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Find out about the research we do in Sport Sciences

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Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences PhD

Start date

January

October

April

Mode of study

3 years full-time

6 years part-time

MPhil option available
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Research profile

Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Brunel hosts a vibrant community of researchers with expertise in both natural and social sciences. Natural science research focuses on integrative aspects of human physiology, biomechanics and psychology of sport and exercise. A primary aim is to further our fundamental understanding of the regulation and adaptation of the cardiovascular, respiratory and neuromuscular systems to exercise and training, as well as the physiological, biomechanical and psychological limitations to human sports performance and exercise tolerance. Social science research focuses on the role of sport, health and wellbeing in contemporary society and their relevance to policy and practice. Work spans a wide remit, from analysis of healthy lifestyles and community sport participation, to research into elite sport systems and performers.

Our research is highly regarded and offers talented researchers the opportunity to:

  • Join an internationally recognised environment for research excellence – Brunel is ranked #5 in the UK for sport and exercise research in terms of research power (REF2014), and highest for sport, health and exercise research in London.
  • Be part of an expert community that publishes world-leading research addressing priority challenges in sport, exercise, health and wellbeing.
  • Benefit from our excellent relationships with sports performance and health organisations in the public, private and third sector, including policymakers, health professionals, professional athletes, and local delivery partners in health, sport development and education.
  • 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 Division.

We have 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.  We work extensively with organisations promoting health and wellbeing through sport, from community organisations to major national agencies including the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, Public Health England, Macmillan Cancer Support, Diabetes UK, Sport England, the Arts Council for England, Historic England and sportscotland. 

Find out about the exciting research we do in this area. Browse profiles of our experts, discover the research groups and their inspirational research activities you too could be part of. We’ve also made available extensive reading materials published by our academics and PhD students.  

Learn more about research in this area.

You can explore our campus and facilities for yourself by taking our virtual tour.

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Find a supervisor

Our researchers create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip versatile doctoral researchers with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team.

You are welcome to approach your potential supervisor directly to discuss your research interests. Search for expert supervisors for your chosen field of research.

PhD topics

While we welcome applications from student with a clear direction for their research, we are providing you with some ideas for your chosen field of research:

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Research journey

This course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in January. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in October. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in April.

Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure.

The programme specification is in the process of being updated and may not be an accurate reflection of the programme.

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Research support

Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students.

Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.

Find out more: Brunel Library

Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences offer training in cutting edge research techniques and methodologies. The natural science researchers use state-of-the-art cardiovascular, respiratory, biomechanics and motor behaviour laboratories and associated equipment to gain new knowledge and understanding of the body systems regulation and adaptation to exercise and training and the factors limiting human skill and physical performance.  The social science researchers offer expertise in a wide range of established and more innovative quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods and evaluation methodologies.  Our strong networks provide students with invaluable access to the sport and health sector, e.g. our PhD projects working with Public Health England, Macmillan Cancer Support, UK Sport and UNICEF. We also have at our disposal well-equipped research laboratories and study facilities that can accommodate 30-40 PhD students at any given time.

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Careers and your future

You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.

In addition, where available, you may be able to undertake some paid work as we recognise that teaching and learning support duties represent an important professional and career development opportunity.

Find out more.

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, etc)
  • Career path within local and community sport organisations and charities
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UK entry requirements

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1). 

An interview will be required as part of the admissions process and will be conducted by at least two academic staff members remotely via MS Teams, Zoom, or face to face.

Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and a research statement.
Please contact your proposed supervisor, where possible, to receive feedback and guidance on your research statement before submitting it. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.  

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EU and International entry requirements

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.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (59 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 68% (58% in all areas)
  • TOEFL: 98 overall (min 20) 

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

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 through our Brunel Language Centre.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants. This information is for guidance only and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Entry requirements are subject to review, and may change.

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Fees and funding

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

Fees for EU applicants – For entry in 2022/23 academic year, eligible EU applicants will have the same tuition fees as UK students to continue our support during this transition period. These fees will be applied for the duration of the course.

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

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. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU 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%.

PhD studentships