2020 applicants
Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Using sport as a vehicle to enhance communication skills in young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Title: SCH03: Using sport as a vehicle to enhance communication skills in young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Funding: Full time Home/EU fees and a stipend of £15,009 p.a. (terms & conditions)

Application deadline: 28 October 2019

Start date: January 2020

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (in collaboration with the Department of Psychology and School of Health and Social Care)


This studentship has now closed. Please see our other opportunities.


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) can be defined as persistent difficulties with communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive interests, activities, and behaviours, which limit and impair everyday functioning.

Within the UK, ASDs are most commonly identified in those under the age of 14 with somewhere in the region of 1:69 to 1:88 children diagnosed annually. As an intrinsically motivating context for many children and young people, sport may offer an environment where psychosocial competencies, such as communication and social skills, can be developed.

The purpose of the present research, then, is to examine the use of sport as a vehicle to enhance communication and social interaction skills in children and young people diagnosed with ASDs.

Given the nature of the project, candidates with a background in coaching science and/or psychology (i.e., social psychology / developmental psychology / cognitive psychology / sport psychology) and a willingness to adopt both quantitative and qualitative methodologies are encouraged to apply.


The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

  • The candidate must include a CV, covering letter, personal statement, transcripts of any undergraduate or masters programmes within this application, and a copy of their most recent dissertation.
  • You will also be required to provide a referee. This should be your most recent dissertation supervisor (academia) or line manager (industry). Your referee will not be contacted until a conditional offer has been made.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "PhD Sport and Exercise Psychology"
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH03: Using sport as a vehicle to enhance communication skills in young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD))
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr John Mills)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr John Mills (john.mills@essex.ac.uk).

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).