Inequalities, diversity and community sport – evidence-led policy for transforming opportunities and engagement

ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) collaborative doctoral studentship.

The Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University with Sport England.



Professor Nana Anokye, Director of Division of Global Public Health at the Department of Health Sciences within the College of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London

Professor Louise Mansfield, Professor of Sport, Health and Social Sciences and Research Lead for Welfare, Health and Wellbeing in the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, Brunel University London

Mr Andrew Spiers, Strategic Lead: Data, Research and Evaluation, Sport England



Sport and physical activity can make a significant contribution to improving human health and happiness. However, there are stark differences in activity levels and sport participation between certain population groups. There is a need for rigorous and systematic mixed methods work on understanding social inequalities and participation that could underpin effective intervention design and policy making in the community sport sector. The aim of this research is to examine the relationships between inequalities and community sport participation for understanding active lives, difference and diversity. There are three broad objectives: (1) to analyze inequalities (and their intersections) and community sport participation using relevant data sets, (2) to conduct targeted follow up work on inequalities and community sport participation to understand how we can feasibly and acceptably intervene with whom and in what contexts, and (3) to develop a conceptual approach and theory of change on inequality and community sport participation that can be used for effective decision and policy making in the sport sector. The study design will be mixed methods and could include secondary data analysis of large-scale data sets, primary qualitative data collection with targeted participant groups and intervention design employing coproduction strategies. We are seeking candidates with expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods. Disciplinary backgrounds in economics, sociology, social psychology, geography, political science and human geography are particularly relevant.



Sport England is a non-departmental body of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport responsible for growing and developing grassroots sport and getting more people physically active across England. The role of Sport England in this project will include provision of a collaborative working culture to enable the Doctoral Researcher to access data; provision of appropriate policy-related mentoring, and access to relevant training, key meetings and knowledge exchange opportunities; support for the Doctoral Researcher’s experience of the translation and application of research and analysis in a policy organisation / setting; and contribution to relevant advice / supervision in support of the programme of Doctoral Research.



The PhD studentship will be funded by the Grand Union DTP for an expected 3 years (or part-time equivalent) from October 2023. The award length offered may differ depending on the candidate’s prior training and how they meet ESRC training requirements. The part-time option is only available to students with a Home status, or those that do not require a Visa for study in the UK.

Information about Grand Union DTP ESRC studentships and eligibility can be found on the Grand Union DTP website



12:00 midday UK time on Friday 27 January 2023



To apply for the studentship you must submit:

  1. A Grand Union DTP Application form, downloadable from:
  2. 2000 word research proposal including references. Your proposal can draw on the description of the research detailed above.
  3. Two written references, they should have a good knowledge of your academic record to date and your plans for the research project. They should be in a position to judge your suitability and preparedness for doctoral study. Only one of your two referees can be a member of your proposed (or actual) supervisory team. You may ask the supervisor of your Masters dissertation to be one of your referees. References must include: The referee’s name and their relationship to you and comment on your previous performance/achievements
  4. Your up-to-date CV;
  5. Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project;
  6. Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  7. Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, if appropriate;
  8. Completed Equal Opportunities form

Please email all completed documents to with the subject header –Wellbeing ESRC Studentship application by 27th January 2023 midday.

The admissions process is in two parts: applications will be assessed by the institution and the selected candidate will then be assessed as part of the applicant pool for ESRC Grand Union DTP funding.



Queries about the studentship should be addressed to: Professor Louise Mansfield