Funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Science

Start dates

Oct 2021

Application deadline

4 May 2021

Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3-year PhD to commence in October 2021.

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Science and Health and will be supervised by Dr Zoe Saynor, a world-leading expert in exercise and cystic fibrosis and active member of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society exercise working group, alongside Dr Jo Corbett and Dr Anthony Shepherd. Additional clinical and research input will also come from clinical colleagues. 

This PhD studentship is part of an exciting partnership of research collaboration and dissemination of knowledge and education between the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth and the Cystic Fibrosis Warriors charity. Central to this partnership will be the promotion of the benefits of physical activity, exercise, and good nutrition for people with cystic fibrosis. The studentship covers tuition fees at Home/EU level and an annual maintenance grant of £15,285 (2020/21 rate).

The candidate will join the Physical Activity, Health and Rehabilitation Thematic Research Group, led by Dr Zoe Saynor, whilst also working closely with colleagues in the Extreme Environments Thematic Research Group. This position will also involve working closely with our clinical colleagues (clinicians and physiotherapists) within the respiratory and paediatric departments at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The primary research environment will be exercise laboratories at the University of Portsmouth, however additional work may take place at local hospital sites. The student will work in a team with his/her supervisors and clinical staff and will be fully immersed in running clinical trials and the analyses of data. 

The work on this project could involve

  • Evaluating fitness, physical activity, cardiovascular and metabolic health in people with cystic fibrosis 
  • Evaluation of hydration and nutritional recommendations for people with cystic 
  • Evaluation of hydration and nutritional interventions in people with cystic fibrosis

This will involve conducting research studies to answer important questions raised by people with cystic fibrosis to help them engage in safe and effective lifelong exercise, as well as translating our collaborative research findings and other key educational sessions to people with cystic fibrosis through the charity network. 

The candidate will be expected to conduct research that has been informed by people with cystic fibrosis and aims to benefit people with cystic fibrosis. Specifically, the research undertaken aims to further our understanding on the topics of exercise and nutrition for people with cystic fibrosis as we transition into the modulator era, building on previous work conducted by the supervisory team. This PhD studentship is an exciting opportunity in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Warriors Charity (and the student will also work closely with the charity to disseminate research findings to people with cystic fibrosis and their families.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.


This project presents an exciting opportunity to work as part of a multidisciplinary team. We are looking for a determined, motivated individual with a strong interest in clinical exercise physiology and who enjoys working in laboratory and clinical settings, but is also open to learning new skills relating to engaging with the cystic fibrosis community. Additionally, the student must be able to work as part of a team but must be equally comfortable working independently. The student must be aware of the challenges conducting research with children/adolescents and in a clinical setting. 

Successful applicants will normally have a Masters degree, or in exceptional cases a First Class Honours Degree, in a sport, exercise or health-related science subject. 


How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Zoe Saynor ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SHES6071021 when applying.