Vision and Hearing Sciences PhD project opportunities

Find out more about our innovative, self-funded PhD projects below.

We already have supervisors active and engaged in the research topic in our Vision and Hearing Sciences discipline, within the School of Psychology and Sport Science.

PhD Studentship opportunity

Evidence-based Classification for Footballers with Vision Impairment: Setting Class Boundaries

Fixed term contract for 3 years, commencing January 2023.

Bursary of £17,668 per annum and a full fee-waiver for UK tuition fees.

Closing date: Friday 21 October 2022

Interview date: Week commencing 31 October 2022

About Anglia Ruskin University:

Anglia Ruskin is a vibrant workplace and our university is recognised both nationally and internationally. We have ambitious plans for the future, and we are determined that our students and staff will realise their full potential. Our main campuses in the cities of Cambridge, Chelmsford, London and Peterborough have been transformed with major capital investment. With an annual turnover of over £200m, we are a major force for higher education and one of the largest universities in the East of England.

About the position:

The classification system presently used for blind football adopts the same three classes used historically by most other sports for athletes who have vision impairment (B3/B2/B1). However, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Code states that all sports should have their own sport-specific classification system, and therefore football is not compliant with the requirements of the code. This exciting project will run in collaboration with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), with the aim of moving towards code compliance in football through the development of sport-specific classification. At present, IBSA offers two different classes in which athletes can compete: a combined B3/B2 class for those with some vision, and a B1 class for those who are essentially blind (the goalkeeper can be fully sighted). During some events, separate competitions are held for the B3/B2 and the B1 classes, but during the Paralympic games, it is only the B1 class that is able to compete. At present, there is no clear or evidence-based rationale for why athletes are grouped into the B3/B2 and the B1 classes as they presently are in football. Clearly evidence is required to demonstrate (i) the minimum level of impairment required to take part in football, and (ii) what the most appropriate classes should be for eligible athletes.

Work to establish the minimum level of impairment has been undertaken including the gathering of expert opinions from those involved with the sport and the development of football specific tests (see Runswick et al., 2021) and the impact of different simulated vision impairments on penalty kicks (Runswick, Timmis & Allen – pending). The purpose of this PhD is to establish what the most appropriate classes should be for eligible athletes which is robust enough to appropriately capture the different elements involved in football (scanning ability, kicking, tackling and running). This research will involve multiple stages that employ a variety of methodological approaches. Aspects of the project may include:

  • Working with large datasets to develop appropriate tests and measures (both sporting and vision) for use in classification
  • Spending time at IBSA Football competitions conducting vision and standardized performance tests with athletes and linking this to key performance variables.
  • Collecting data in the sports laboratory to investigate the impact of vision loss on different aspects of football
  • The project will also incorporate a science communication element where the findings will be communicated back to the football community with the aim to implement new classification guidelines.

The successful applicant will benefit from strong supervisory support and will be based at the School of Psychology and Sport Science at ARU while working in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London (KCL). The supervisory team will be led by Prof Peter Allen (ARU) and supported by Dr Oliver Runswick (KCL) and Dr Matthew Timmis (ARU).

Prof Allen, Dr Runswick and Dr Timmis have extensive experience working together researching vision in sport, including previous work on the minimum impairment criteria for football. Prof Allen specialises in vision impairment both as an optometrist and researcher. He has over 100 publications in high impact journals, has supervised 10 PGRs to completion and recently received a VC award for his PGR supervision. Dr Runswick specialises in the visual underpinnings of human performance; he is the current British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) Prof Edward Winter Early Career Researcher Award holder and supervises PGRs in sport and military research. Dr Timmis is a BASES accredited Sport & Exercise Scientist and Chartered Scientist. He has expertise in measuring visual search behaviour in sport and analysing performance measures in sport.

About the Studentship:

A three-year studentship is offered, intended to start in January 2023, providing a tax-free stipend of £17,668 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only available as a full-time position and to UK candidates.

Project location: Cambridge campus. Prospective candidates who would not be Cambridge-based are encouraged to contact the principal supervisor prior to application (contact details below).

Candidates for this PhD Studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD within 3 years.

There will be an expectation of the student to travel to competitions across the U.K. - travel and subsistence costs will be covered.

