School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

PhD opportunities

"By the time I complete my studies, I’ll be equipped with the necessary knowledge and the experience I need to carry out my future ambitions."

Student testimonials

Here’s what some of our PhD students have to say about their experiences.

Asya Barutcu

Please tell us about your research.

My PhD is titled "Eating Behaviour and Dietary and Exercise Interventions on Recreationally Active Individuals". It focuses on the recreationally active and understanding the behaviour behind eating habits, or exercise interventions. We believe focusing on behaviour will be more important in terms of understanding mechanisms behind certain traits, and also help implement more successful intervention strategies. For my first study, we investigated the effects of exercise on meal planning, and results have been very interesting.

What did you do before your PhD?

I completed my masters in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Loughborough and graduated in 2013. After that, I stayed around in Loughborough and did some voluntary work for about a year. I was employed as a technician in Exercise Physiology again at Loughborough University for about 9 months, before I started my PhD in October 2015.

Please tell us why you decided to come to Loughborough University.

I chose Loughborough because of its excellence in sports science research, and for the opportunity to work with my current supervisor – Dr Lewis James.

Also, I was attracted to Loughborough because of the sporting facilities and diverse sporting activities I could get involved with. Since I've been at Loughborough, I’ve tried many different sports, and became more active than ever before.

How are you funding your PhD?

My PhD is self-funded. I have some external funding from British Council in Cyprus and also the Turkish Cypriot Government. I also work as a voluntary subwarden at the Holt; employed part-time by the Leicester Diabetes Centre as a ‘Let’s Prevent Diabetes’ Educator; and also deliver teaching within the SSEHS.

We’d love to know the top three things about your experience so far.

1. Learning opportunities available in terms of skills training, teaching experience, project management, recruitment, writing and planning a study.

2. Gym Facilities. I took advantage of the three year membership which allows me to use the gym (Holywell), the exercise classes and the pool for the next three years.

3. Dining Halls. As I work as a subwarden, I’m allowed to eat at Dining Halls, and as I have a long intolerance list, it can be challenging to provide me with food. However, Towers Dining Hall cook specifically for me at lunch times, and I’m very grateful that they agreed to take me on.

What are your plans for the future?

I enjoy teaching, and therefore, see myself in a teaching role after I complete my PhD.

How do you think studying this course at Loughborough University will help you achieve these ambitions?

Loughborough University allows me to increase my experience in teaching alongside my PhD, and provides me with training in teaching skills. Also, as my PhD focuses on very specific behaviours and exercise interventions, by the time I complete my studies, I’ll be equipped with the necessary knowledge and the experience I need to carry out my future ambitions.


Lin Cherurbai Sambili

Please tell us about your research.

My PhD title is “The Role of Sport in Countering Radicalisation: A case study of Kenya.” This study is focused on investigating the potential role of sport as a tool to counter radicalisation in the Kenyan society. The research looks at the ongoing efforts of identified community based organisations in Kenya that are working to counter radicalisation through structured sport and play activities. The reason this work is important is because this is a global and national challenge, but not much attention has been paid to the possible effectiveness of sport as an intervention tool.

Where are you from?

I am proudly from Kenya.

What were you doing before you started your PhD?

Prior to starting on this great opportunity, I was a Tutorial Fellow in Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya where I worked with the growing Sports Department. Apart from teaching, I run a Sports for Development and Peace (SDP) organisation dubbed Sports with A Goal Africa (SWAGA) which uses sport as a tool to Reach, Connect and Empower youth in different communities in Kenya. This organisation is still continuing with the unwavering support of our local team.

Why Loughborough University?

Loughborough University is the best in the world for my field of study - that is sport. It is an absolute privilege to be able to live and study here. Since joining the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in October 2016, I have grown immeasurably on all fronts. The University is equipped with excellent staff and resources which makes the learning and study experience very rich.

What do you enjoy the most about completing your PhD with us?

There are many things I enjoy about studying a PhD with Loughborough but I believe the student experience and interaction with brilliant colleagues and academic staff at the school tops it off. There is a sincere sense of community here and for that I am grateful.

Describe what it is like to study a PhD, and how this differs from undergraduate/masters study.

Studying a PhD is a constant self-learning process. it requires commitment and focus that I am having to cultivate a lot more of, because you are in charge of your time and growth. Whilst there is a vibrant PhD support group, one must remain committed to the opportunity and the deliverables. An undergraduate and masters study is outlined for you in a sense. A PhD requires you to do a substantial amount of digging and groundwork to unearth your research findings.

