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PhD, MPhil, MRes Physical activity and health

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Research opportunities

Our research is focused on the development and testing of interventions that encourage people to participate in more physical activity and less sedentary behaviour throughout life.

We accept applications for postgraduate research study at any point throughout the year.

You can study an MPhil/ MRes over one year or a PhD over the course of three years, or part-time equivalents.

PhD involves at least three years of independent research study supported by a number of members of academic staff. You'll complete a minimum of 60 credits of the Postgraduate Certificate in Research development programme (PgCert RPD) over the course of your PhD studies.

MPhil involves at least one year of independent research study with academic supervision. As part of your MPhil, you'll participate in the PgCert RPD and will complete a minimum of 20 credits over the course of your studies.

MRes involves a minimum of 20 credits of taught element and 160 credits of independent research study supported by members of the academic research team.   

You can study these degrees in any of our research areas.

Physical activity and health

Physical activity and public health

Our research on physical activity and public health is focused on improving population health across the lifecourse and across the globe. This includes improving the monitoring of physical activity and the other movement behaviours (sedentary behaviour including screen time and sleep), improving policy on the movement behaviours, developing a better understanding of how the movement behaviours influence population health, and the development and testing of population health interventions to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Research supervision is available in the following topics:

  • Public health surveillance of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep
  • Evaluation of physical activity and sedentary behaviour policy
  • Behavioural epidemiology of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep across the lifecourse
  • Development and evaluation of population-based interventions aimed at improving levels of the movement behaviours
  • Longitudinal studies of the movement behaviours

Obesity and public health

Our research on obesity and public health is focused on prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes across the lifecourse and across the globe. This includes improving monitoring and surveillance, policy, definitions and diagnosis, developing a better understanding of the aetiology of obesity and the health consequences of obesity and diabetes, and the development and evaluation of interventions.

Research supervision is available in the following topics:

  • Improving diagnosis and definition of obesity in clinical practice and public health
  • Novel and emerging health consequences of obesity or diabetes
  • Obesity contributions to the global crisis of non-communicable diseases including cancer
  • Development and evaluation of interventions to prevent and treat obesity or diabetes
  • Aetiology of obesity and/or diabetes
  • Development of the obesity pandemic in low-and-middle-income countries
  • Development of the diabetes pandemic in low-and-middle-income countries

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Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

  • EU Engagement Scholarships are available to EU applicants who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status
View all our scholarships
Mhairi Patience competing in an event.
My supervisors have been great from day one and have highlighted various opportunities for professional and personal development.
Mhairi Patience
PhD student
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless otherwise stated.

Entrants may be subject to a small fee during the writing up period.

We're delighted to offer all NHS staff a 25% discount on tuition fees.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Scotland
  • 2024/25: TBC
  • 2023/24: £4,712
England, Wales & Northern Ireland
  • 2024/25: TBC
  • 2023/24: £4,712
International

£18,050

Additional costs

Many of our research degrees require bench fees to cover the costs of research (e.g. consumables). The bench fee depends on the nature of the research project and should be discussed and agreed with potential supervisors before applying.

Course materials

Printing is provided free in the Graduate School.

Most books can be borrowed from the library or by inter-library loan. Students may decide to buy a limited number of key text which they may be able to purchase second hand. Students in years one and two may spend £150-£200. Years three and four are writing years, so less so.

Placements & field trips

When required, from £50 to £300 per year, though some assistance is provided from the Faculty's Research Support Fund.

International students

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Other costs

  • thesis binding - approx. £30
  • pen drives - approx. £20
  • depending on access to labs and equipment required - bench fees of up to £5,000 p.a. may be charged
Postgraduate research opportunities

Search for all funded and non-funded postgraduate research opportunities. If your suggested project has a digital health and care element you might be eligible for the Digital Health & Care Institute academic scholarships.

Funding

Take a look at our funding your postgraduate research web page for funding information.

You can also view our scholarships search for further funding opportunities.

The Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences is offering a fee reduction (up to 25%) for applicants to the MRes Physical Activity and Health degree programme who are working at one of our NHS strategic partner organisations.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

Postgraduate research at the Strathclyde Doctoral School

The Strathclyde Doctoral School provides a vibrant and comprehensive student-centred research and training environment in order to grow and support current and future research talent.

The School encompasses our four faculties and is committed to enriching the student experience, intensifying research outputs and opportunities, and ensuring training is at the highest level. As a postgraduate researcher, you'll automatically become a member of the Strathclyde Doctoral School.

Find out more about the Doctoral School

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Supervisors

NameAreas of expertise
Deirdre Harrington
  • physical activity and health (obesity, type 2 diabetes) interventions (development, delivery and evaluation) in schools, families and low resource settings 
  • the outsourcing of PE, physical activity and health promotion in schools 
  • transport behaviours - sustainable transport (walk, cycle, public transport) behaviours, attitudes, benefits for the individual and cities
Adrienne Hughes 
  • development and testing of health behaviour change interventions across the lifespan including pregnant/postnatal women and young children, and promoting active play in children
  • measurement/surveillance of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health outcomes in children and adolescents
  • patterns of physical activity and growth, and their influence on health outcomes in childhood and adolescence 
Alison Kirk 
  • physical activity and sedentary behaviour and behaviour change in individuals with diabetes (type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes)
  • physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preventions and management of Non Communicable Disease (NCD)     
  • Integration of digital technology to support behaviour change 
  • Development and evaluation of interventions to support active lifestyles 
Fiona Muirhead 
  • physical activity, dietary patterns and lifestyle interventions for youth and adults with special needs
  • physical activity and health behaviour interventions
  • Digital interventions for the management of chronic pain 
  • Digital interventions for increasing physical activity in adults with intellectual disabilities
John Reilly
  • physical activity & sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents
  • childhood obesity: aetiology, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, consequences
  • objective measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • physical activity and childhood obesity in low-middle-income countries

Katy Weston

  • high-intensity interval exercise training interventions in community settings (e.g. schools and workplaces)
  • physical fitness monitoring and surveillance in children and adolescent
  • use of physical activity and exercise in the prevention, treatment and management of non-communicable diseases
  • physical activity & sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents 

 

Caera Grady, MRes in Physical Activity for Health
I have been extremely lucky to get a supervisor who has gone the extra mile to make me feel welcome into the Physical Activity and Health department. She has so much knowledge and experience with research and has reassured me and given me a sense of confidence in studying in a new area.
Caera Grady
MRes in Physical Activity and Health
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Support & development

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is a friendly and supportive study environment for research students studying subjects within Humanities & Social Sciences.

Our staff will support you through your studies and you'll become part of a community of students who get involved with our workshops, seminars and competitions.

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PgCert RPD)

Our PgCert RPD programme aims to ensure you get the most out of your current research activities at Strathclyde and helps you prepare for your future career as a researcher.

We'll help you recognise and develop your transferrable skills that'll have a positive impact on your research, now and in the future.

Careers

The University Careers Service can help you with everything from writing your CV to interview preparation. Take a look at our careers service pages to get more information.

Student support

From financial advice to our IT facilities, we have a wide range of support for all students here at Strathclyde. Get all the information you need at Strathlife.

Our research

Our research is focused on the development and testing of interventions that encourage people to participate in more physical activity and less sedentary behaviour across the lifespan.

The main focus of our research is to develop, evaluate and implement interventions that encourage people to do more physical activity and less sedentary behaviour across the lifespan. In line with WHO recommendations our research is targeted at prevention and management of chronic disease.

Find out more about our research

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International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

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Apply

Entry requirements

You require to have a first-class or upper second-class UK Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in a related discipline.

Before you apply

We strongly advise you contact one or more potential supervisors or the Postgraduate Research Director, Dr Louise A. Brown Nicholls (hass-psh-pgr@strath.ac.uk), before completing the online application. Please click on the ‘Supervisors’ tab above for further information.

The application

During the application you'll be asked for the following:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if English isn't your first language
  • two references, one of which must be academic
  • funding or scholarship information
  • research proposal of 250 to 1,000 words in length, detailing the subject area and topic to be investigated

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.

Supervisors

You'll need to identify your research supervisor before you finalise your application, preferably as soon as possible. When you've identified a potential supervisor, based on how well your research interests match theirs, drop them an email to introduce yourself. In the email, make sure you attach a draft of your research proposal along with a copy of your CV. Don't worry about how rough your research proposal may be at this stage – you'll have help from our School of Psychological Sciences and Health to refine it.

If your chosen supervisor if available to work with you, they'll confirm this and nominate a potential second supervisor. As soon as a second supervisor is confirmed, an offer of study will be sent to you through Pegasus, our online application system.

When you accept our offer, you'll receive a full offer in writing via the email address you provide.

Accepting an offer

When you've accepted our offer, we'll need you to fulfil any academic, administrative or financial conditions that we ask.

UK or EU students

If you're applying as a UK or EU student, you'll then be issued with your registration documentation.

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Obesity and Public Health

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Obesity and Public Health

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

MPhil
full-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

MPhil
full-time
Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Start date: Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

MRes
full-time
Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

PhD
part-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

PhD
part-time
Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Start date: Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

MRes
part-time
Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

MRes
full-time
Start date: Sep 2025

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Physical Activity and Health

MPhil
part-time
Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

MPhil
part-time
Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

Start date: Sep 2025

Physical Activity and Health

MRes
part-time
Start date: Sep 2025

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Contact us

Humanities & Social Sciences Graduate School

Telephone: +44 (0)141 548 8400

Email: hass-postgrad@strath.ac.uk

Lord Hope Building, Level 1
141 St James Road
Glasgow
G1 0LT

Professor John J Reilly

Email: john.j.reilly@strath.ac.uk

Dr Alison Kirk

Alison.kirk@strath.ac.uk