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PhD Studentship: Evaluating the Impact of Rugby League Cares’ Community Sport and Health Programmes

   Department of Sport and Physical Activity

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  Prof Andy Smith  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

(Reference: 001/RUC/OCT22)

This PhD studentship is offered by the Department of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University in partnership with Rugby League Cares (RLCares) to evaluate the impact of its community programmes in generating sporting and wider social and public health outcomes.

All postgraduate researchers are registered in the University’s Graduate School and housed in the faculty or department that is most appropriate for the project on which they are working. The successful candidates in this case will be housed in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity, supported by an expert supervisory team.

The Research Project

Focusing on an agreed sample of community programmes which support the health and wellbeing of different populations across various types of local communities, this innovative project will examine how and why:

  • RLCares and their locally trusted clubs and foundations benefit the lives of people who would not otherwise engage in local services, including health services provided by the NHS and other bodies;
  • community-centred, place-based and neighbourhood-focused approaches can support the health and wellbeing of individuals and their communities;
  • health (especially mental health) and other inequalities can be positively addressed via targeted community programmes which are embedded into local Integrated Care Systems and other community-based assets (e.g. schools, workplaces); and
  • the RLCares workforce (including former professional players) and other assets (including the brand of rugby league) can help generate sporting and wider social and public health (especially mental health) outcomes through their work.

The project will employ a three-year longitudinal, mixed-methods, research design and will require you to have experience of conducting qualitative and quantitative research, preferably in community sport and health settings.

Benefits and Opportunities

The successful applicant will be registered in the University’s Graduate School and hosted in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity. In completing the project, you will work closely with staff at RLCares and their partners and engage in the regular dissemination of project learning through public engagement activities. You will also join an expanding research team working in the field of sport, physical activity and mental health at Edge Hill University, and benefit from engaging in the University’s researcher development programme.

Edge Hill University is “a great success story… an institution that improves and impresses year after year” – Times Higher Education. The University has been awarded University of the Year (Educate North Awards 2021) ranked Best University Workplace (Times Higher Education 2015), judged Best UK Employer (European Business Awards 2016) and highly commended in Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2017 for Workplace of the Year. Based on an award-winning campus in West Lancashire, Edge Hill University offers a stimulating and empowering environment for ambitious and high performing professionals.


You must be passionate about working with academic researchers, colleagues at RLCares and their partners, and other community-based organisations whose shared vision is to undertake life-saving, and life-changing, work underpinned by evidence-based policy and practice.This studentship is open to both Home and EU applications under the EU Settlement Scheme settled status.

Applicants should have at least as 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline. It is expected that applicants provide evidence regarding English language proficiency at the point of application.

To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet 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 in or enter.

Application information

Closing date: 09 February 2022Applications received after this date cannot be considered.

Fixed interview date: 04 March 2022

The successful applicant must be able to start in October 2022

How to submit your application

To submit your application:

Please complete the application form online and download a copy when prompted to do so.

  • Once you have done this, please send the following items in one email to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference 001/RUC/OCT22 and the project title, in the subject of the email:a download of your application form;
  • a 2,000 word research proposal (excluding references) outlining how you plan to undertake the research;
  • a full academic CV;
  • a copy of your qualification certificates and passport
  • EU applications must provide a copy of a one of the accepted English language tests at the point of application. Accepted tests, and exemptions, can be found here.

Applications that have not included the above information will be classed as incomplete and, therefore, ineligible for shortlisting.

Edge Hill University is keen to encourage a wide range of applicants from different backgrounds and particularly welcome applications from students currently underrepresented in postgraduate student cohorts.

Contact us

If you are interested in applying, you are welcome to contact Professor Andy Smith for an informal discussion about this opportunity ([Email Address Removed]), Department of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University.

Funding Notes

There is 1 PhD studentship available to start in October 2022. The successful applicant must be able to study full-time.
The studentship is open to appropriately qualified graduates and includes the following benefits:
- Fee waiver for 3 years (fee information can be found here:
- Stipend reflective of the UKRI rate (2021/22 is £15,509 per annum)
The studentship is to be undertaken on a full-time basis to applicants with UK resident status or EU students with EU Settlement Scheme settled status.
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