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Leeds United Football Club Academy and the Carnegie School of Sport are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to a prestigious fully funded PhD studentship. Project: Optimising food and nutrition education within a professional football academy: A behavioural science approach

   The School of Sport

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  Dr S Emmonds  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This is a unique opportunity for an enthusiastic and high-achieving individual, looking to undertake a PhD in a vibrant research and professional sporting environment. The successful candidate will help innovate and drive current and future practices with a high level of scientific rigour across the Leeds United Football Club Academy.

Under the supervision of the Head of Performance and Lead Nutritionist, the successful student will support the nutritional strategies at the Club while concurrently conducting their research. Therefore, this project represents an exciting opportunity for the successful candidate to develop both their applied practice and applied research skills while working within a English Premier League Category 1 Academy.

PhD Title: Optimising food and nutrition education within a professional football academy: A behavioural science approach.

Effective food and nutrition education is pivotal to the holistic development of elite academy football players, as appropriate dietary intakes support the demands of growth and maturation, training and match-play, alongside psychosocial wellbeing (Collins et al., 2020). However, nutrition education programs for team sport athletes typically have varied success (Sánches-Díaz et al., 2020), with a recent systematic review outlining a requirement for further rigorous and well-designed research to inform best practice (Boidin et al., 2020). Clearly, the food choices of youth football players are complex and determined by a myriad of interacting factors, of which knowledge of what to eat is only one. As such, there is a requirement for a behaviourally focused, systematic and theory-driven approach to nutrition curriculum development (Luesse, et al., 2019), which utilises innovative educational and communicational methods to engage and activate youth (Contento, 2016; Contento, 2012). Such an approach should move beyond sole information dissemination, instead developing the motivation, capability and opportunity of elite academy football players to eat for optimal health, development and wellbeing. 

Therefore, the purpose of this PhD is to explore the use of contemporary behavioural science within the design, implementation and evaluation of food and nutrition education for elite academy football players (Michie et al., 2014). Acknowledging the wider behavioural system, key stakeholders who influence the education and communication of dietary behaviour(s) within professional football academies will also be investigated. Applied methodologies will be embedded within the constraints of day-day schedules, consequently this research program will consider the practicability of implementing behavioural science within an elite nutrition curriculum. Collectively, research findings will be used to inform optimisation of food and nutrition education within a professional football academy.

Further information and how to apply can be found at

Funding Notes

Funding will consist of UK/EU full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates (£15,609 per annum pro-rata into 12 monthly payments). Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.
A laptop will be provided and office space (subject to LBU COVID19 arrangements for return to campus) and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.