Physical Activity and Public Health programme

Current/previous studentships in the programme:
  • An exploration of the socioeconomic determinants and health impacts of active commuting.
  • Physical activity and public health.
  • Physical activity and the transition to retirement: combining quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • Physical activity in adults: investigating the contribution of active travel.
  • Travel behaviour, physical activity and social and environmental correlates in young people.
Examples of possible future topics for doctoral research:

Evaluating the physical activity and related impacts of environmental and policy changes
We aim to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the effects of interventions in order to discriminate between promising and ineffective approaches, identify those most likely to benefit the least active or the least healthy, compare the cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit of different approaches, and inform the accurate modelling of their ultimate health impacts. Doctoral research in this area might entail the primary evaluation of actual environmental and policy interventions, particularly by means of natural experimental studies using quantitative and/or qualitative methods; or cumulating evidence from multiple studies, particularly by means of innovative approaches to systematic reviews. Interventions of potential interest span the economic (e.g. road user charging), physical (e.g. urban planning, transport infrastructure) and social environments.

Understanding patterns and mechanisms of population physical activity behaviour change
We aim to understand the ways in which environmental and policy changes lead to particular outcomes, for whom and in what circumstances. Interventions of this kind are often somewhat specific to their contexts, which presents a challenge for deriving generalisable causal inference from evaluation studies that can help guide policy, planning and practice. Doctoral research in this area might entail exploring patterns (e.g. changes over time) and mechanisms (i.e. causal pathways) of change through the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from observational datasets collected in a variety of settings, using epidemiological and/or social science research methods in combination.

For more details see

For further information about PhD opportunities, please contact Dr David Ogilvie, or Dr Jenna Panter