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  The design, implementation, and evaluation of a hybrid sport nutrition platform to support the development of Scottish youth football players

   School of Applied Sciences

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  Dr James Dugdale, Dr Lesley Ingram-Sills  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

An exciting opportunity for a funded, full-time PhD project is available in the School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University.

The physical and technical demands of soccer have increased over the past decade (Barnes et al., 2014; Bush et al., 2015). These increasing physical and technical demands place a greater emphasis on nutrition education and support to aid preparation, match day performance, and recovery of players, as well as maintaining player health (Collins et al., 2021). A focus on these aspects is particularly important at youth level to embed good habits, ensure maintained growth and development, and facilitate career transition to senior level.

Nutrition education during childhood and adolescence is fundamental to linking a players’ knowledge and habits to the sport specific recommendations coming from coaches and sport and exercise nutrition practitioners. The ability to put that knowledge into practice with cooking skills and appropriate food choices is a challenge at all levels of the game. In addition, the volume and changing nature of sport nutrition evidence can make these choices very complicated, even for sport and exercise nutrition professionals. Therefore, a suitable education programme that can identify best practice approaches to optimize player performance and health and develop practical skills, alongside utilising technology to translate information to this population, would form an important part of player development.

Through a funded PhD studentship between the School of Applied Sciences (Edinburgh Napier University) and Soccer PDP (a hybrid football development platform), this project aims to develop an applied sport nutrition resource for grass roots and amateur football players in Scotland. This project will identify and develop appropriate methods to educate young footballers on good nutrition practice, develop practical cooking skills, and assess the efficacy of commonly available applications for assessing and monitoring energy intake and expenditure. The project intends to evidence a transfer of knowledge to the company (Soccer PDP) via delivery of sport nutrition consultancy and informing the development of a sport nutrition ‘module’ to be created as part of Soccer PDP’s online platform.

Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Sport Nutrition, Sport and Exercise Science, or a similar area with a good fundamental knowledge of sport nutrition.

A postgraduate degree in a relevant area will be advantageous.

 English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:

·       Experience of fundamental knowledge of applied sport nutrition 

·       Competent in delivering applied services to athletic populations (e.g. coaching, scientific support, educational workshops)

·       Knowledge of youth athletes and development across childhood and adolescence

·       Possess good data analytical skills

·       Good written and oral communication skills

·       Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

·       Good time management

 Desirable attributes:

·       Prior experience working with football athletes in an applied environment

·       A relevant professional qualification or in the process of attaining (e.g. BASES, SENr, etc.)



·       Completed application form 

·       CV

·       2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)

·       A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of

·       What you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)

·       Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate) 

Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

This project is fully-funded at the standard Edinburgh Napier studentship rates. Funding will include payment of full-time fees for three academic years, plus 36 monthly stipend payments at the prevailing rate set by the UK Research Councils (2021/22 Stipend rate is £15,609 per year). Interviews will take place during mid-July 2022. Students must be able to commence their studies in October 2022.


Andrews MC, Itsiopoulos C. Room for Improvement in Nutrition Knowledge and Dietary Intake of Male Football (Soccer) Players in Australia. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2016; 26(1).
Collins J, Maughan RJ, Gleeson M, et al. UEFA expert group statement on nutrition in elite football. Current evidence to inform practical recommendations and guide future research. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2021; 55.
Naughton RJ, Drust B, O’Boyle A, Morgans R, Abayomi J, Davies IG, Morton JP, & Mahon E. Daily Distribution of Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat Intake in Elite Youth Academy Soccer Players Over a 7-Day Training Period. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2016; 26 (5).
Patton-Lopez MM, Manore MM, Branscum A, Meng Y, Wong SS. Changes in Sport Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes/Beliefs and Behaviors Following a Two-Year Sport Nutrition Education and Life-Skills Intervention among High School Soccer Players. Nutrients, 2018; 10(11).