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The role of personal ethics in athlete and stakeholder perceptions of anti-doping

  • Full or part time
    Dr J Mills
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

What is offered?

The School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences is offering a fully-funded studentship with an annual stipend of £13,500 plus Home/EU tuition fees, for a maximum of 36 months.

What is the project?

This prestigious World Anti-Doping Agency project provides a fully-funded studentship to examine the role of personal ethics in athlete and stakeholder perceptions of anti-doping. After exploring the life-histories of known and unknown IPED users and examining the moral mechanisms that are dominant within individuals, the project will ultimately use this information to develop a bespoke value-based anti-doping training programme that attempts to target an athlete’s core values.

Whilst there has been a great deal of attention focused within the anti-doping literature on moral processes, existing evidence has primarily viewed morality through limited theoretical lenses and heavily influenced by Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory. Unlike moral pluralists such as James (1909/1987), Kohlberg (1971, p. 232) argued that “Virtue is ultimately one, not many [processes], and it is always the same ideal form regardless of climate or culture”. This absolutist view of morality argues that certain acts are inherently right or wrong, however, such a position has been heavily criticised. For example, Gilligan (1982) criticised Kohlberg’s view of moral development and suggested that an ethic of care could not be derived from an ethic of justice. Kohlberg’s theory of moral development has also been criticised for being androgenic (Gilligan, 1977) and for placing too great an emphasis on rational thought (Greene & Haidt, 2002). Haidt and Joseph (2004) have since built upon the theories presented thus far to develop a unified framework for studying morality across cultures (ie, Moral Foundations Theory; MFT). As doping is a global issue and WADA a global organisation, the pluralistic approach to morality encompassed within MFT may help to capture a broader range of culturally sensitive moral processes related to doping than those previously adopted.

Qualitative and quantitative methodologies will be used in the project and an interest in research methods is desirable. Prior knowledge of doping and a background in sport psychology/moral psychology/social psychology or sport and exercise science is also advantageous.

Who is my supervisor?

This studentship is supervised by Dr John Mills () and is situated within our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences at the University of Essex. You’ll also have access to an international network of highly experienced and talented Co-Investigators on this project including: Dr Jordan Axt (Duke University), Dr Ian Boardley (University of Birmingham), Dr Rick O’Gorman (University of Essex), and Dr Zachary Zenko (CSU Bakersfield).

How do I apply?

You should submit a full application for our degree PhD Sport and Exercise Science online ( and include on the application form the title of the studentship under ‘Proposed research topic or area of research’.

Your application must include:
• CV
• covering letter
• 1500-word research proposal
• transcripts of any undergraduate or Masters courses you have completed
• copy of your most recent dissertation

A referee is also required. This should be your most recent dissertation supervisor (academia) or line manager (industry). Your referee will not be contacted until a conditional offer has been made.

What is the deadline?

Applications for this studentship will close on 31 May 2019.

More information

Visit our website to learn more about this opportunity:

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