Qualifications:

Applicants should have a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant discipline (e.g., Psychology, Audiology or Optometry, Sport and Exercise Science related degree) and/or a relevant level 7 (or equivalent) qualification (e.g., Masters degree). An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language. A good understanding of statistical analysis and experience of either qualitative or quantitative research methods is desirable.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, the University will look closely at the qualities, skills, and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful and timely completion.

How to apply:

To apply, please visit Optometry and Vision Sciences MPhil, PhD, click "Apply online" and complete the application form for full-time study with a start date of January 2023. Please ensure the reference ‘Evidence-based Classification for Footballers with Vision Impairment: Setting Class Boundaries' is clearly stated on the application form, under the title 'Outline of your proposed research'. Within this section of the application form, applicants should include a 500-word outline of the skills that they would bring to this research project and previous experience of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Interested applicants should direct initial queries about the project to Dr Peter Allen peter.allen@aru.ac.uk and Dr Oliver Runswick oliver.runswick@kcl.ac.uk. For enquiries regarding the process and eligibility please contact SE-Research@aru.ac.uk.

Interviews are scheduled to take place during the period weeks commencing 31 October and 7 November 2022.

We value diversity at Anglia Ruskin University and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Please feel free to read the T&Cs before applying.

Closing Date - Friday 21 October 2022.

Non-funded opportunities

Application of Visual Neuroscience to Optometric Clinical Practice

Research Group

Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Centre

Proposed supervisory team

Prof Peter Allen

Dr Jarrod Hollis

Theme

Visual Attention and its role in Optometric Practice

Summary of the research project

The testing of sight is the preserve of the optometric domain, and the design and application of clinical procedure is something that optometric research considers at length. There is however a discrepancy between optometric application and the ultilisation of knowledge from the visual neuroscience domain.

One such topic is that of visual attention. Attention is an essential component to all aspects of the optometric routine examination, such as the measurement of vision, the subjective refraction, and procedures of visual field screening. Whilst there is a wealth of research about visual attention in neuroscience, little of this is applied to the optometric design. Optometric research tends to focus on behavioural evidence and psychometric performance. The interpretation of this data is however open to interpretation.

Triangulation of methodology is something that is beneficial to any research domain, and this project aims to utilise a triangulation of behavioural measures and neuro- physiological techniques to determine the impact of visual attention in the optometric testing routine.

Initially visual attention will be considered using behavioural and psychophysical techniques. The interpretation of the resulting data will be facilitated by the use of neuro-physiological methods which will enable the team to specific both the time course and the locus of any effects found.

The project will involve development of skills in intervention design, and potentially liaising with specialist participant groups, such as those with neuro-visual impairment. The evaluation will involve both case study and quantitative research methodologies. The software and facilities required for the project are available. Participants will be recruited via social media and from university clinics and local charities.

Where you'll study

Cambridge

Funding

This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available.

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Optometry and Vision Sciences PhD. In the section of the application form entitled 'Outline research proposal', please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Designing an Internet-based intervention for carers and adults with acquired visual loss

Research Group

Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Centre

Proposed supervisory team

Prof Peter Allen

Dr Eldre Beukes

Prof Gerhard Andersson (External)

Theme

Vision impairment

Summary of the research project

An acquired vision impairment (VI) is associated with anxiety, depression, social isolation, and reduced quality of life. As people with VI rely heavily on caregivers, due to loss of independence, caregivers may also find the increased burden placed on them difficult. There are resources, strategies and techniques available to aid independence, wellbeing and reduce the associated stress. These are not always provided due to difficulty accessing some face-to-face support by those with a VI. Providing a platform with such resources online may increase the help available to both the VI and their carers. An Internet-based intervention may provide more accessible support.

Recent research involving the VI and their caregivers has identified what support tools the VI and their carers would like in such an Internet-based intervention. This project will firstly design the internet intervention creatively, using media and digital resources. The design will involve adaptations to ensure the materials are accessible to those with a VI. Next a series of evaluations will be undertaken to determine the acceptability and evaluate efficacy of the intervention to improve activity participation and wellbeing for those with VI and their carers. The project will involve development of skills in intervention design, liaising with VI participant involvement groups. The evaluation will involve both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The software and facilities required for the project are available. Participants will be recruited via social media and from VI charities.

Where you'll study

Cambridge

Funding

This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available.

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Optometry and Vision Sciences PhD. In the section of the application form entitled 'Outline research proposal', please quote the above title and include a research proposal.