Research in sport and exercise science is conducted through the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute (SESRI), and is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of staff and postgraduate PhD researchers. Given the applied nature of the research conducted by SESRI, we have developed a range of research collaborations at international, national and local levels involving governing bodies of sport, hospitals and medical facilities and practitioners, local and national government and other key stakeholders in sport, exercise and physical activity.
Research areas include:
- Social sciences of sport including sport for development and peace;
- sport and migration
- sport and inclusion
- pain and injury in sport
- sport and identity politics
- sport and disability (intellectual and physical)
- sport management
- sports gambling
- sport and children’s rights
Research centres housed in SESRI carry out high quality research, and promote a vibrant culture of research and scholarship in partnership with health providers, sports governing bodies and other centres of excellence. In the recent national assessment of research quality (REF2021), 89% of our research and 100% of the environment for sports related research at Ulster University was ranked as internationally excellent or world leading. The impact of our research locally and internationally was also acknowledged by REF 2021 with 100% of our impact rated as internationally excellent and world leading.
The Centre for Sport in Society brings together colleagues from across Ulster University who conduct research on sport from a range of disciplinary perspectives in the social sciences.
This research explores themes and issues associated with the cultural, political, social, economic and historical import of sport in a variety of local, national and international contexts including Ireland, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States.
Since 2005, Centre members have secured research funding from a range of prestigious sources including the Economic and Social Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, the European Union, Special Olympics, the British Academy, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), UNICEF UK and the Higher Education Authority.
Our work is also impactful and applied and has involved research conducted with a range of governing bodies and key stakeholders in sport including the Irish Football Association, UEFA, the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, World Rally Championship, Special Olympics Ireland, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the English Premier League, UNICEF UK and the Centre for Sport and Human Rights.
There has been considerable media interest in our research leading to its dissemination in a wide range of local, national and international media outlets.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.
Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.
Fees and funding
Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.
To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.
Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
My research examined the ability of exercise to inflict damage to DNA and other biologically important structures. During my PhD I had the pleasure of being supervised by Prof Gareth Davison and Dr Ciara Hughes. Pursuing a PhD was never a goal from the outset of my academic career - I wanted to be a PE teacher and completed my BSc in Sport and Exercise Science. However, I carried on with my studies and completed a MSc in Sports Nutrition before enrolling in my PhD.If I could give advice to any new graduate student, it would be the nature of research means that things will not always go according to plan. Keep calm, take a break and then carry on. Have a life outside work. Although your lab group is like your work family, it’s great for your mental health to be able to escape work especially when things don't go to plan.
Joshua Williamson - PhD in Sports Science