High intensity exercise and performance measures
MSc by Research, MPhil, PhD

Course detail

Start Date

February, June , October


MSc by Research normally 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, MPhil normally 2 years full-time or 4 years part-time, PhD normally 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time

Award Title

MSc by Research, MPhil, PhD


This is a potential research degree area, subject to the approval of the University. If you are interested in undertaking a research degree in this area, please make contact with the Dean to discuss your proposal.

Abertay’s Sport and Exercise Sciences Division has expertise in women’s sport equity; sedentary lifestyle risk factors; exercise and health training interventions; high-intensity exercise; elite sports performance; and healthy ageing. Much of this research focuses on work involving populations with protected characteristics (e.g. age, gender, disability) and aims to contribute to the duty of care agenda, which has growing salience as an issue in contemporary sport. This complements our work with Police Scotland, Active Schools, national governing bodies, charities and SMEs.

The Division has two designated human performance laboratories for physiological measurement, a strength and conditioning laboratory, and a biomechanics laboratory to support teaching and research. These facilities allow access to EMG and ECG equipment; ergometers; biofeedback systems; accelerometry; force transducers; electronic timing systems; gas and blood analysis equipment; GSR equipment and software; BioHarness Telemetry System; Vicon 3D motion analysis system; force platform; jump mats; segmental bio-impedance; body composition analysis; and linear position transducers.

Interdisciplinary work with other divisions enables access to more specialist biochemical and molecular physiology equipment, as well as opportunities to explore realistic human movement with our games design colleague’s.

Abertay researchers have established performance partnerships with the Scottish Rugby Union, Dundee United Football Club, Dundee Football Club, Fife Flyers Ice Hockey team, and this work is generating a number of new and exciting research opportunities.

Our research programmes will prepare you for a rewarding career as an academic and researcher, as well as opening up opportunities for a diverse range of careers outside of academia.

What does a research degree involve?

As a postgraduate research student, you will carry out an original, independent research and/or practice-based project, whilst being guided and supported by a team of expert academic supervisors. As you do this, you will benefit from an extensive programme of researcher development tailored to your background, needs and future ambitions. This will in turn help you develop the skills required to deliver research excellence.

Your progress will be monitored throughout the year and via an annual review. The final assessment is by examination of your submitted thesis and a viva voce (oral examination).

With the help of your supervisors, you will be encouraged to publish your research during and after your studies.

Our research degrees

You have the option of studying an MSc by Research, an MPhil or a PhD.

When deciding which degree is right for you, you should consider the level of commitment required, the duration, cost and your career aspirations.

That being said, our research degrees are flexible. You can begin an MSc or an MPhil and then seek to transfer to a PhD without having to start your project all over again. You can also switch from full-time to part-time study, and vice versa.

MSc by Research

The award of Master of Science by Research (MSc by Research) demonstrates a practical ability to undertake research studies, a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or the application of original thought.

How long is an MSc by Research?

If you are studying full-time, you will be expected to complete the award in 12 months. The minimum period to receive this award is 10 months and the maximum is 14 months.

If you are studying part-time, you will be expected to complete the award in 24 months. The minimum period to receive this award on a part-time basis is 20 months and the maximum is 28 months.



The award of Master of Philosophy demonstrates a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or the application of original thought, much of which is at (or informed by) the forefront of your field of study or area of professional practice.

How long is an MPhil?

If you are studying full-time, you are expected to complete the award in 24 months. The minimum period to receive this award is 12 months and the maximum is 48 months.

If you are studying part-time, you are expected to complete the award in 48 months. The minimum period to receive this award on a part-time basis is 24 months and the maximum is 72 months.



The award of the Doctor of Philosophy demonstrates that the main focus of your work is your personal contribution to knowledge in your discipline or field, through original research or the original application of existing knowledge.

How long is a PhD?

If you are studying full-time, you are expected to complete the award in 36 months. The minimum period to receive this is award is 24 months and the maximum is 48 months.

If you are studying part-time, you are expected to complete the award in 48 months. The minimum period to receive this award on a part-time basis is 72 months and the maximum is 96 months.

What makes Abertay's Graduate School different?

Abertay is a small university, which means that as a research student, you’ll be joining a close-knit community of scholars and researchers.

