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Durham University

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate researchers play a vital role within our academic community. We supervise PhD, Phil and Masters by Research programmes, and the inter-disciplinary nature of the department is reflected in the varied research projects undertaken.

Our programmes include:

  • MA by Research (programme code B6A107)
  • MSc by Research (programme code B6A109)
  • PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences (programme code B6A101)

Our postgraduates work in and across disciplines including: sociology, psychology, physiology, nutrition, and political sciences. Projects explore sport, exercise, and physical-activity, spanning theory, policy and practice.
Together, we seek to understand how sport and physical activity relate to wellbeing, health, and a just and fair society. Student funding comes from a variety of sources, with a number of our students being recipients of research council funding (ESRC, AHRC) and NIHR scholarships.


Leading postgraduate research

The quality of our postgraduate research students is reflected in international recognition. For example, Alex Hodge for the European Federation of Sport Psychology and British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Student Free Communication Award (2017) and Sarah Metcalfe for the European Association for Sociology of Sport’s Young Researcher Award (2018). A list of all current students, their research, and supervisors is available here.

Within the department, the expertise of academic staff means that supervision for all postgraduate programmes is outstanding. Students play a full part in our thematic research groups, and supervisors are supportive and approachable whilst simultaneously challenging their students to become world-leading researchers in their field.


Further opportunities for development

As a postgraduate student at Durham, there are many other opportunities to get involved with the Department and wider University. These include teaching on modules for undergraduate students, leading Durham University Summer Schools, participating in larger research projects, and engaging in university outreach programmes.

These opportunities develop many skills, including communicating with a wide variety of audiences, research data analysis, teaching, learning and pedagogical approaches, project planning and organisation. Within the wider Faculty of Social Sciences and Health, students build research networks with other likeminded students across the university and beyond, for example through planning and running interdisciplinary conferences.

Case Studies

Graduating with a Durham research degree has enabled our students to go on to make waves in the world of sport and exercise. Click on the following profile pictures to read about the research and careers of two of our PhD graduates.

Dr Colm Hickey

Chargé de Projet UEFA Certificate in Football Management & Research Associate

Colm graduated from Durham University in 2015, having completed a PhD entitled: ‘Performing off the Pitch: An investigation of identity management strategies of professional footballers as part of their career transition from the Premier League’. Through his time at Durham, Colm was also involved in the design, management and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate degree modules. He is a former elite basketball player and represented Ireland internationally.

Building on his experience, Colm progressed to working for the University of Lausanne where he is now responsible for coordinating the UEFA Certificate in Football Management in partnership with UEFA. Colm’s responsibilities include the organisation and delivery of this course, as well as the Diploma in Football Management and Leadership across UEFA's 55 member Football Associations.

Dr Kate Baker

Head of Player Insights, Football Association

Kate started at Durham as an undergraduate sport and exercise student achieving a first class honours degree. Subsequently, she went on to complete a PhD at Durham entitled: ‘An ethnographic enquiry into the use of sports science and technologies in professional rugby’, which involved examining 'sport science in action' in two professional rugby teams over the course of 12 months.

Her interests and PhD research on the integral part of sport science and medicine in the high performance sports landscape enabled Kate to graduate into her first job working with Saracens Rugby Football Club. Subsequently, Kate has moved to a number of roles with the English Institute of Sport, her final role being Head of Performance Pathways. Kate now works for The FA as Head of Player Insights, a position which focuses on the development of football talent in England.