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Boys will be boys? Exploring boys’ embodied identities within physical education SSEHS/OH/RS

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

  Dr Oliver Hooper, Dr Rachel Sandford  Friday, March 31, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Research has consistently identified how the reproduction of gendered bodily norms through PE – influenced by broader physical cultures – can shape young people’s ideas of ‘valued bodies’ (Aartun et al., 2022). Whilst extensive research within PE has explored the various challenges that young people might face within this context, it has focused almost exclusively on girls and, more recently, gender- and sexuality-diverse youth.

However, boys have been a somewhat overlooked group within PE scholarship and so this research will provide much needed insight into their (diverse) embodied experiences of PE. Importantly, the PE context can be an extremely influential space for boys, with (normative) notions of masculinity often being promulgated within and through the subject (Gerdin, 2017). As a result of this, it can be a particularly marginalising space for those who do not conform to the ideals of hegemonic masculinity (Hill, 2015).

This research will employ innovative participatory methods to explore boys’ experiences of PE and to elucidate the influence it has on their embodied identities. It will examine the various ways in which this overlooked group navigate the PE context – complying with, contesting and resisting (normative) notions of masculinity.

Further, the research will draw on the innovation of ‘pedagogies for voice’ (Hooper, 2018) to enable boys to reimagine the PE context, identifying strategies by which the space might be made more inclusive – particularly for those who might not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity – and to enhance pedagogical practice around gender-sensitive PE.

The proposed project has significant potential to influence both policy and practice within PE and will seek to establish more inclusive learning environments within PE – for pupils of all gender identities – as well as enhancing the relevance of the subject for pupils. This, in turn, has the potential to improve pupils’ engagement and learning in PE and to promote positive wellbeing more broadly.


Primary supervisor: Dr Oliver Hooper

Secondary supervisor: Dr Rachel Sandford

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Students should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree in Physical Education, Sport Coaching, Sport Science or a related subject. A relevant Masters degree will be an advantage. Experience of work within a school/education context is also desirable.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Please quote the advertised reference number: SSEHS/OH/RS in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

See studentship assessment criteria.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
International fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by installment.
The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £17,668 per annum (22/23 rate, 23/24 TBC) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at either the UK or International rate.
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