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Award details

Clearing confusion from concussion in sports, Motor control and biomechanics – PhD (Funded) Ref: 4098

About the award


Academic Supervisors

Dr Genevieve Williams, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter

Professor Gareth Irwin, Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University

External project lead:

Mr Sean Connelly, Football Association Wales

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University and the Football Association Wales, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in Sport and Health Sciences in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the St Luke’s Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

Each year around 1.2 million people attend emergency departments in England and Wales with a recent minor head injury, while 90% of sports concussions are mild and occur without loss of consciousness. The symptoms of mild concussion are subtle, such as slowed reaction time, poor hand-eye coordination and an inability to ‘think clearly’. The mild concussion has serious potential consequences in the short-term effecting our ability to safely play sport or drive a car. In the long-term repeated mild concussions are linked to early onset dementia and many ex professional rugby and football players are coming forward to testify and challenge unions over the safety of their sports as a result. However, pitchside assessment of mild concussion is mostly qualitative, in some cases based only on visual assessment of the player by a medic or coach and the answer to basic Maddox questions.

During this PhD you will work with the supervisory team to develop and validate quantitative pitchside tests for mild concussion in sports. You will work in both the laboratory and in a professional sports environment. We are looking for candidates with a range of skill sets, from engineering, applied psychology, biomechanics, mathematics to join our multidisciplinary team in this endeavor. Please indicate in your cover letter how you might contribute to our work, developing and validating pitch side tests for mild concussion in sports based on your particular skill set and interests.

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,285 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.  We encourage students who have a 1st class honours degree and/or a Master level qualifications.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience, and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• A brief research proposal highlighting how you will contribute to this project specifically. Up to 1 page long.
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying).
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 15th April 2021 (formerly 12th April but changed due to system works effecting the online application system).  Interviews will be held virtually in the week commencing 26th April 2021.

If you have any specific enquires please contact Dr Genevieve Williams:
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers)  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:15th April 2021
Value:Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions