Faculty of Health Sciences

Sport, Health and Exercise Science research degrees

Postgraduate - Research

MSc by Thesis PhD

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About our programmes

Research in Sport, Health and Exercise Science aims to enhance understanding of practices and processes that support the active lifestyles, health, well-being, sporting performance and coaching practices of individuals and groups. We have world-class staff and facilities, and we collaborate with world leading clinical and scientific researchers.  

There are two research groups;

  • Exercise, Health and Human Performance (EHHP)
  • Sport, Pedagogy and Practice (SPP)

The EHHP group have medicine as an underlying theme and seek to understand the role and implementation of exercise testing for disease risk; the effectiveness of life-style interventions involving physical activity; and responses and adaptations to exercise and sport. The SPP group research seeks to develop innovative research that explores the complex and multi-layered nature of applied coaching practice, as well as the challenging nature of personal experiences within sport and exercise.

There are postgraduate research options in Sport, Health and Exercise Science, at PhD and MSc by Thesis levels. During a four-year PhD (seven years part-time), you will research and write a dissertation of 70,000 to 100,000 words on a topic chosen in conjunction with your supervisor. During a one-year MSc by Thesis degree (two years part-time), the main emphasis is on the research dissertation of 20,000 words. The topic is chosen by you with the advice of your supervisor. The MSc is an ideal step for those wishing to progress to a PhD.

Apply for research programmes in Sport, Health and Exercise Science


Open for admission in 2024/25

Qualification Full time Part time
MSc by Thesis 1 year* 2 years*
PhD 3 years* 5 years*

* The length of programme registration will be longer as it includes the maximum writing-up phase.

Start in January, May or September


Exercise, Health and Human Performance (EHHP)

The research carried out by the EHHP group examines a broad range of topics related to the physiological, biomechanical and nutritional aspects of exercise, health and human performance. The research undertaken by this group focuses on four sub-themes:

  • Exercise epidemiology and meta-analysis
  • Clinical exercise testing and exercise training interventions
  • Biomolecular and nutritional aspects of exercise physiology and health
  • Monitoring and evaluation of elite sports performance


Sport, Pedagogy and Practice (SPP)

The over-reaching aim of the SPP group is to assess and influence coach and athlete well-being.

The research carried out by the SPP group examines psychological constructs among athletes (stress, coping, emotions, and morality) and coaches (coach behaviour and the coach-athlete relationship) in addition to the social-pedagogical complexities of coaching practice.

The research group uses a mixture of qualitative research methods, such as interviews and diaries, and quantitative research methods, such as structural equation modelling. It conducts investigations that are principally informed by the concepts and theories that have been taken from the academic disciplines of sociology, psychology, and education.

The SPP group works and collaborates with leading sporting teams and professional bodies. These include:

  • Rugby Football Union
  • Rugby Football League
  • F.A. Premier League
  • Newcastle Knights RFL
  • Hong Kong Rugby Union
  • New Zealand Rugby League
  • Raleigh GAC
  • Leeds Carnegie RFU
  • Hull City FC
  • Hull Kingston Rovers

Research themes

Stress, emotions, and coping

The purpose of this research is to identify the stressors encountered by athletes such as professional rugby union players or international adolescent golfers, how athletes evaluate these stressors, how it makes them feel, and what they do to cope. This research helps test existing theoretical models and provides guidelines for sport psychologists to improve how they teach athletes to manage stress.

Doping attitudes among adolescent athletes

Doping refers to athletes using banned substances and doping methods to improve their performance. Members of the research group are particularly interested in adolescents’ attitudes towards doping because it is during this time that attitudes are formed. By shaping adolescent athletes’ attitudes towards doping, there is a greater likelihood of reducing doping when the athletes become adult competitors.


Morality refers to whether athletes will cheat or not. Researchers from the SPP group examine the factors that influence whether athletes will cheat or play by the rules.

