Our research students are treated as individuals not numbers.

View content

The research student experience

As a research student at Winchester you will join a thriving community of staff and postgraduate students who share scholarly interests, attend seminars and conferences and social events. Support mechanisms are first-class and the learning environment is professional but friendly. All our research students are encouraged to become active contributors to the research community at the University.

All research students are administered by the Research and Knowledge Exchange Centre. All viva voce examinations also take place at the RKE Centre. Our Skills Development team administers and provides training for both research supervisors and research students. See below for more information on research training.

Current self-funded opportunities

The University offers a range of exciting self-funded MPhil/PhD opportunities across our faculties. We currently invite applications for two exciting opportunities to conduct research in an applied setting and to explore approaches to developing mentally healthy environments in different sporting environments. We envisage that these projects will include both quantitative and qualitative methods and would suit those interested in a mixed-methods approach.

Project 1: Developing mentally healthy environments in team sports

While the benefits of exercise, physical activity and sport on mental health have often been reported, the suggested link between these activities and a positive impact on mental health has often been oversimplified. It is recognised that engaging in activities such as sport at all ages can have a positive impact on mental health, yet the specific dynamics of the particular environment (e.g. the club) dictate whether engagement in sport will have a positive or negative impact on mental health. In the mental health in sport literature there is an increasing focus on the challenges of how to develop a mentally healthy and psychologically positive environment in which athletes can thrive in terms of their personal development, mental health and sporting performance. In recent years, criticisms have been made regarding the cultures that have developed in some sports and sports teams, and the knock-on effect these cultures have had on the mental health and wellbeing of individual athletes and coaches.

The aim of this programme of research is therefore to seek to better understand what positive and mentally healthy environments in sport look like, paying particular attention to the influencing factors and antecedents to be able to outline specific approaches and interventions that can be applied to foster more positive and mentally healthy environments in sport.

Project 2: The impact of social media and mobile technology on athletes' mental states

The past twenty years have seen significant advances in technology that have transformed the world in previously unimaginable ways. Athletes have not been immune to these changes, and there are increasing demands on them to communicate with their clients using social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There has also been a significant increase in the use of video conference and communication platforms such as Facetime, Skype and Zoom. The potential to be continuously ‘connected’ with friends, family, peers and clients is unparalleled, with geography no longer presenting a realistic barrier. However, while this technology offers many advantages, there are potential negative impacts that to date have not really been explored, and their effect on athletes' mental states are not properly understood. Anecdotal evidence from a number of Olympic coaches suggests that social networking could have acted as a distraction to some athletes and resulted in substandard performances. The continual feedback and commentary that athletes receive has been suggested to impact upon self-efficacy and mental state. Indeed, it has been suggested that fans, family, friends and social media trolls have a subtle power to influence athletes' mental state and, ultimately, performance outcomes.

The aim of this programme of research is to explore the social media and mobile technology habits of athletes at a range of levels, and to explore the perceived and actual impact of this technology on their mental state, and ultimately performance.

For further information on these projects, contact Dr Stewart Cotterill, Reader in Sport and Performance Psychology.

Application process

Applications for these self-funded PhD opportunities are accepted for April and September 2020 starts.

Application deadline April 2020: 31 Dec. 2019
Application deadline September 2020: 31 May 2020

How to apply:

Everything you need to know to apply for a research degree

Studentship opportunities

We regularly offer exciting opportunities for doctoral studentships, both fully funded and fees-only. Find out more about our Studentships.

Research training 

At Winchester, research training is an essential part of research candidature.

The University runs Research Training events throughout the year. In addition, research students register for a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills which runs alongside their MPhil or PhD. The PGCert is made up of three 20-credit modules and is taught at a distance using technology-enhanced learning.

As well as offering students the opportunity to reflect on their own research, the PGCert also engages students in the dissemination of their work and with their own career development. Research students are also able to take modules preparing them for teaching in Higher Education as part of the research training programme.

Contact us

For any queries, please do not hesitate to email the PGR team.