woman canoeing in loch lomond

PhD, MPhilPhysical activity for health

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 over the course of one year or a PhD over the course of three years.

You can study either option in any of our five research areas:

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD) programme 

As part of your PhD degree, you'll be enrolled on the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD). 

This certificate is designed to support you with your research and rewards you for things you'll do as a research student here.

It'll help you improve skills which are important to professional development and employability:

  • the knowledge & intellectual abilities to conduct your research
  • the personal qualities to succeed in your research & chosen career
  • the standards, requirements & conduct of a professional researcher in your discipline
  • working with others & communicating the impact of your research to a wide range of audiences

All you have to do is plan these activities alongside your doctorate, documenting and reflecting your journey to success along the way.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.


NameAreas of expertise
Ann-Marie Gibson
  • Psychological determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in adolescents
  • Transitions in sport and physical activity
  • Qualitative research methods in sport and physical activity
  • Applied sport psychology 
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 
Xanne Janssen 
  • Measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • Patterns of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and their associations with health outcomes in childhood and adolescents
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour interventions in youth with chronic kidney disease
Alison Kirk 
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour and behaviour change
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in preventions and management of Non Communicable Disease (NCD)
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in individuals with diabetes 
Fiona Mitchell 
  • Physical activity, dietary patterns and lifestyle interventions for youth with special needs
  • Physical activity interventions in youth with Type 1 diabetes, individuals with intellectual disabilities, adolescent girls, post-partum women
  • Smoking cessation interventions in vulnerable groups
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
  • Longitudinal (birth cohort) studies, in particular with ALSPAC and GMS in the UK
  • Systematic reviewing: evidence appraisal, and evidence - based guideline development 

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are per academic year unless otherwise stated.

2019/20 entrants may be subject to a small fee during the writing up period.

Scotland/ EU

  • £4,327

Rest of UK

  • £4,327
International students
  • £13,550


Have a look at our scholarship search for any current funding opportunities available.

Postgraduate research opportunities

Search for all funded and non-funded postgraduate research opportunities.

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.

How can I apply?

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

We strongly advise you contact one or more potential supervisors or the Postgraduate Research Director, Dr Marc Obonsawin, before completing the online application. Please click on the ‘Supervisors’ tab above for further information. Then, when you are ready, you can complete the online application.

Entry requirements

We look for a first or 2:1 UK Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in a related discipline.

The application

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

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts & 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 & 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.


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 upon 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.

If you accept our offer, you'll then be sent a full offer in writing via the email address you provide.

Accepting an offer

Once 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.

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Support & development

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is a friendly and supportive study environment for all our 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 out 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 help 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.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.


We have a great careers service that 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 loads of different support for all students here at our University. Get all the information you need at Strathlife.

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