Exit Menu

Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation PhD

MPhil option available This course has an MPhil option


PhD student loans

The UK Government has recently introduced PhD loans of up to £25000 to UK and EU nationals, residing in England, for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here

About the course

Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.

MPhil degree option An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.

Research profile
The Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation (CHPER) includes researchers from the departments of Clinical and Life Sciences, working in the cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal and neurological research areas linked to human performance, health and rehabilitation. The centre brings together strong research groups in physiology and biomechanics from the previous Centre of Sports Medicine and Human Performance in Life Sciences that are focused on cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal health across the life span with a number of staff in physiotherapy and occupational therapy in the Department of Clinical Sciences with complementary research interests.

  • Professor José González-Alonso is member of the Scientific Committee of the European College of Sport Science and was member of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) subpanel 26 – Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism.
  • Dr Jenni Jones is Expert Adviser for NICE's Centre for Clinical Practice; Member of the Advisory Panel for the World Heart Federation Global Alliance in Education; Member of Advisory Board of the MAGIC - Horizon 2020 PHC-27 Mobile Assistance for Groups Individuals within the Community - stroke rehabilitation; Member of Scientific Programme Committee for the European Society of Cardiology’s Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions; Executive Director of the National Institute for Preventive Cardiology, Ireland; Past-President of the British Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (BACPR); Past-President of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Cardiac Rehabilitation.  
  • Dr Mandy Jones is an academic member of CORU - Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals in the Republic of Ireland and a review panel member for South African Medical Research Council and UK Consensus Group on Acute Medicine.

Find out more


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)


Careers and your future

Paid work available to research students
Undertaking teaching and learning support duties represents an important professional and career development opportunity for postgraduate research students. Brunel offers two levels of paid work available to Postgraduate Research students. The first level post is as a Demonstrator and the second level post is as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Teaching and learning support duties will vary between Departments and research students should not rely on such opportunities being available. Find out more here.

Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:

  • Career path within academia starting as a University Lecturer/Assistant Professor
  • Career progression within research institutes commencing as a post-doc researcher and progressing to senior researcher
  • Career path within government agencies (e.g., Sport England, UK Sport, English Institute of Sport, Department of Health, Hospitals, etc.)
  • Career path within Sport organisations and charities
  • Career path in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy research
  • Professional Education and Training of Physiotherapists or Occupational Therapists

The Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences has strong links with local NHS trusts, national and international governing bodies of sport, hospitals and professional sports clubs such the Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, English Institute of Sport, UK Sport, GB Shooting, Lawn Tennis Association, etc.  The Division of Physiotherapy and the Division Occupational Therapy and Community Nursing have also strong collaborative links with several key London hospitals and NHS trusts.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Entry criteria 2019/20

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.

Research statement

As part of our application process for entry on our research degree (MPhil and PhD) programmes, we ask you to provide a 500-1,000 word research statement, excluding any references/bibliography you may include, setting out your research motivation, ideas and aspirations. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.  

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU entry requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.

We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.

Teaching and learning

Each student will be allocated a supervisory team consisting of the principal supervisor, second supervisor and a research development advisor. The supervisory team will set teaching and learning targets and advise the student how to achieve them. The progress of each student will be assessed by the supervisory team at regular meetings and by a formal Progress Review Panel at 9 months for full-time students (18 months for part-time students) and then annually. All academic supervisors receive university supported training in the supervision of PhD students.

All academic staff in CHPER are potential supervisors and are listed here. For details of potential research topics please visit this webpage.

Special features

  • CHPER offers training in cutting edge research techniques and methodologies in sport, exercise, health and rehabilitation sciences. A training programme will be provided by the College to assist students with achieving targets.  The programme will include the underpinning principles such as philosophy of science, research integrity, ethics and specialist methodology.  Sessions in core, specialist and advanced research methods will prepare students for an independent research career. Students will also enrol in the Graduate School Researcher Development Programme, which ensures all students are equipped with generic research skills including presentational skills and impact activities. 
  • CHPER researchers use state-of-the art cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal and neuro-muscular laboratories and associated equipment to gain new knowledge and understanding of the body systems regulation and adaptation to exercise and training and the factors regulating human performance, health and rehabilitation.  
  • The centre offers well-equipped research laboratories and study facilities that can accommodate 50-60 PhD students at any given time. There are also plans to build a new suite of specialist laboratories to extend our research portfolio.
  • Join an internationally recognised environment for research excellence – Brunel is ranked #3 and #5 in the UK for sport and exercise research in terms of research intensity and power, respectively (REF2014), and highest for sport and exercise research in London.
  • Be part of an expert community that publishes world-leading research addressing priority challenges in sport and exercise, health and wellbeing.
  • Benefit from our excellent relationships with sport performance and health organisations in the public, private and third sector, including policymakers, health professionals, professional sport, and local delivery partners in health, sport development and education.
  • In physiotherapy, you will join a group with internationally renowned expertise in cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal and neurological health and rehabilitation and in quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methodologies.
  • In Occupational Therapy, you will join researchers with the breadth of UK and international practice, from neurorehabilitation, to assessment and professional decision-making, components of driving skills, physical and cognitive developmental changes and supportive interventions, to psychoanalytic and narrative approaches to research.
  • Benefit from established relationships between physiotherapy and occupational therapy with health, government, professional and research funding bodies.
  • Enjoy being part of a well-resourced, collegial research environment - all our research students are based in our dedicated postgraduate study rooms alongside academic staff offices and play a full part in the activities of the Divisions

Facts and figures

  • Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences is ranked #3, #5 and #12 in the UK for sport and exercise research in terms of research intensity, power and overall quality profile, respectively (REF2014).
  • Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy were submitted to the Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy unit of assessment in REF 2014.  The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008.  The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Read more: Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
  • Recent grants awarded:
    • Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Pepsi Co Inc. USA – Do dehydration and hyperthermia compromise brain and muscle blood flow during exhausting exercise in humans? £129,369. PI Prof José González-Alonso. 
    • EUFA – Risks versus benefits: should youth football players be encouraged to take creatine? €20,000. PI Dr Pascale Kippelen
    • UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF) – National guidance for measuring home furniture and fittings to enable user self-assessment and successful fit of minor assistive devices. £79,185. PI Dr Georgia Spiliotopoulou.


Fees and funding

Fees for 2019/20 entry


Home/EU students:

International students:

Fees (per year):




Part-time (for students not requiring Tier 4 visa)











Research projects undertaken within the Department of Life Sciences in the areas of Biosciences; Environmental Sciences; Psychology and Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences may require an annual bench fee. Research projects undertaken within the Department of Clinical Sciences in the areas of Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; Health Sciences and Social Work may also require an annual bench fee. The amount is variable dependent on the requirements of the project and will be discussed and agreed between the applicant and the supervisor at interview stage. This amount will be additional to tuition fees and will be stated in the offer letter from Admissions.

Research funding

We offer a range of PhD studentships, partial scholarships, and academic prizes, to help with your research fees.  Explore external funding, particularly the Research Councils, as well as other support.

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.