PhD Scholarship - Sheffield Hallam University: Exercise Prescription and Physical Activity Promotion for Cancer Survivors

   Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre

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  Dr Sarah Hardcastle  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship - Exercise Prescription and Physical Activity Promotion for Cancer Survivors at the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity (ASPA), hosted by the Sport and Physical Activity Research centre (SPARC), commencing 01February 2024 (negotiable depending on circumstances).

The scholarship is for three and a half years full-time study and covers home PhD fees, currently £4712 pa, and pays an annual stipend at the living wage foundation rate of £ 19,053 per year in 23/24. This stipend payment will increase annually based on the rate set by the living wage foundation for the duration of the scholarship. 

Please note that this scholarship is a full-time position and the successful applicant must have completed all previous study and employment at the point that the scholarship begins.

SPARC conducts research activity in a number of key areas and hosts four Research Groups:=

·        Physical Activity, Wellness and Public Health

·        Sport Industry Research Group

·        Sport Engineering Research Group

·        Sport and Human Performance

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 88% of our research was rated as world-leading and internationally excellent (4* and 3*), with 80% of our research impact rated as world-leading (4* - the remaining 20% 3*) and 100% of our research environment judged to be 3* or 4*.

We have a community of approximately 45 postgraduate students in sport and physical activity who are at the heart of contributing to our research output. All doctoral students are supported by a comprehensive programme of doctoral training and encouraged to present their research findings at national and international conferences. 

You are encouraged to contact the Director of Studies, Sarah Hardcastle [Email Address Removed] for further information prior to applying.

About the PhD

The PhD will investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of written exercise prescription and exercise prescriptions in conjunction with a motivational package to increase physical activity amongst adult cancer survivors.

The importance of physical activity (PA) for a healthy survivorship trajectory is widely documented. Despite a trend of increasing survival, cancer survivors are at an increased risk of secondary cancers, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and functional decline compared to the general population (Baade et al., 2006; Keats et al., 2017). PA reduces the risk of CVD (Stewart et al., 2017), cancer-related death and mortality (Friedenreich et al., 2019). However, few cancer survivors achieve the international PA recommendations to undertake ≥150 min/week of moderate-intensity PA or ≥75 min/week of vigorous-intensity PA or an equivalent combination of the two (≥150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous PA) (Arem et al., 2020). As such, there is a need to identify effective interventions to increase PA in cancer survivors.

There has been a proliferation of PA interventions, yet only a minority of cancer survivors receive PA advice or referral as part of their routine care (Fisher et al., 2015; Nadler et al., 2017; Park et al., 2015a). Oncologists review their patients regularly, in many instances for several years after diagnosis, and are often perceived by their patients as authority figures. They are, therefore, in a unique position to promote the uptake of PA. Interventions that bypass the oncologist are unlikely to be scalable or to reach many patients and hence there is a need to support oncologists to promote PA (Hardcastle & Cohen, 2017). There is currently a gap in the literature concerning the feasibility and effectiveness of brief oncologist delivered interventions to promote PA amongst survivors.

The PhD will have two research strands:

(i) To explore Oncologists’ attitudes towards PA promotion and their confidence and support needs to promote PA to cancer survivors;

(ii) To conduct a randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of an Oncologist written exercise prescription and an Oncologist written exercise prescription, combined with an attendant motivational package on PA and sedentary behaviour compared to usual care. There may be an opportunity to collect data for this project in Western Australia.

Who should apply?

Applicants should hold a BSc (1st or 2:1) honours degree (or equivalent) in sport or exercise science, Psychology, Public Health or a related area. An MSc qualification in a related area is desirable, as would experience of working with clients or patients in health promotion or exercise settings. We are offering this as a full-time PhD scholarship. We welcome applications from all members of our community and are particularly encouraging those from diverse groups, such as members of the LGBTQIA+, BAME and disabled communities.

Sheffield Hallam also has a mandatory English language requirement of IELTS 7, or equivalent language qualification, for all applicants to whom English is not their first language. This qualification should have been taken within the last two-years, with a score of at least 7 in all test areas.  

Further information about equivalent English language qualifications can be found here:

How to apply

To apply for the PhD studentship, please complete and submit an application form and provide a detailed 1,500-word research proposal addressing the project title ‘Exercise Prescription and Physical Activity Promotion for Cancer Survivors’.

Please add the project title clearly within the Personal Statement field of the application. DO ensure that all attachments have been uploaded to the application system. We cannot consider applications where a detailed 1,500-word research proposal has not been submitted by the deadline. 

You can find our on-line application form on the ‘Apply Now’ section of the Sport and Physical Activity PhD page here Please choose the option to apply for the February 2024 intake.

Please submit your application form by the closing date of Wednesday 22nd November at 12 noon GMT. Late applications will not be accepted.

For general enquires please contact the Health Research Institute Postgraduate Research Team via email at [Email Address Removed]  

Provisional Interviews dates w/c 4th December & 11 December

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

The Scholarship bursary will cover only the Home fee. The shortfall between the Home and EU/ International fee, around £11,700 per year, will be covered by the student for the duration of the studentship. As part of the Sheffield Hallam PhD scholarship programme, additional funding may be made available to assist International students with the fee gap as described above. This additional funding is limited and will only be offered to exceptional International applicants. Allocation of this additional funding will be based on information obtained through the standard recruitment process, and no additional application will be required.

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