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Sport and Exercise Sciences: Fully funded Swansea University and Millfield School PhD Scholarship: Optimising sport-specific training practices for youth athlete development in football

   School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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  Dr R Metcalfe  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Funding provider: Swansea University and Millfield School

Subject areas: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Performance Science, Strength and Conditioning, Youth Development

Project start date: 

  • 1 January 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-December)


Aligned programme of study: PhD in Sport and Exercise Science

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description:

Designing training practices that provide an age and playing level appropriate, engaging bio-psycho-physical stimulus is central to the successful development and retention of youth talent and long-term retention in sport. Despite the importance of practice design, and the considerable hours invested by players and coaches in the implementation of such practices, little is known about the relative effectiveness of different practices for developing youth talent. This collaborative PhD will examine the bio-psycho-social responses to typical practice designs and their long-term implications for the development of physical characteristics, technical execution and decision-making in youth football. The PhD will comprise three themes: 

  1. Development of a library of practices classified according to bio-psycho-social responses and their translation to the longer-term development of technical execution, decision-making, and game-related performance in youth footballers.
  2. Design and validation of a series of bio-psycho-social measures that are sufficiently sensitive and reliable to quantify responses to the practices identified.
  3. Implementation of a series of training practice interventions to assess their real-world effectiveness on youth athlete Each intervention will involve an 8–10 week training period (36-40 practices) and include multiple competitive games (10-12) to allow the development of technical execution and decision making to be monitored.

In summary, this PhD seeks to systematically understand the impact of modern coaching practices on long term development in youth football. It is expected that the tools and knowledge generated through this PhD will significantly advance an under-developed area of research, and have significant impacts on training practice and policies in youth talent development academies across sports on a national and international scale.

Other Important Information: 

  • The successful candidate will be based at Millfield School for the majority of the PhD, but will also be expected to spend blocks of time at Swansea University for academic training/development purposes.
  • There will be support to work towards formal coaching qualifications up to UEFA B as part of the programme.
  • Millfield School can offer accommodation and food on site during term times depending on availability.


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Sports Science or similar relevant science discipline. See - Country-specific Information for European Applicants 2019 and Country-specific Information for International Applicants 2019.

Other desirable skills/experience include:

  • Evidence of managing a high quality research project with human participants to completion at either undergraduate or MSc level
  • Experience working with youth athletes
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work independently and as part of a small research team
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Experience with handling complex datasets and performing appropriate statistical analysis
  • Ability to think critically and apply well-reasoned and evidence-based solutions to problems that are encountered.

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. Details on the Swansea University English Language entry policy can be found here.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £16,062.
Additional research expenses will also be available.

Open days

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