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Quantifying the technical actions within male academy training and match-play


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

5 December 2021, 17:00

About this project

The aim of the research thesis will be to further the understanding of the technical and tactical demands of academy football training and match-play, with specific reference to the youth development phase (YDP). While there is a plethora of research using wearable technology to quantify the physical demands of the YDP players, limited knowledge or insights are available to examine the technical outcomes using objectively derived data outputs. In partnership with the City Football Group (CFG)/Manchester City academy (MCFC), a series of studies will be completed by the student, who will be embedded full-time within the Manchester City academy.

The studentship will cover projects that observe the different training and match-play demands across the YPD age groups, whilst exploring the progression of players throughout the academy. The objective of this studentship is to help inform the practices of a multi-disciplinary team, whilst embedded as part of the performance analysis department.

About the Role

Alongside the research undertaken for a PhD, the student will gain experience of working within a professional football environment. The studentship will be based at Manchester City AFC for the first two years with the final year completed at the University.

The tasks undertaken by the student will include supporting the performance analysis department to ensure coaching staff and players are provided with an excellent service. This includes: attending all meetings when appropriate, working closely with support staff to ensure all Sport Science & Medicine aspects of player reviews are completed to the relevant standard. Attending and delivering (when appropriate and based on expertise) CPD sessions as and when required by senior club staff.

About the research group

Dr Christopher Towlson (internal supervisor) is a British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) accredited sport scientist and lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance Science. Research expertise include growth, maturation, and talent identification of academy soccer players. Specifically investigating the influence of maturity status on the technical, tactical, physical, and psycho-social characteristics of players during match-play.

Dr John Toner (internal supervisor) is a lecturer in sports coaching and performance science whose research interests include exploring how skilled performers achieve continuous improvement. Dr Toner has worked as a researcher for Sports Coach UK, a national organisation dedicated to supporting the training and development of sports coaches, before joining the University of Hull.

Dr Steve Barrett (external supervisor) is a British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) accredited sport scientist and is the Director of Sport Science and Innovation at Playermaker. Dr Barrett contributes to leading and developing a global department which encompasses Sport Science, Performance Analysis, Research and Coaching (SPARC).

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant / stipend for three years, which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 21/22 is £4500 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £15609.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship.

If you need to move into a fourth year to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good first degree (1st class/2:1) in Sports Science, Sports Coaching, Performance Analysis or within another related discipline. Experience of working in an elite sport environment and using video analysis platforms is essential. Desirables include experience of using foot mounted inertial movement units. Candidates should have, excellent interpersonal skills (oral and written), work well within a team, ability to work independently, be willing to work at unsociable hours and an enquiring mind to further explore solutions to the performance questions raised throughout the project.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time study only and priority will be given to candidates who have not already obtained a PhD.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a home fee waiver only.

How to apply

Apply for the scholarship.

Closing date for applications: Sunday 5 December 2021

Academic Interview: Monday 13 December (09.00-17.00) at University of Hull

Practical Interview: Friday 17 December (09.00 - 17.00) at Manchester City Academy