Process Evaluation of South Tees Local Delivery Pilot

   Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre

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  Dr D Broom, Dr K Shearn, Dr Sonia Dalkin  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science
PhD Research Studentship (full-time for 3 years)
Stipend: £14,777 per annum

Location: Middlesbrough
Hours: Full time

A three-year PhD studentship is available to UK, EU and International students. The studentship covers home/EU tuition fees, stipend equivalent to full UK Research Council rate and research expenses. International students will need to cover the tuition fee shortfall of approx. £8200 per year.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough council has secured funding from Sport England to deliver one of twelve national Local Delivery Pilots (LDP) in the South Tees region. The aim of the South Tees LDP is to increase physical activity in the underrepresented groups as well as increase the utilisation of outdoor spaces. Sheffield Hallam University has been selected as the evaluation partner for this project to be undertaken as part of a programme of research for a PhD.

Due to the complex nature of the LDP, ’realist evaluation’ is an appropriate methodology. Realist approaches are particularly focused on uncovering causal processes and the contexts in which they operate, rather than simply observing outcomes. The primary aim of the PhD is to undertake a process realist evaluation that gathers evidence and ideas about what works (or doesn’t) to deliver a change in culture, practices and processes to encourage engagement in sport and physical activity, in South Tees. The PhD will specifically be focused at the strategic and organisational level to understand what enable the LDPs to work (or not), for whom and in which circumstances. This evidence will allow South Tees to not only ‘record the journey’ but has the potential to learn iteratively and adapt processes. The work is high profile and will be feeding into the national evaluation being undertaken by Sport England.

This PhD provides an exciting opportunity to work with one of the UK’s leading Universities for undertaking applied work in the field of physical activity evaluation. There will be opportunities to work with key local stakeholders as part of your study and there is an expectation that you will be housed in the Middlesbrough area.

Compulsory training will be provided and there will be an opportunity to gain teaching experience if you are interested in developing an academic career beyond your PhD.

Successful applicants will possess all of the attributes listed below:

• Hold a good undergraduate degree (2:1 or higher) in a relevant field of social science e.g. sport and exercise science, physical activity and health or psychology.
• Hold an MSc in a relevant area or have equivalent professional research experience.
• For international candidates you will have a strong proficiency in English (IELTS minimum overall score of 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component).

The successful candidate will have excellent interpersonal skills and confidence in communication. You will have experience in literature searching and reviewing, quantitative and qualitative analysis and report writing. Desirable attributes would include professional or research experience in evaluating complex interventions.

Funding Notes

Candidates should apply to SHU via the University application form, including a 1500 word research proposal demonstrating your background reading on the topic of the PhD and your plans for how you would undertake this programme of research.

Completed application forms sent to [Email Address Removed]

Application forms can be downloaded at:

For project enquiries contact [Email Address Removed]

Key Dates:
• Application deadline - 5pm Monday 18 March 2019
• Interview - Monday 1st April
• Studentship to begin in May 2019


Emmel N, Greenhalgh J, Manzano A, Monaghan M and Dalkin S. Doing Realist Research. London, UK: Sage; 2018.

Fletcher A, Jamal F, Moore G, Evans RE, Murphy S, Bonell C. Realist complex intervention science: Applying realist principles across all phases of the Medical Research Council framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions. Evaluation. 2016;22(3):286–303.

Moore G, Audrey S, Barker M, Bond L, Bonell C, Hardeman W, et al. Process evaluation of complex interventions. UK Med Res Counc Guid [Internet]. 2014;19-45-75. Available from:

Shearn K, Allmark P, Piercy H, Hirst J. Building Realist Program Theory for Large Complex and Messy Interventions. Int J Qual Methods [Internet]. 2017;16(1):160940691774179. Available from:

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