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Physical activity & mental health in adolescents from socio-economically disadvantaged black and minority ethnic and refugee communities

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

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Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten , Dr S Williams No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

ESRC DTP Collaborative Studentship

University of Birmingham and Birmingham Education Partnership

The Midlands Graduate School is an accredited Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). One of 14 such partnerships in the UK, the Midlands Graduate School is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, Aston University, University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University of Nottingham.

University of Birmingham is now inviting applications for an ESRC Doctoral Studentship in association with our collaborative partner Birmingham Education Partnership to commence in October 2021.

Mental health has never been more prevalent in adolescents, with stress a leading cause of poor mental health. Adolescents from ethnic minorities and/or low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to experience increased stress and mental health problems, but are often under-represented in mental health services. This was confirmed in recent work conducted by Birmingham Education Partnership in South Asian young people. Regular physical activity can improve mental health in adolescents. However, 81% of school going adolescents are thought to be insufficiently physically active. In addition, physical activity interventions are often not effective in socio-economically disadvantaged young people. Consequently, this community-based project aims to develop a physical activity intervention for adolescents from socio-economically disadvantaged Black and Minority Ethnic and Refugee communities to improve mental health by enhancing more adaptive coping with stress. This collaborative project integrates the expertise of the Birmingham Education Partnership in community-based projects related to mental health interventions for South Asian young people, with the expertise of the University of Birmingham in designing and implementing physical activity interventions to regulate stress and enhance mental health. The student will receive extensive training from both partners to deliver this collaborative project.

We are looking for a highly talented and dedicated PhD student with a 1st class or 2:1 degree in the field of sport psychology/exercise sciences/public health/or similar subject. Previous experience analysing databases and delivering interventions are desirable. Experience working with minority groups, adolescents or young people, and conducting field-based work is also favourable. An awareness and appreciation of different cultures is essential. The candidate will need to work well both independently and as part of a team, have excellent communication skills, proficient knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods, and possess an ability to learn research skills quickly and efficiently.

Application Process

To be considered for this PhD, please complete the Collaborative Studentship application form available online here Please email this application form, together with a cover letter and your CV to Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten via email: [Email Address Removed]. Shortlisted applicants will also be required to provide two references.


Application deadline: Monday March 1, 5pm.

Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP

Our ESRC studentships cover fees at the home rate, a maintenance stipend, and extensive support for research training, as well as research activity support grants. Support is available to both home and international applicants. For further details, visit:

Informal enquiries about the research or the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham prior to application can be directed to Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr Sarah Williams ([Email Address Removed]). 

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