Contact: Dr Eric Brymer

Telephone:0113 81 23528

Email: e.brymer@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


14. The impact of the DAZL community dance programme on physical activity and psycho-social health in young people

Prevalence of psychological health concerns amongst young people is rising, particularly in girls (i.e. low body image, self-worth and psychosomatic symptoms). The long-term consequences include social dysfunction, poor academic performance and even suicide. Dance has emerged as a viable tool to promote physical activity across hard-to-engage populations. Consequently, empirical evidence is required to examine the impact of dance for physical activity and health promotion in young people. This PhD aims to evaluate: 1) a pre-established, community dance programme for young girls from low SES communities; 2) and whether dance can build health resilience and improvements in girls’ psychosocial health.

Contact: Dr Stuart Flint

Telephone: 0113 81 22047

Email: S.W.Flint@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Plus Icon How to Apply

Please send the documents and proposal requested below to Research Admissions: researchadmissions@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Applicants are asked to:

  1. Complete the application form and provide a research proposal using the headings below as a guide. Click here to download the research student application form
  2. Submit scanned copies of your degree certificates (e.g. undergraduate and/or Masters degree certificates) and transcripts.
  3. Submit scanned copies of your English language requirements, if applicable.
  4. Submit scanned copies of your passport and previous UK visas, if applicable.

Studentship criteria:

The criteria listed below, a) to e), will be used to select applicants for interview and to identify those considered best suited to delivering a successful PhD Studentship.

  1. Qualifications, expertise and experience relevant to undertaking study for a PhD
  2. Knowledge of the subject area that will allow the development of a focussed line of enquiry;
  3. Knowledge and understanding of research methods appropriate to undertaking a PhD in your chosen area of research
  4. Clarity on the original contribution that the completed PhD will make to the body of knowledge in the relevant research literature
  5. Scale and scope of the proposed research in terms of delivery within the three-year studentship


  • The research proposal can be up to four A4 pages in length (with references as an addition) using type Arial 12 point. 
  • Applicants must include the research project title at the start of the research proposal.
  • Applicants must use the research project reference (SPORT18) as the subject in the email subject line when submitting applications.
  • If your first language is not English, we will require evidence that you have the necessary language skills to fulfil the requirements of the award. You will need to provide evidence of a minimum International English Language Testing System Grade 7.0 (IELTS 7.0) with no individual sub-score below 6.5. In the instances where a student does not have an IELTS, we will consider TOEFL iBT or Pearsons PTE as equivalent qualifications.  IELTS, TOEFL iBT or Pearsons PTE are the only accepted English language qualifications we accept. 
  • If you have successfully completed a UK Bachelors (first or 2.1) or UK Masters degree, in the two years before entry, this will suffice for the English language requirements.  If you completed your UK degree over two years ago, you will still need to demonstrate your English Language by taking an IELTS, TOEFL iBT or Pearsons PTE test.

What happens once I submit my application?

The Graduate School will check that your application is complete and that we have all documents that we require, e.g., certificates and transcripts. To ensure that your application is dealt with quickly please ensure you send all required documents.

Candidates invited for interview will be contacted by the Graduate School by email from 12th June.

Contact Us

If you have any further questions or need advice submitting your application, please contact us:

Email: Researchadmissions@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Telephone: +44 (0)113 812 5375

Plus Icon Finance

Each studentship will have:
A stipend of £14,777 paid monthly (amount conditional as offered) and exempt from UK Income Tax and National Insurance 
A tuition fee waiver.

Plus Icon Length of Studentships
The PhD studentships are for a period of 3 years full-time study. Annual renewal will be subject to satisfactory progress through Confirmation of Registration and Progression Meetings. 
Plus Icon Start Date and Induction
The start date of the studentships is 1st October 2018. 
Successful candidates will attend a University Induction Day on 13th October at Leeds Beckett University.
Plus Icon Part of the Research Culture
We expect our research students to be an integral part of the research culture of the School, contributing to seminars and conferences, perhaps to projects, and generally engaging in the exchange of ideas. Associated with this, all research students undertake a University research-training programme. 
Plus Icon Overseas' Applicants
Prospective students from outside of the UK and EU who wish to apply to study at Leeds Beckett University will be required to make up the difference annually between the UK/EU fees to be paid by the University of £4,195 and overseas’ fees of £12,000. The fee difference must be paid prior to starting.  Overseas applicants must refer to the UKBA regulations on studying in the UK and therefore contact researchadmissions@leedsbeckett.ac.uk - telephone: +44 (0)113 812 5385 before submitting.
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