Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Sport and Exercise Science & Sports Therapy - PhD


The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences provides an excellent environment for undertaking your PhD. We have an active group of both full-time and part-time postgraduate research students in the School.



The breadth of staff research interests enables us to supervise research degrees in a number of areas, in the sport and exercise sciences and in sports therapy. These areas include: exercise physiology, nutrition, biomechanics, injury, rehabilitation, psychology. More specifically, we can offer research in the areas of: mental fatigue; perceived effort and exercise capacity; training and sports performance; cycling efficiency, mega sporting events and their legacy; rehabilitation; physical activity in various populations; threat and challenge in sports psychology; sports nutrition; exercise immunology, pre-habilitation and rehabilitation from injury or surgery; and manual therapy in sport and lower back pain.

As a research student at Kent, you are provided with training in research-specific and broader ‘transferable skills’, including academic writing, career management and presentation skills. Doctoral students also have the opportunity to train for an advanced teaching qualification (ATAP). During term time, the research groups hold weekly meetings to discuss ongoing work, and there are also weekly seminars featuring external speakers. If you do not have any postgraduate experience of statistical analysis, you can take our MSc module in Research Methods.

About the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is one of the most exciting and innovative sports schools in the UK.

The School is based on the University’s award-winning Medway campus and has well-equipped, state-of the-art sports science laboratories, sports therapy clinic, sports rehabilitation gymnasium and respiratory clinic.

The University of Kent benefits from Medway Park, an £11 million project to create a regional centre of sporting excellence that was an approved pre-Olympic training camp venue for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Medway Park has hosted a number of major sporting events, such as the Modern Pentathlon World Cup and European Championships.

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences offers both taught and research postgraduate courses in Sport and Exercise Science and Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences was ranked 18th in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.


Our programmes have been developed and designed to provide students with the required knowledge and skills to work autonomously in the field of sport science and sports therapy. The programmes provide opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate both specialist academic and transferable skills such as good communication, problem solving, critical analysis and the ability to work independently to a high standard. The programmes also aim to give you the opportunity to build long-term careers within your chosen field.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has recently invested heavily in its equipment and other resources, and has world-class sports therapy and sport science facilities. Campus facilities include a 12-couch teaching clinic and state-of-the-art sports science laboratories. There is a wide range of equipment, including motorised and non-motorised treadmills, cycle ergometers, an isokinetic dynamometer, and blood and gas analysis equipment. In addition, at Medway Park, the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has its own cutting-edge sports therapy clinic, rehabilitation gymnasium, sports science laboratories and a respiratory clinic.

There is also a hypoxic environmental chamber, and analytical chemistry, respiratory testing and psychobiology laboratories. These specialist rooms have been set up with over £700,000 of new equipment, including an anti-gravity treadmill, a 3D video analysis system, 2D force pedals, ultra-sound imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy and a gait analysis system.

The School operates a commercial sports injury and rehabilitation clinic, respiratory clinic and sports performance services from Medway Park to support elite athletes, regional squads and local residents. As a postgraduate student, you have the opportunity to develop your professional skills as you work with clients in the clinic and laboratory under staff supervision.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in leading scientific journals. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; American Journal of Sports Medicine; Journal of Applied Physiology; and British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Entry requirements

An MSc, or a first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has a strong and vibrant research culture. It is quickly establishing the University of Kent as one of the leading places in the UK for the study of sport. The School’s research interests focus on two broad themes: endurance performance and exercise, sports therapy and injury rehabilitation.

In endurance performance, the School has one of the largest groups of research excellence within Europe lead by Professors Samuele Marcora and Louis Passfield. Professor Samuele Marcora is the School’s Research Director and a prolific researcher. He has published many studies on a range of topics. Professor Louis Passfield has been conducting sports science research for over 20 years and has published many papers on training and cycling. He has also worked as a sports scientist with British Cycling, helping Britain’s leading riders prepare for four Olympic Games, including the highly successful Beijing Olympic team. We have a strong team of prolific, leading researchers within this group, and many are involved in a range of projects. For further details, see:

In sports therapy and injury rehabilitation, Dr Karen Hambly has established a world-wide reputation for her work in this area, and other staff within the School are involved in ground-breaking studies within this field. For further details, see:

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Mark Burnley: Senior Lecturer

Oxygen uptake kinetics; endurance performance; neuromuscular fatigue; applying control systems theory and non-linear dynamics to the physiology of exercise.

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Dr Glen Davison: Lecturer

Sports nutrition and supplements; immune system function in athletes and how the immune system responds to various types of training; endurance performance; interval training; nutrition and health.

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Kyra De Coninck: Lecturer

Anatomy and function of fascia, myofascial pain and adaptation of fascia to mechanical loading; interaction between chronic pain, physical activity and changes within the fascia network; ultrasound imaging of thoracolumbar fascia in a sedentary and athletic population, both with and without lower back pain.

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Dr John Dickinson: Lecturer

Exercise-induced asthma in athletes; inspiratory stridor and breathing technique; inspiratory muscle training; the respiratory system and athletic performance.

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Lucy Hale: Lecturer

Nutritional interventions to improve sport and exercise performance; the effect of Omega 3 EPA/DHA on markers of inflammation; exercise induced asthma in athletes.

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Dr Karen Hambly: Senior Lecturer

Rehabilitation and outcome measures; rehabilitation after articular cartilage repair of the knee; return to sports after injury and patient perspectives of outcome measurement; development of exercise interventions for osteoarthritic populations.

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Dr James Hopker: Lecturer

The physiological determinants of endurance performance and adaptations from exercise training; the use of pre-operative exercise training to increase patient fitness prior to major inter-cavity surgery; the use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy in the assessment of muscle and brain tissue oxygen consumption.

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Sadie Jones: Lecturer

Working in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union to identify current practice in the prevention, management and treatment of hamstring injuries; researching hamstring muscles and fatigue and return to play following hamstring injuries.

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Professor Samuele Marcora: Director of Research

Psychobiology of perception of effort and endurance performance; fatigue in chronic disease (eg, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, ME); psychobiology of exercise adherence.

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Dr Lex Mauger: Lecturer

How the body, as an integrative system, maintains a relative homeostasis during intense exercise through the anticipatory regulation of work rate; the role of the different afferents produced during exercise and how these may be responded to by systems of central control; models of endurance performance, particularly through self-paced exercise.

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Steve Meadows: Lecturer

Energy expenditure differences in heart attack patients during walking and cycling; group exercise and exercise adherence; physical activity promotion to the general population.

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Dr Carla Meijen: Lecturer

How athletes approach competition; how challenge and threat states comprise cognitive (self-efficacy, perceived control, achievement goals), affective and physiological components.

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Dr Sakis Pappous: Senior Lecturer

Social (eg, mass media, significant others) and psychological (eg, motivation, attitudes, self-efficacy) factors that influence participation in sport and physical activity; strategies aiming to increase participation of groups of society who are sedentary, including disabled people, people from minority ethnic groups and older people.

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Professor Louis Passfield: Head of School

Interdisciplinary applied sports science issues in high performance sport; optimising training and competitive performance; enhancing physical activity in the local population. Louis’ research focuses on endurance training and performance, and elite cycling in particular.

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Dr Samantha Winter: Lecturer

Clinical biomechanics with a particular focus on interventions to prevent falls in older people; steadiness in isometric force production including changes with ageing and strength training; mechanical models of muscle; the application of non-linear dynamics to movement, such as the effect of gait interventions on the fractal properties of the ground reaction force and joint moments; changes in postural stability with ageing.

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK.  This is ordinarily announced in March. 

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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