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Physical Education and the Primary-Secondary Transition

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr J Stirrup, Dr C Mason  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


The aim of this research is to explore vulnerable young people’s experiences of transition from primary to secondary school focusing on the impact PE can have on their well-being and school experience. Growing recognition of the negative impact of the global pandemic on young people’s mental health makes this research particularly timely.

Within the literature, there is an acknowledgement that some young people are more vulnerable than others in relation to transition (Anderson et al, 2000). However, much of the literature around these specific populations, comes from outside of the UK.

Therefore, it is important we develop our understanding of these vulnerable/marginalised young people within the UK education system and particularly as they transition from primary to secondary education, given the potential impact this can have on future academic success, health and well-being. This project seeks to address the gap in the UK literature by exploring the impact of transition for vulnerable young people in terms of their formal and informal learning and well-being in PE.

The project will adopt a qualitative case study methodology. Data collection will take place in secondary schools. To access the voice of vulnerable young people, the following characteristics will be considered when selecting schools and pupils: gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status/free school meals, SEND. Innovative and novel participatory research methods will be utilised to aid the researcher in accessing pupil voice.


Primary supervisor: Dr Julie Stirrup

Secondary supervisor: Dr Carolynne Mason


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants will need to hold, or expect to gain, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in Sport and Exercise Science, Sport, Physical Education and Coaching or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the above subjects will be an advantage. Experience of work within a school setting is desirable.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select ‘Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences’. Please quote reference number: SSEHS/JS.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK Fee - £4,500 full time degree per annum
International Fee - £24,100 full time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
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