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Sport volunteering across the life course: how is volunteering in sport developed and sustained? (Ref: SF20/SER/FINDLAYKING)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr L Findlay-King Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The aim of this studentship will be to examine sport volunteering across the life course and consider how volunteering and motivation at different times can be best explained. Are individuals motivated extrinsically in response to promoted benefits, or intrinsically by values and moral obligations (Nichols, 2019)? Do values inculcated by volunteering provide the motivation to continue volunteering? How does volunteering change across time and in relation to life events? Are some individuals more resistant to changes in circumstances which would deter others from continued volunteering? Do individuals form, or draw upon a type of sport volunteering capital which aids the continuation of this activity? Often a link between sport participation and subsequent sport volunteering is assumed but there has been insufficient examination of such a connection.

The need to find a different way to explain sport volunteering behaviour is important, as UK sport volunteering levels remain worryingly static (Reid & Findlay-King, 2019). This study will take a qualitative life course approach (e.g. Hardhill & Baines, 2007; Brodie at al., 2011; Hogg, 2016) as a better way to understand sport volunteering as lived experience. After all ‘Volunteering needs to be understood as taking part in a lifelong process rather than studied at a single point in time’ (Rochester, 2018, p.11). It is anticipated that the study will be theoretically framed by examining the role of various capitals in understanding volunteering. This could include exploring how the concept of Sporting Capital (Rowe, 2015) might help us appreciate how individuals adapt to changes for example, in paid work, family commitments and location; by continuing to take part in sport, but in different forms?

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.

any enquiries to Dr Lindsay Findlay-King ([Email Address Removed])

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 . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


Reid, F. and Findlay-King, L. (2019). United Kingdom. In K. Hallmann & S. Fairley (Eds.) Sport Volunteers around the globe: meaning and understanding of volunteering and its societal impact. (pp.279-290). Switzerland: Springer
Findlay-King L., Nichols G., Forbes D. & Macfadyen G. (2018) Watching the pennies and the people – how volunteer-led sport facilities have transformed services for local communities, Managing Sport and Leisure, 23:4-6, 277-292, doi: 10.1080/23750472.2018.1550369
Findlay-King L., Nichols G., Forbes D. and Macfadyen G. (2018) Little leisure centres and libraries in the Big Society: fighting closures or empowering communities as an alternative to the state?, Leisure Studies, 37:2, 158-170, doi: 10.1080/02614367.2017.1285954

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