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Funded PhD Opportunity

An investigation into the effectiveness of Sports Based Interventions (SBIs) in preparing prisoners for life after prison.

Subjects: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism and Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism


Summary

Over the last 15 years prison populations around the world have grown exponentially, and although sport is increasingly being used in society to tackle the issues of anti-social behaviour and crime reduction (Nichols, 2004, 2007; Coalter 2007; Smith & Waddington, 2004), little is known about the use and effectiveness of sports-based interventions (SBIs) in preparing prisoners for a life free from crime after prison. However, Gallant et al. (2015) highlight that although there is a scarcity of research regarding sport and recreation activities in prisons three main themes appear to be clearly evident in the academic literature: first, the health and wellbeing benefits for prisoners (Amtmann et al., 2001; Elger, 2009; Meek & Lewis, 2012; Vaiciulis et al. 2011); second, the tendency of the SBI’s to aid in the rehabilitation process (Hagan, 1989; Leberman, 2007; Mahon & Bullock, 1991; Stumbo & Little, 1991); and third, the effectiveness of SBIs as an offender management tool (Aguilar & Asmussen, 1990; Crutchfield et al., 1981; Martos-Garcia et al., 2009; Medve, 1961; Sabo, 2001).

These empirical studies lay the foundations for the further examination of the use of SBIs within the prison setting, but with a stronger focus on the post-prison process. This is particularly relevant within the NI context as the proven reoffending rate for prison releases is currently 41% (DoJ, 2018).

Throughout the UK, growing prison populations and high recidivism rates are placing extreme pressure and scrutiny on governing bodies to provide more opportunities for prisoners to prepare themselves for release. Meek’s (2014) research highlights the inconsistent and under-developed practice that exists in prisons within the UK when it comes to the delivery, monitoring, evaluation and support for the participants of these programmes once they leave the custodial setting. Certainly Meek’s (2014) work is significant as it bridged the fields of psychology, criminology and sport for development (SfD) and raised questions as to the potential for both positive and negatives outcomes to result from SBIs in prisons.

The prison context is unique in terms of SfD development research as in this setting the sports programme is regarded as a privilege and can be taken away as a punishment, unlike the outside world where this would not be the case. Therefore, understanding what is perceived to make these programmes successful and what this measure of success looks like is crucial to ascertain for the particular geographical, structural and policy context of in Northern Ireland.

Limited research has taken place in terms of SBIs in prisons in Northern Ireland (NI) and what has been published has focused on psychology well-being (Breslin, Wood, Hassan, 2017). Therefore, innovative questions that will be raised in this research project which will focus on the pre- and post-release outcomes of SBIs in preparing prisoners for release and reducing reoffending.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Professor David Hassan


Other supervisors

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