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Enabling the dual careers of elite Scottish academy athletes: a multi-stakeholder perspective.

School of Applied Sciences

About the Project

Athletes are increasingly engaging in a dual career which balances sporting endeavours with off-field activities including formal education. The potential benefits of the sporting dual career are significant and include improved wellbeing, improved sporting performance and enhanced career options. Nevertheless, successfully navigating a dual career pathway involves a complex interaction of personal, organisational, structural and pedagogical elements (EU Commission, 2012).

Academy level athletes encounter additional challenges primarily relating to transition, and are in particular need of additional support networks and processes in order to fulfil their potential within the sporting and academic domains simultaneously (Knight et al., 2018).
This project aims to explore the phenomenon of dual careers at the elite academy level from the perspective of a range of stakeholders (e.g. athletes, academy coaches, education officers, academics, support staff, parents) through qualitative research methodologies. Identification of important factors and multi-agency approaches to enabling the dual-career amongst this cohort will provide valuable information which may inform policy and best practice for sporting and educational institutions.

Edinburgh Napier University hosts both the Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy and the Cricket Scotland Performance Academy and also has partnerships with a number of professional football academies with a large number of academy level athletes enrolled onto programmes of academic study. The university’s dual career policy is comprehensive and forms part of the academic regulations demonstrating a strong commitment to supporting student athletes.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in sport, exercise or health science with a good fundamental knowledge of applied research methods.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
 Experience of fundamental research principles
 Competent in qualitative methodologies
 Knowledge of performance sport
 Good written and oral communication skills
 Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
 Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Experience within a sporting academy environment, knowledge of dual careers in sport

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded position.

Please quote project code SAS0084 in your enquiry and application.
• Completed application form
• CV
• 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)
• A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)
• Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)


Knight, C. J., Harwood, C. G. and Sellars, P. A. (2018) Supporting adolescent athlete’s dual careers: the role of an athlete’s social support network. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Volume 38.
European Commission. (2012) EU guidelines on dual careers of athletes: recommended policy actions in support of dual careers in high-performance sport. Brussels.

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