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Exploring esports as a pedagogical tool for young people's identity, culture and wellbeing development

There is growing concern over the impact that young people’s engagement with digital technologies has on their well-being. The discussions surrounding young people’s uses of digital technologies are overwhelming underpinned by a dialogue associated with risk and negative consequences. Specifically, in relation to esport engagement, young people’s participation has been noted as a serious public health concern (Holden et al., 2018). “Esports is the casual or organized competitive activity of playing specific video games that provide professional and/or personal development to the player” (Pedraza-Ramirez, 2020:4). Despite the concerns that digital technologies and specifically esports can have negative impacts on well-being, they also present opportunities for learning and identity, that have previously been under explored.

Using a range of innovative qualitative methods, this project will build upon existing evidence relating to the psychology of esport participation. Specifically, this project will adopt an interdisciplinary approach, using theories from education and psychology. The aim of this project is to explore the opportunities associated with esport participation by exploring relationships between culture, identity and pedagogy. This project aims to develop knowledge to support educators and practitioners to make pedagogically informed decisions about technology integration and to understand how esports can be used as a learning resource.

Applicants interested in pursuing the project would ideally have backgrounds in sport health and exercise sciences, social psychology, sport psychology, education, esports or any other related subject.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Charlotte Kerner - Dr Charlotte Kerner is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Health and Exercise Sciences (Youth Sport and Physical Education). Her research focuses on the role of physical education in encouraging and promoting physical activity and well-being throughout the lifespan. Dr Kerner is specifically interested in how learning environments can be structured to facilitate physical activity motivation and support the development of a positive body image in children and adolescents. She is also interested in the role of technology in this process. Her work focuses on applying social psychological theory to explore these issues.

Rebecca Hings - Dr Rebecca Hings is a Lecturer in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences (Psychology) in the Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Department of Life Sciences at Brunel University London. Beckie is an active member of the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing theme in the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies. Beckie joined the university shortly after defending her PhD thesis at the University of Portsmouth in November 2018. Beckie's doctoral research focused on examining how and why sports medicine and science practitioners manage their emotions when interacting with clients as part of their professional practice. During her PhD, Beckie joined the University of Birmingham as a Research Planning Officer and contributed to the development of REF Impact Case Studies in medicine, clinical sciences, and life and environmental sciences. Beckie is a member of the international Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology Development and Training research group that focuses on advancing the practice of future and existing professionals through evidence-based education and training.