Sports and fitness

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD or Professional doctorate PhD:
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
October November to January
PhD or Professional doctorate
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
Start dates
Application period
November to January

The OU Sport Research Group is a sub-group of Childhood, Youth, and Sport Group led by Dr Ben Langdown, which includes an interdisciplinary team of researchers designing, managing and completing research projects which are ultimately aimed at understanding and improving the lives and working practices of athletes and sports coaches.

The multi-disciplinary team draws upon a range of approaches and methodological expertise (including: auto/ethnography, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, grounded theory, creative analytical practices). The team’s research spans across numerous sport and exercise-related disciplines including coaching pedagogy, psychology, sociology, nutrition, strength and conditioning, motor control biomechanics and youth development in sport. Qualitative and quantitative research projects cover particular expertise of different sports including, athletic injury, athlete analysis, monitoring and training, wellbeing, post traumatic growth, athlete welfare, identity, embodiment, career transitions, coach education and specific sports activities.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA or research methods training at MA level (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Equality and sport
  • Sporting women’s sporting lived experiences
  • Abuse, maltreatment and athlete welfare in sport
  • Chronic illnesses (e.g. asthma) and sporting participation
  • Athlete transitions (e.g. retirement, motherhood and sport)
  • Athlete adversity, post traumatic growth and resiliency
  • Psychological aspects of a sports injury
  • Coach-athlete relationships and reflective practice
  • Expertise in a variety of sports (e.g. combat sports, team sports, athletics, swimming, golf)
  • Golf biomechanics
  • Golf strength and conditioning
  • Youth development in sport / physical education
  • Sport coaching and coach education
  • Professional and personal development of students/trainees and staff in education/sport science
  • Children’s experiences of physical activity during Covid19
  • Wellbeing of informal carers and professional development

Current/recent research projects

  • Embodied sporting/exercise experiences
  • Female sports participation and experiences
  • Transitional experiences of elite sportswomen from high, moderate and low risk sport
  • 7–11 year olds’ perceptions about physical activity
  • The socio-economic influences on children’s participation in sport
  • Career transitions for Winter sports UK Olympic athletes
  • Massage therapy for strength and conditioning programmes to improve chronic non-specific musculoskeletal pain
  • PE programmes and the mental health and academic achievement of underprivileged schoolchildren
  • Professional practice within the UK talent and high-performance sport system.
  • Wellbeing of informal carers, their relationship with physical activity and supporting them to access education and professional development opportunities

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

PhD fees

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Professional doctorate fees

UK fee International fee
Part time: £3,643 per year Part time: £9,250 per year

Some of our research students are funded via The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Runner on the sports track

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Lucy Rodriquez-Leon, PGR Convenor for Education, Learning and Development
Phone: +44 (0)1908 659151

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.