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MRes into the cultural and environmental influences on the motivational attributes and talent development of individuals within a professional football club

   School of Applied Sciences

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  Dr Hollie Fountain, Dr A Pitkethly, Dr C English  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project



Talent development environments (TDEs) are being increasingly assessed and scrutinised to help understand how they can provide the best opportunity to develop the potential of those involved. Research has highlighted the importance of pursuing a holistic and ecological approach, focusing on individuals’ interactions within and relationship with their environment. Organisational and development culture, as well as specific club and youth culture have been identified as key contributors to successful TDE’s, and have the capacity to influence characteristics of excellence as self-determination at an individual and team level.

This research project will be embedded within the talent development environment of a professional football club at both senior and academy level. The aim of the project will be to gather data surrounding the motivational attributes and skills relevant by both staff and players at a professional football club, that are required to attain performance related goals at an employment or on-pitch level respectively. The project will also be designed to review the environmental or cultural influences at the club which either support or inhibit these skills. A particular focus will be on the dissemination of physiological, performance and other football related outcome measures, and its role in fostering individuals’ self-determination qualities. The project will provide a platform on which to develop future environmental enhancements relating to a self-determined culture amongst staff and players at the club, which is based on rigorous scientific evidence. 

Following a synthesis of the literature, the objectives of this programme of study will be to establish a ‘motivational profile’ of both staff and players associated with excellence in a professional football context, as well as the cultural characteristics that impact this. Subsequently, data relating to the feedback and use of performance data (e.g. GPS) will be analysed to assess the impact of this on individuals’ self-determination with a view to developing this practice in line with the previous findings. 

n.b. The standard period for completion of this part-time MRes project is 20 months. In addition to registration on a part-time MRes at Edinburgh Napier University, the successful candidate will be required to work as part of the sport science team at Greenock Morton FC. Please see the funding notes for a full description of the hours of employment. It is important that the successful candidate can start the part time duties for the club from as soon as possible following successful interview. Interviews will be held Wednesday 18th August 2021.


Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Sport and Exercise Science with a good fundamental knowledge of  sport psychology concepts in applied settings.

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:

·        An interest in motivation and organisational psychology within a football setting

·        Competent in data management and analysis (ideally both qualitative and quantitative)

·        Knowledge and/or experience of talent development environments

·        Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

·        Good time management

·        Interpersonal skills and working as part of a multi-disciplinary team


Desirable attributes:

·        Previous work/study experience in an applied team sport setting

·        Experience of data processing and visualisation (e.g Catapult Vector system, SPSS)


When applying, please quote the application reference SAS0157  on your form.


·        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)


Funding Notes

This MRes project is funded part-time from 1st October 2021 – 31st May 2023 (approximately 0.6 of full-time equivalent).
The successful candidate will also be contracted to Greenock Morton FC for the remaining hours, starting as soon as possible following appointment. The Funding includes tuition fees at Home level (£3,039 per year) plus a full time stipend which follows RCUK stipend levels (currently £15609) per year for a maximum of 20 months. This stipend will cover both the part time MRes and part time role with the club.


Cresswell, J., Rogers, C., Halvorsen, J., & Bonfield, S. (2019). Ideal football culture: A cultural take on self‐determination theory. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 49(2), 198-211.
Henriksen, K., & Stambulova, N. (2017). Creating optimal environments for talent development: A holistic ecological approach. In Routledge handbook of talent identification and development in sport (pp. 270-284). Routledge.
Henriksen, K., Storm, L. K., & Larsen, C. H. (2017). Organisational culture and influence on developing athletes. In Sport psychology for young athletes (pp. 216-227). Routledge.
Mills, A., Butt, J., Maynard, I., & Harwood, C. (2012). Identifying factors perceived to influence the development of elite youth football academy players. Journal of sports sciences, 30(15), 1593-1604.