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Comparing the social and health consequences of collective and solitary physical activity participation

Project Description

Background: Academic study has traditionally focused upon physical activity at an individual level and has thus neglected the potential role of collective participation for motivation and health outcomes. This is despite the surge in popularity for collective forms of physical activity which could be either solitary or group-based – notably jogging and cycling – in both real-world (e.g. parkrun) and virtual environments (e.g. Zwift software).

The project: This is an interdisciplinary PhD opportunity between the School of Medicine and School of Management at the University of St Andrews. The project will make use of theoretical and methodological knowledge from health, social psychology and organisational studies to examine the consequences of collective and solitary physical activity for sustainable motivation and health outcomes. The methods will likely involve evidence synthesis, ethnographic and focus group work, surveys and experimental studies.

Training: The interdisciplinary and multi-method approach will provide the student with diverse theoretical and methodological training. The student will have access to training and networking activities in both participating schools.

The candidate: We are seeking applications from outstanding candidates with a background in a relevant health, social or behavioural science subject (e.g. psychology, organisational studies, sports science). Candidates should have excellent communication skills (written and verbal), be prepared to learn and use a variety of research methods and be willing to contribute to a collaborative and supportive research team. Applicants must not already hold a doctoral qualification or be currently studying towards a doctoral qualification.

• Candidates must hold or expect to gain a first or upper second-class degree in a relevant health or social or behavioural science subject (e.g., Psychology, Organisational studies, Sports science)
• Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
• A collaborative attitude to research

Also, desirable but not essential:
• Relevant postgraduate degree (e.g., MSc in Health, Social Psychology, Sports Psychology or Social Sciences or a MRes in Social Science Research Methods)
• Experience of using a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods

How to apply: complete the Research study application form at:

Informal inquiries should be directed to Dr Gozde Ozakinci () and Dr Fergus Neville ().

Funding Notes

The scholarship covers the full UK/EU or international fee (depending on the student recruited) and a stipend at the standard UKRI rate for the normal full-fee paying period. This opportunity is one of the University funded St Leonard’s College Interdisciplinary Doctoral Scholarships.

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