School of Sport Research Degrees

The School of Sport is an academic-led integrated school which encompasses sports research, sport education, competitive sport and sports development. Academic activities in the school span physiological and social sciences, management and coaching; all benefitting from state-of-the art sporting and
laboratory facilities. Students on our postgraduate programmes have the opportunity to be taught by some of the leading academics in their field.

Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence

As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, Stirling is the perfect choice for students looking to combine sport and study. The School of Sport offers a wide range of postgraduate programmes in sport, each shaped by the latest developments in sport.

Taught Programmes

The School of Sport has a wide range of taught postgraduate programmes including:

Number One for Research Output

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework Exercise (REF) in 2014 the School of Sport was rated as first in Scotland for the quality of its research output. The School is also first in Scotland and second in the UK for sports facilities according to the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, 2011.

Sport Management are working with sport organisations worldwide in order to improve the way these organisations are operating. Research focuses on those countries with developing sport systems and is intended to develop strategies that help managers to be more effective in promoting and managing sport in their countries.

The University of Stirling recently unveiled a suite of state-of-the-art sport, health and exercise science facilities, including an exercise intervention laboratory, body composition room with DEXA scanner, resistance training room, muscle biopsy room and physiology laboratory. Here, our academic researchers and PhD students are already undertaking cutting edge research, such as a study into the impact of omega 3 fish oil on muscle growth for athletes and the elderly.

Research Opportunities

Sport: Policy, Management and Culture

Our research expertise in this area includes: capability building in Olympic sport organisations; quality management and the management and measurement of performance within sport organisations; the public and not-for-profit sectors in sport; sports finance and organisational governance; monitoring and evaluation; anti-doping policy and practice; coaching policy and practice; the role of sport in social and community development and sport’s relationship with critical social and cultural issues.

Sport, Health and Exercise Science

Our research expertise in this area includes: strategies for increasing muscle anabolism in athletes and exercising individuals; strategies for reducing muscle catabolism in populations that suffer from muscle loss; nutrition and exercise training effects on muscle metabolism in health and disease; physical activity and obesity in adults and children and neuromuscular function in health and disease.

Further information on our research activity

Applied and Research Partnerships

Postgraduate programmes in the School of Sport connect with the world of sport through a number of ongoing applied and research partnerships while guest speakers provide invaluable insight and assistance as students prepare for a career in sport.

  • The Scottish FA work closely with the University on a number of projects, including the UEFA/SFA Pro-Licence scheme for football managers and training of coaches.
  • Sport Management has local authority research collaborations with Clackmannanshire Council and Perth and Kinross Council.
  • Elite Sport Analysis, a consultancy company providing analysis to improve athletes’ performances, is working on several football projects in partnership with School staff.
  • Sport Management work with the IOC commission Olympic Solidarity to advise and deliver sport management training programmes world-wide.
  • School staff deliver physical activity workshops on behalf of NHS Health Scotland
  • Elite strength training methods are created in conjunction with UK Sport and the sportscotland institute of sport.
  • Scottish Rugby Union’s refereeing department tap into our sport psychology expertise and our staff deliver sports psychology services to professional referees responsible for officiating elite club rugby fixtures in the UK and beyond.

In 2011, research projects have been funded by, amongst others: the World Anti-Doping Agency; the Sporting Chance Initiative; GlaxoSmithKline UK; Winning Students; The Robertson Trust and The Scottish Government.

International Collaborative Research

The School with collaborates with leading sport and health institutions worldwide, including:

  • University of Guelph and University College Dublin on muscle metabolism research;
  • University of Glasgow on diabetes research;
  • La Trobe University, Australia on sport management and sport for development research;
  • University of Cape Town on skeletal muscle activity in chronic disease patients before and after exercise rehabilitation.

The School of Sport has a strong research ethos and academic staff combine teaching with leading research in their specialised areas of expertise: Building organisational capabilities in developing Olympic sport systems; Sport coaching and coach education; Exercise, nutrition and muscle metabolism; The psychology of sport; Issues around doping in sport; Development of interventions to promote physical activity and health; Research and project evaluation; and Sports finance.

Research Proposal

Candidates should first approach the Associate Director of Research (Postgraduates) with their research idea. Under consultation, this will then be developed into a 2,000-word formal proposal including a brief literature review to establish the need for the research and initial plans on how the research will be undertaken.

Entrance Requirements to the School of Sport

Normally a good upper second class or first class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, from an institution recognised by the University of Stirling.

English Language Requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (minimum in each skill), or TOEFL: Listening 23, Reading 23, Speaking 23, Writing 23.

Mode of Study

Research Degrees can start throughout the year:

  • MPhil: Minimum one year full-time or two years part-time.
  • PhD: Minimum three years full-time or six years part-time.

Contact details

Research Programme Contact
Dr Angus Hunter
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 466497


Preference will be given to postgraduate students when allocating funds for part-time teaching and research assistance positions. Further information on possible sources of funding



'The Performance Coaching MSc is both academic and relevant to my day-to-day work. We are reading about stuff which covers the situations I face and the solutions. It also creates a whole community of performance coaches - bouncing ideas off one another and comparing methods.'
Triple Olympian snowboarder Lesley McKenna completed the MSc in Performance Coaching to assist in her new role as a snowsport performance coach

'I was drawn to Stirling by the world-class sports facilities and soon discovered they are entirely interconnected with the academic study in the School of Sport.'
Blair Cartmell is currently employed as the Assistant National Performance Development Coach for triathlonscotland following completion of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Stirling.

'The School of Sport has certainly provided a stimulating research environment for me. I've been particularly impressed by the quality and expertise amongst the staff and have found their input has added greatly to my PhD. My experience here has been overwhelmingly positive and I would recommend the School for anyone wishing to pursue research into exercise and health.'
Alyssa Gilinsky is researching physical activity among postnatal women, using an accelerometer.

'I came to study in Stirling to explore what sport means. The study environment is very friendly, I met many classmates from different parts of the world and we discussed the varied sports cultures in different countries. The Msc programme provides a good range of theoretical ground for those who want to continue further research in sports and culture.'
Nickie Cheng came to Stirling to study in 2006 and after completing an MSc, is now undertaking a PhD researching sport and the media.

'I decided to begin my PhD programme of research at the University as it offered the tantalising opportunity to work with Professor Kevin Tipton and Dr Stuart Galloway, both experts in human skeletal muscle metabolism.'
Chris McGlory came to Stirling in 2010 working within the Health and Exercise Science Research Group


'Stirling is a great place to study as it mixes cutting edge research with applied knowledge and gives graduates the best start possible start to their career.'
Leigh Robinson, Head of School of Sport
Professor Robinson recently developed a readiness assessment tool enabling National Governing Bodies to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses in order to deliver Olympic medal success.

'The University of Stirling is extremely well placed to deliver relevant, applied programmes in sport management. In contrast to many other institutions, management disciplines are taught by academics with research interests in sport and links with a wide range of sports organisations.'
Dr Fiona Sanders, Former Director of MSc Sports Management

'The expertise of the staff and the new, state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment make Stirling a great place for a post grad student to do International calibre research.'
Professor Kevin Tipton, Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise Science

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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