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Ready, Set, Go: Promoting and preserving health and wellbeing in children and adolescents (Ref: SF20/SER/HETTINGA1)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

As part of our Child and Adolescent Research Exchange (CARE) initiative, we offer an extensive range of research opportunities in the field of sports, exercise and health. We take a multi-disciplinary approach to unravel mechanisms underpinning health and physical activity behaviours, and the motivation to be active. Our aim is to optimize sport performance as well as improve and preserve health and wellbeing through experimental and interventional studies. Alongside typically-developing children, we have a particular interest in the role that sport and physical activity can play in special populations, such as children and adolescents with physical or learning disabilities.

For this particular project, we will focus on enhancing the well-being and health of children and adolescents of all abilities through sport and physical activity. In particular the concepts of resilience, social behaviour and self-regulation are important for children, and sports can play a role in facilitating the development of these concepts. The project will aim to explore how sport can facilitate the development of these concepts, as well as how social aspects such as playful competition, inclusive approaches, and social facilitation can help to engage kids of all abilities in physical activity.

Keywords: Cognition, executive functioning, behaviour, motivation, adherence, self-regulation, motivation, pacing, resilience, special populations, athletes, psychology, nutrition, psychobiology, neuroscience, EEG, mixed methods.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g., SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: October 2020 or March 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Prof Florentina Hettinga ()

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


S. G.P. Menting, D. Hendry, L. Schiphof-Godart, M.T. Elferink-Gemser, F.J. Hettinga. Perspective: Optimal development of youth athletes towards elite IAAF performance: how to coach drive and motivation to perform, plan training exercise and pace your race. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. 1 (2019) 14. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2019.00014

M. Elferink-Gemser, F.J. Hettinga. Invited Commentary: Pacing and self-regulation: Important for talent development in endurance sport. Int. J. Sports Phys. and Perf. 12(6) (2017) 831-835.

McCullogh, N., Boyle, S.E., Fothergill, M., & Defeyter, M.A. (2019). ‘A really good balance’: Thematic analysis of stakeholders’ views on classroom- and games-based positive choices interventions for primary school children. PLOS ONE, 14(7), e0219503.

Buszard T., Farrow D., Verswijveren S., Reid M., Williams J., Polman R., Ling F.C.M., & Masters R. (2017). Working memory capacity limits motor learning when implementing multiple instructions. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1350. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01350.

Ling, F.C.M., Farrow, A., Farrow, D., Berry, J., Polman, R.C.J. (2016). A children’s perspective on the effectiveness of the Playing for Life philosophy in an afterschool sports program. International Journal of Sport Sciences and Coaching, 11(6), 780-788.

Radel, R., Tempest G.D., & Brisswalter, J. (2018). The long and winding road: Effects of exercise intensity and type upon sustained attention. Physiology & Behavior, 195, 82-89. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.07.028.

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