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SSEHS Researcher Gillian Cook wins BPS best thesis prize

Gillian Cook, a Doctoral Researcher in Sport and Performance Psychology at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, has won a prestigious award for her MSc thesis.

The Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP) – a division of the British Psychological Society (BPS) – confirmed Gillian as the winner of the MSc prize after reviewing all submissions for the 2014 dissertation award. 

The judging panel commented on the high standard of submissions, but felt there were a number of strengths to Gillian’s work, including the “methodical and analytical rigour applied” and the “characteristics of the applied research question”.

Gillian said: “I was absolutely delighted when I found that I had won the British Psychological Society’s MSc award for best MSc thesis of 2014.  I was also pleased for everyone that I had worked with during my thesis, my supervisor Dr David Fletcher, the British Olympic Swimming Team, and all of the participants.”

Her research (titled “Perceptions of Sport Psychology in British Swimming: Retrospective Reflections and Prospective Projections”) grew out of discussions with Loughborough performance psychologist Dr David Fletcher and British Swimming.

Gillian explained: “The applied and evolving nature of sport psychology means there is a need to understand the perceptions of service users, and incorporate the real world needs they have into the development of future services. Management, coaching and sport science support staff were interviewed about their perceptions of the sport psychology provision leading up to, and during, the London 2012 Olympics, and their requirements from the service for Rio 2016. The findings highlighted that sport psychology has multiple roles within all levels of Olympic organisations, and the research gave us all an opportunity to learn for the future from lessons of the past.”

Reflecting on her award, Gillian said:  “I have benefited enormously from the positive research environment that’s created throughout Loughborough University, and from the excellence of the teaching on the Psychology of Sport and Exercise MSc. It’s such a great honour for my work to be recognised by the British Psychological Society and by the leaders in the field who made up the judging panel.”

Gillian is also pursuing the BPS Stage 2 Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology (QSEP), and has coaching qualifications in tennis and skiing.  The School congratulates her on her success.

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