Optimising preparation, performance, and recovery in elite women’s football (RDFC22/HLS/SER/THOMAS)

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr K Thomas  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a fully-funded PhD, covering tuition fees and a monthly stipend paid for 3 years at UKRI rates.

About Newcastle United FC: Newcastle United and Newcastle United Women are two of the most exciting environments in UK and global sport at the moment. We are on a journey of transformation as we aim to ignite the passion and pride of our city, communities and supporters. Honouring our heritage and creating a new legacy, United as One. We are looking for talented people who share our passion for Club’s and Communities

About the PhD:  As a result of the club’s ambition to develop a world class Women’s football setup, a unique opportunity is available for an exceptional candidate to complete applied research as part of a collaborative Ph.D project between Newcastle United Women and Northumbria University. The successful candidate will be embedded within the Sport Science Department at Newcastle United, and will assist in the delivery of elite performance support as part of the multi-disciplinary team supporting Newcastle United Women. The student will conduct applied research with the aim of positively impacting the day-to-day practice of coaches and scientists working in elite, female, football environments. This opportunity is a full time PhD embedded within a professional football team, and will include evening and weekend work and some travel. The position includes tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. Continuation of funding will be subject to satisfactory progression.

Research Question: The aim of the research project is to provide novel insight into the preparation, performance, and recovery of female athletes in a football environment. As part of the application applicants should submit a 1,000 word research proposal in an area of their choice. The following are possible topic areas candidates could consider:

1)     Monitoring strategies to optimise performance in women’s football

2)     Interventions to promote recovery after football-specific exercise in females

3)     Strength and conditioning interventions to maximise preparedness for women’s football

4)     Application of novel equipment and technology in female football

5)     Measuring, monitoring, and understanding the consequences of training & competition demands in female football

The research proposal should demonstrate your understanding of research with female athletes, working in an applied environment, and the science of women’s football, and should include an outline of potential research questions and indicative methods. 

Eligibility Criteria:

Please note eligibility requirements:

·      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, in sport science or a relevant discipline.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Essential (E) and desirable (D) characteristics:

·      Knowledge of the physiological demands of women’s professional football (E)

·      Experience of providing scientific support to female athletes (E)

·      Experience as a player or coach in football, particularly women’s football (D)

·      A demonstrable passion for innovation and the growth of women’s sport (E)

·      Good communication skills, both written and verbal (E)

·      Ability to manage time effectively and efficiently to achieve in all aspects of the role (E)

·      Good organizational skills with a strong attention to detail and ability to prioritize/multi-task (D)

·      Experience in Sports Science technologies and Athlete Management Systems (D)

·      Strong PC skills (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint) (D)

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. RDFC22/…) will not be considered.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student. Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence.

How to Apply

Deadline for applications: Sunday 2nd July 2023

Interviews: Within 2 weeks of the closing date

Start Date: August/September 2023

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers. 

Funding Notes

This is a funded opportunity. The studentship is available to students classed as Home and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates paid for 3 years (for 2023/24 full-time study this is £18,622 per year) and full tuition fees.
Please see further details above.


Hicks, K. M., Hackney, A. C., Dooley, M., & Bruinvels, G. (2022). 13.3 Testing the female athlete. Sport and Exercise Physiology Testing Guidelines: Volume I-Sport Testing: The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Guide, 368.
McNulty KL, Elliott-Sale KJ, Dolan E, Swinton PA, Ansdell P, Goodall S, Thomas K, Hicks KM. The Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Exercise Performance in Eumenorrheic Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2020 Oct;50(10):1813-1827. doi: 10.1007/s40279-020-01319-3. PMID: 32661839; PMCID: PMC7497427.
Elliot-Sale KJ, McNulty KL, Ansdell P, Goodall S, Hicks KM, Thomas K et al. The effects of oral contraceptives on exercise performance in females: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Submitted to Sports Med 2020.
Deely, C., Tallent, J., Bennett, R., Woodhead, A., Goodall, S., Thomas, K., & Howatson, G. (2022). Etiology and recovery of neuromuscular function following academy soccer training. Frontiers in Physiology, 1170.
Ansdell, P., Thomas, K., Hicks, K. M., Hunter, S. K., Howatson, G., & Goodall, S. (2020). Physiological sex differences affect the integrative response to exercise: acute and chronic implications. Experimental physiology, 105(12), 2007-2021.

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