England Netball sponsored Research Studentship in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University and England Netball are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to join the research team at Leeds Beckett University, alongside providing sports science support to Vitality Roses athletes.

  • Full-time Sponsored Postgraduate Research Studentship  
  • Start date:  October 2021

The PhD studentship will have a bursary of £15,609 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) plus UK/EU Fees paid initially for a period of three years.

The quality of Carnegie School of Sport research is evident in the outstanding results achieved 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 Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre undertakes high quality applied research with international and national governing bodies, and a range of professional sports teams.

The Vitality Roses, England’s women national netball team have endured great success in recent years and are the currently ranked 3rd in the International Netball Federation world rankings. The team earned their first gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth games and a bronze medal in the 2019 Netball World Cup. Preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth games are now well underway, with training camps based in the UK and competitive fixtures in the UK and overseas. Roses players are part of a full-time high-performance training environment throughout the International season, supported by world-class coaches and sport science and medicine provision. Experience of providing sport science support is desirable.

Funding will consist of UK / EU full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates (£15,609 per annum pro-rata into 12 monthly payments). Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.

A laptop will be provided and office space (subject to LBU COVID19 arrangements for return to campus) and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.


(Supervisory Team; Professor Ben Jones, Dr Sarah Whitehead)

Understanding the characteristics of match-play in team-sports is important to ensure players are prepared appropriately for competition. Netball is a dynamic, high-intensity intermittent court-based sport that has unique physical, technical and tactical demands (Whitehead et al., 2021). Despite the professionalisation of the sport and Netball being one of the most popular women’s sports in the world, there is a significant gap in the literature on the characteristics of match-play and training, especially at the International level (Whitehead et al., 2021).

Developments in technology have enabled the quantification of the physical characteristics of elite level netball match-play, through the use of microtechnology (Brooks et al., 2020; Sweeting et al., 2017). Sweeting et al. (2017) have used spatiotemporal data to discover frequently recurring movement patterns within match-play, with network analysis determining movement sequence similarity between positions. Yet, the validity and reliability of discrete movement patterns derived from micro-electrical mechanical systems within netball is unknown.

Additionally, several studies have investigated the technical-tactical characteristics of match-play elite level netball (Whitehead et al., 2021), with recent research investigating the association with match outcome (Ofoghi et al., 2021). However, the interaction of the physical and technical-tactical characteristics are yet to be investigated. Data mining techniques can be used to explore the effect of  opposition on interactions of technical and physical performances, as done in basketball (Zhang et al., 2018) and soccer (Yi et al., 2019), providing insights into the performance profiles of teams and guide training preparation.

Therefore, the successful candidate will undertake a programme of research quantifying the match characteristics of International netball and the implications for training practices, through the use of advanced analytics. The research will look to quantify, and determine interactions between the physical and technical-tactical characteristics, to offer new insights into sports performance and have a direct application to international netball performance. 

Alongside the research, the successful candidate will be embedded into the Vitality Roses environment supervised by Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, Katie Denton. The candidate will work directly with England Netball providing approx. 80 days per year in the role of Sport Scientist for the Vitality Roses. The successful candidate will have a strong background in sports analytics and data analysis. Experience using various coding programmes (e.g., R, python) and microtechnology systems will be advantageous. The studentship will be based in Leeds with attendance England Netball camp venues.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals and with the Project Lead; Dr Sarah Whitehead (s.whitehead@leedsbeckett.ac.uk).


  • Brooks, E.R., Benson, A.C., Fox, A.S. and Bruce, L.M., 2020. Physical movement demands of elite-level netball match-play as measured by an indoor positioning system. Journal of sports sciences, 38(13), pp.1488-1495
  • Ofoghi, B., Chenaghlou, M., Mooney, M., Dwyer, D.B. and Bruce, L., 2021. Team technical performance characteristics and their association with match outcome in elite netball. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, pp.1-13
  • Sweeting, A.J., Aughey, R.J., Cormack, S.J. and Morgan, S., 2017. Discovering frequently recurring movement sequences in team-sport athlete spatiotemporal data. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(24), pp.2439-2445
  • Whitehead, S., Weakley, J., Cormack, S., Alfano, H., Kerss, J., Mooney, M. and Jones, B., 2021. The Applied Sports Science and Medicine of Netball: A Systematic Scoping Review. Sports Medicine, pp.1-17
  • Yi, Q., Gómez, M.A., Wang, L., Huang, G., Zhang, H. and Liu, H., 2019. Technical and physical match performance of teams in the 2018 FIFA World Cup: Effects of two different playing styles. Journal of sports sciences, 37(22), pp.2569-2577
  • Zhang, S., Lorenzo, A., Zhou, C., Cui, Y., Gonçalves, B. and Angel Gómez, M., 2019. Performance profiles and opposition interaction during game-play in elite basketball: evidences from National Basketball Association. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 19(1), pp.28-48

As part of your application, please provide a CV, cover letter and research proposal. The proposal should align to the above theme and include a brief literature review related to this project, with an outline of the studies that you would propose to the answer the aims of the PhD (maximum 5 pages single spaced).

We can only consider complete applications. The research degree application is complete once you have uploaded all of the following:

  1. Your application form (include the project reference CARR EN1)
  2. Your research proposal, statement of purpose and CV on the Research proposal template
  3. Copies of your bachelors and master certificates, including transcripts
  4. Copy of your IELTS (or equivalent) certificate (if applicable) further information can be found on our Graduate School FAQs
  5. Copy of your passport

Email the documentation above) to researchadmissions@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

The deadline for applications is midnight 8 August 2021

Candidates must be available for interview on 20 August 2021

Who to contact

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