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Optimising physical activity environments for older adults

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 15, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We are offering a fully funded 3-year PhD studentship in the area of optimising physical activity environments for older adults adopting approaches that can lead to physical activity promotion that are tailored, valued, sustainable and effective. The research focus will involve employing an innovative participatory research approach, where the successful applicant will engage with older people, community leaders and other key stakeholders. This exciting, cutting edge research will provide unique opportunities to work closely with the supervisory team and external partners to co-create urban environments that support older adults to be more physically and socially active.
The overall aim of this thesis will be to identify barriers to and facilitators of active, healthy ageing through assessing diverse geographical and socio-economic urban environments in which older adults live. The outcomes of this research may include: a) an enhanced understanding of the impact of natural and built environments on lifestyle choices and the experience of ageing in urban environments; and b) guidance on how to better plan good-quality public recreational spaces including green and blue open spaces that are consistent with the principles of safe, universal, age-friendly and equitable access to reduce inequalities.
The successful applicant will be supervised by Dr Afroditi Stathi and colleagues at the University of Birmingham and Oxford University, and will conduct a series of studies targeting the promotion of active, healthy ageing in urban environments. The exact nature of the research will emerge over the course of the PhD, with input from the student, the supervisory team and via grassroots community engagement, co-development and ownership. The successful candidate will become a member of the Global Citizen Science Network1 and benefit from its global reach and supportive resources (

The successful applicant will need:
1. A good first degree (2.1 or above) in exercise sciences, behavioural science, human geography, psychology or a health-related subject.
2. A strong interest in active and healthy ageing.
3. Experience of qualitative and/or quantitative research methods.
4. Excellent communication and relationship-building skills.
5. Excellent written and verbal English skills

1. Experience working with older adults.
2. An MSc or MRes in exercise sciences, behavioural sciences, human geography, psychology or a health-related subject.
3. Experience with mixed methods research designs.
4. Experience of conducting interviews/focus groups.

Information on Entry Requirements can be found at:

How to Apply
1. Please apply using this website:
2. Select: PhD in School of Sport and Exercise Sciences Full-time Research 2018/19. This is towards the bottom of the page.
To discuss the project further, please contact Dr Afroditi Stathi ( or @afroditistathi).

Funding Notes

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by the University of Birmingham, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, as part of Dr Stathi’s Research portfolio and is available to EU or UK citizens only. This 3-year studentship will cover a stipend at the standard Research Council rate, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.


1. Hinckson, E., Schneider, M., Winter, S. J., Stone, E., Puhan, M., Stathi, A., Porter, M. M. , Gardiner, P. A., Lopes dos Santos, D., Wolff, A. & King, A. C. (2017). Citizen Science applied to building healthier community environments: advancing the field through shared construct and measurement development. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 14, 133.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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