Performance analysis

In order to gain a competitive edge over rivals, many sports teams now use performance analysts to identify weaknesses in their own play and their competitors. The effects of such analyses on players’ and coaches’ are relatively under-studied. Researchers from the SPP group examine player and coach experiences of delivering and receiving performance analysis, with a view to developing the use of this tool.

Coach behaviour

The way in which a coach interacts and behaves around athletes can impact on athletes’ performance and their well-being. Researchers from the SPP group explore how coaches behaviour, the impact of such behaviour, and provide recommendations for improving coaching behaviour.


‘‘The work we’re doing and the University’s strong industry links means we are actively helping to improve patient care."

Simon Nichol, PhD in Cardiac Rehabilitation (Exercise Physiology)

Fees and funding


Full time:
£4,712 per year

Part time: £2,356 per year


Full time:
£18,650 per year

These fees are for all research degree programmes on this page. For courses lasting more than one year, annual increases apply. For more information, please visit the fees and funding page. 

Postgraduate research programme structures


  • Full-time: 3 years of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 5 years of research, with up to 20 months of writing up if required


  • Full-time: one year of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 2 years of research, with up to 24 months of writing up if required

Writing-up and thesis submission

A standard full-time PhD programme comprised three years of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up. Part-time is five years plus up to 20 months writing-up if needed. Full-time standard Masters programmes are comprised one year of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up if needed; and part time Masters programmes have two years of research with up to two years of writing-up.

For full-time students, the writing-up phase typically takes about three months but may be extended to one year without further paperwork. For part-time students, writing-up typically takes one year, but may be extended to two years without further paperwork. The maximum writing-up period is included in your overall programme length, which means that international PGRs will not need to apply for an additional visa to cover the writing-up phase.

If you need to move into the writing-up period of your research degree, you must enrol for this phase and you will be liable to pay a continuation fee.

The fees for the writing-up period for 2023/24 are:

Full time

  • Writing-up fee £345
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Part time

  • Continuation Fee £170
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Thesis submission timelines

It is expected that you will submit your thesis within the timeframes outlined below:

Masters degrees

  • Submission by one year and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 2 years and 6 months part-time.

Doctoral degrees

  • Submission by 3 years and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 5 years and 6 months for part-time.

Doctoral Loan

UK students who haven’t secured a scholarship can take out a Doctoral Loan to help with tuition fees and living costs. They provide up to £29,390 for full-time and part-time PhDs in all subject areas.

EU students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance. Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Additional costs

There are some extra costs that you may have to pay, or choose to pay, depending on your programme of study and the decisions you make. The list below has some examples, and any extra costs will vary:

  • Student visas (international students).
  • Books (you’ll have access to many books through the University library, but you may want to buy your own copies).
  • Optional conference/field/archive/library trips (Faculties support some travel and conference attendance financially. Details vary. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Laptop (you’ll have access to laptops and PCs on campus, but you may want to buy your own).
  • Printing and photocopying (There is a printing allowance in place for all students, currently £20 a year. Some Faculties grant PGR students access to printing and photocopying as staff. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Professional-body membership.
  • Graduation (gown hire and photography).

Remember, you’ll still need to take into account your living costs. This could include accommodation, travel and food – to name just a few.

For information about bursaries and how to fund your studies see our money page, or take a look at our PhD scholarships page for specific funded PhD opportunities.

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull.

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

Explore our Postgraduate Training Scheme

The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help.

Discover the Library

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

Explore our Doctoral College

Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain to slavery.

Discover our Research

Entry requirements

You should normally have, or expect to obtain, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a related discipline appropriate to your intended research.

Please contact your prospective supervisor in the first instance. Once a member of staff has agreed to supervise your research project in principle, please make a formal application.

International students

If you require a student visa to study or if your first language is not English you will be required to provide acceptable evidence of your English language proficiency level.

  • For 2024 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in each competency.
  • For 2025 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in each competency.

See other English language proficiency qualifications accepted by this University.

If your English currently does not reach the University's required standard for this programme, you may be interested in one of our English language courses.

Visit your country page to find out more about our entry requirements.