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Improving lives through the power of football: A realist evaluation of the Foundation of Light’s community and education programmes for children and young people. (Ref: RDFC19/SER/POTRAC)

  • Full or part time

    Dr S Dalkin
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, August 27, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Foundation of Light is a pioneering sports charity, which has won multiple awards for their ground-breaking sports, health, community and education programmes. The charity has a highly skilled and diverse team that includes professional teachers, health workers, sports coaches, family learning officers, youth workers and support staff. The community team is based at the Beacon of Light and outreach centres throughout Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.
The Foundation of Light opened in 2001 and now has several established community programmes addressing a) education, b) employability and entrepreneurship, c) health and well-being, and d) anti-social behaviour. These programmes are complex and likely to have a range of impacts, which have not yet been demonstrated through rigorous empirical inquiry. In order to maintain growth and demonstrate impact to funders, the Foundation of Light feels it is timely to evaluate their community schemes and programmes. The outcomes of this research has the potential to not only impact upon community-based practice and policy regionally, but also nationally and internationally.
The studentship will entail completing an in-depth evaluation of specified Foundation of Light programmes, which will provide the organisation with a robust evidence base to underpin and enhance their work in the community. Given the complex social interventions delivered by Foundation of Light, a realist evaluation framework will be employed. The focus will be on what works, for who and in which circumstances and will entail using a multiple methods approach to data generation.
An important part of the collaboration between the University and the Foundation of Light is the requirement for the successful candidate to spend a significant amount of time within the Foundation of Light organisation, in Sunderland.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC19/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 27/8/19
Interviews: September 2019 TBC
Start Date: 01/10/19
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.


1. Gale, L., Ives, B., Nelson, L., & Potrac, P. (in press). Trust in community sports work: Tales from the ‘Shop Floor’. Sociology of Sport Journal.
2. Brown S, Lhussier M, Dalkin SM, Eaton S. Care Planning: What Works, for Whom, and in What Circumstances? A Rapid Realist Review. Qualitative Health Research 2018:
3. Dalkin SM, Forster N, Hodgson P, Lhussier M, Philipson P, Carr SM. Exposing the impact of advice services on health: a realist evaluation. Health and Social Care in the Community 2018: Emmel N, Greenhalgh G, Manzano A, Monaghan M, Dalkin S. ‘Doing Realist Research’. SAGE; London: 2018.
4. Lhussier M, Dalkin SM, Hetherington, R. Community care for severally frail older people: Developing explanations of how, why and for whom it works. International Journal of Older People’s Nursing 2018:
5. Ives, B., Gale, L., Nelson, L., & Potrac, P. (2016). Enacting youth sport policy: Towards a micro-political and emotional understanding of community sports coaching work. In A. Smith and K. Green (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of youth sport (pp. 559-570). London: Routledge.
6. Potrac, P. (2016). Delivering the FA Grassroots Club Mentor Programme: Mentors’ experiences of practice. In W. Allison, A. Abrahams, & A. Cale (Eds.), The FA’s advances in coach education and development: From research to practice (pp. 76-86). London: Routledge.

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