Describe a day in the life of a PhD student.

It involves partitioning your day into reading and writing sections, it is essentially a 9-5 job but with the freedom to do your work from where you are most focused. This could be at the office, the library, in your study area or even in a coffee shop. Other days you will attend training sessions at the Loughborough Doctoral College in order to further your research and development skills or attend a conference within or outside campus. But this said, some days are more intense than others where you need to write more while other days are easier where you can get more reading done.

Why did you decide to undertake a PhD in your area?

I decided to undertake a PhD in the area of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) because I have seen the benefits of structured sports activities in the development and engagement of a community, an individual and even a society. Furthermore, I knew that if I was to make any substantial impact on a national and global scale, furthering my education would be key.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as having graduated from my PhD and written a significant amount of work in the field of Sport for Development for my country and Africa. I also see myself working within an international sport governing body and building partnerships both for academia and the private sector in order to enhance the true value and impact of sport and development for others.

If you could give one piece of advice to a future PhD student, what would it be?

Believe in your voice, write daily and learn to listen to the wealth of knowledge that is in people.

Amber Guest

Please tell us about your research?

My PhD focuses on the physical and mental health of lorry drivers. I am part of a larger team which is conducting a 12-month health intervention on a large cohort of lorry drivers around the UK, where I have been conducting a process evaluation of the intervention, and analysing the drivers’ stress reactivity levels. I also initially carried out a systematic literature review to understand the global health status of lorry drivers.


What did you do before your PhD?

After finishing my A levels, I joined the ambulance service at aged 18 and worked there for a few years. This really sparked my interest in the human body, so I decided to do an undergraduate in Human Biology at Loughborough University. My final year undergraduate dissertation was researching the sedentary behaviour of ambulance workers, the results were quite shocking! This was my first bit of independent research and I loved it, so I knew I wanted to carry on down that path.


Why did you decided to come to Loughborough University?

Loughborough University is world-renowned for being a research-led university, to be a part of that culture was really important to me. The facilities are excellent, my desk is in an open plan office in the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine. Loughborough has a very inclusive and community feel, there is loads to do outside of the PhD, countless sports obviously, but also loads of groups and societies, so there is something for everyone.


How are you funding your PhD?

I applied to the Colt Foundation, a charity which funds research projects in the field of occupational and environmental health, particularly those aimed at discovering the cause of illnesses arising from conditions in the workplace. It included a detailed research proposal, followed by an interview. They cover all the student fees, a yearly stipend of £15,000, and costs towards your research expenses.


What are the highlights of your experience so far?

The best thing is that the health intervention is transforming lives, I met with a lorry driver recently that, because of our study, had lost 35 kilos and reversed his diabetes. Moments like that make it feel invaluable.

The PhD is opening doors that I did not even know existed, in my first few months I attended an international health conference in Prague and was in awe about all the research going on in the world. Since then I have presented my own research at two other conferences and won awards at both.

Of course, a PhD can be stressful and demanding at times, but overall, the lifestyle of being a PhD student suits me very well. Your supervisors are always there to guide and support you, but you quickly become independent and manage your own deadlines. Best of all, when you have a burning interest in an area, you can pursue it.


What are your plans for the future?

I would ideally like to stay in academia and either become a research associate or explore the avenue of lecturing. As a PhD student at Loughborough University, you can teach undergraduates in practical lab classes, which I have really enjoyed doing. I would like to gain the qualification of Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and pursue a career in lecturing alongside research.


How do you think studying this course at Loughborough University will help you achieve these ambitions?

Loughborough is providing me with all the tools I need in order to become a well-rounded researcher. This year alone I have attended over 17 days of training courses, and I have had experience presenting at conferences. It really helps with networking and building both confidence and knowledge. I have also had experience of teaching undergraduates in practical lab classes. Ultimately, it is a safe learning environment where it is okay to make mistakes and practice new techniques, because at the end of the day, I am still a student and the whole point is I am still supposed to be learning.


What advice would you give to someone thinking of undertaking a PhD at Loughborough?

My best advice is to just put yourself out of your comfort zone and go for it! Nobody can imagine themselves doing a PhD until they are actually doing one. Talk to people that are already doing one, or lecturers that specialise in something similar to what you are interested in. You will have to put yourself out of your comfort zone, but that is definitely the best way for personal and professional growth.