Watch Prof Nia White, Dean of Research and Abertay’s Graduate School, along with some of our research students discuss what makes Abertay’s Graduate School different from other universities.

Learn more about our Graduate School➟

Fees and funding

The fees you'll pay depend on factors such as your nationality, location and personal circumstances. See the links below and scroll down to find the Postgraduate section.

More information

Find out about potential bursaries, student loans and scholarships in our postgraduate research fees and funding section.

How to apply

1. Meet the academic entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for all our research degrees is an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) at undergraduate level in an appropriate discipline and/or a Master’s degree. In some cases, appropriate professional or experiential learning may be considered in combination with a lower classification of Honours degree.

2. Meet the visa and English language requirements

Visa requirements

If you're not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland, you may need to apply for a visa. You can find out more about applying for a visa and collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) on our Tier 4 visa page. To identify whether or not you need to apply for a visa, please visit the UKBA website.

English language requirements

We accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

For candidates whose first language is not English or your undergraduate/Master’s degree was not awarded from a University from a UKVI designated English Speaking country, you are required to show evidence of one of the following qualifications:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.

  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL “My Best Score” to meet our English language requirements.

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

  • PTE Academic: 62 overall with at least 59 in each component.

  • NECO English at B (4)

  • WAEC English at B (4)

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

To identify whether or not you need to apply for a student visa, please see here or visit the UKVI website.

3. Find a supervisor

You can look for potential supervisors by searching keywords, names or publications in the Staff Explorer. This will ensure that we have appropriate expertise within Abertay. You will also gain an understanding of the prior work of the researcher.

You should consider contacting the potential supervisor to discuss your ideas and the possibility of undertaking a research degree under their supervision. Discussion will also help you tailor your application to suit Abertay’s specific expertise in the area. Ask for feedback and be prepared to take those comments into consideration when finalising your research proposal.

You can also contact the Dean of School or our Graduate School if you would like advice on potential supervisors.

Please avoid vague blanket emails to several potential supervisors as these are unlikely to be successful.

4. Secure funding

There are two different routes to studying a research degree at Abertay – you can apply for one of our funded studentships or propose your own area of research. Find out more about our funded studentships.

If you are proposing your own area of research, you will need to consider how you will fund your studies – either through self-support or by securing a scholarship or some other form of external funding. See what scholarships are available to Abertay research students.

5. Write your research proposal

This is your opportunity to state your research objectives, to grab the reader’s attention and highlight your suitability for research degree study.

The proposal should be around 6-8 pages in length (including references) and follow the section headings below.

  • Title.

  • Abstract (summary).

  • Introduction/background.

  • Hypotheses, objectives or research question.

  • Proposed methodology.

  • How will you disseminate your findings (pathways to impact).

  • Ethical considerations.

  • Summary and conclusions.

  • References.

  • About you: briefly describe your relevant experience and how it will help you achieve your objectives, explain why you are an excellent candidate for a research degree, and identify your additional professional development and training needs.

Some good practice tips:

  • Be clear and concise.

  • Structure your proposal by breaking up blocks of text into smaller paragraphs (with headings).

  • Reference you work.

  • Justify your objectives.

6. Apply online by the relevant deadline

You can start a research degree at Abertay in February, June or October of each year. You can apply to defer from one entry point to another on one occasion, however, subsequent requests must be supported by an additional full application.

Unless otherwise stated, the deadlines for submitting a full application are:

  • Applications for February entry by 15 December (if you need a Tier 4 visa then the deadline is 30 November).

  • Applications for June entry by 30 April (if you need a Tier 4 visa then the deadline is 31 March).

  • Applications for October entry by 31 August (if you need a Tier 4 visa then the deadline is 31 July).

You will need to include the following documentation when you apply online:

  • Copies of your academic transcripts

  • References

  • Your research proposal

Apply now to start in:


The Kydd Building on Abertay's Campus

Join Abertay University's vibrant research community

Postgraduate Research students at Abertay work alongside experts from a range of discipline areas, posing new questions and finding creative solutions to the problems facing society. Our research students are central to our research community.

If you'd like more information about our Postgraduate Research degrees, please get in touch: 

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