Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Nicky Ridgers

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
25 Feb 2024

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (Domestic & International)

About this project

Discover the value of school recess on long-term health 

If you are passionate about launching your career in allied health and driven to address the ever-increasing epidemic of chronic diseases, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA). 

South Australian students have up to 400 school recess periods per year. School recess is important for students’ healthy growth and development and provides opportunities to engage in physical activity and social behaviours with peers. School recess experiences can also positively influence physical activity enjoyment and meaning and purpose in adulthood. 

However, little is known about the school recess experiences of primary and secondary school from the perspectives of both students and school staff. There is also little evidence about what schoolground factors influence active and social behaviours during school recess. 

Our project will examine school recess experiences from both students’ and staff’s perspectives using a mixed-methods approach. Our aim is to identify how the school recess experiences of students and staff align or contrast, and how these may influence school policies and practices. 

This project is uniquely positioned to identify how schools can deliver and support high quality school recess and ensure that it is protected for future generations of students to enjoy and experience. 

You will be based within ARENA, a world leader in chronic diseases research. We focus on real-world issues and bring bold ideas to create solutions which optimise health, function and wellbeing. You will have access to expertise, mentorship and networking opportunities via the Centre’s diverse engagement activities.  

What you’ll do 

In this project-based research degree, you will undertake school visits across South Australia to collect data from students and school staff. You will gain experience in different data collection techniques and learn how to analyse both qualitative and quantitative data. You will also gain skills in survey development and delivery. 

There will be opportunities to collaborate with national and international school recess researchers and practitioners. This will provide you with hands-on experience and the opportunity to start building an important professional network.  

We will support and encourage you to present your research at national and international conferences, which will give you the opportunity to enhance your communication and presentation skills.  

Where you’ll be based 

You’ll be based in the ARENA research centre. ARENA investigates the role of exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle activities in improving clinical and health outcomes. Physical, psychological and sports performance in populations is studied across a wide cross-section of society, ranging from children to elite athletes and people with chronic disease. 

Our research focus ‘Healthy lives through healthy living’ centres around the grand challenge of tackling the growing epidemic of chronic diseases. We focus on real-world issues and bring bold ideas to create solutions which optimise health, function and wellbeing. 

Our mission is to be the leading Australian voice on a global stage by championing research in exercise, nutrition, preventative health and other lifestyle behaviours across the lifespan. In fact, we are well on the way to achieving this – currently ranked in the World Top 50 for Sport Science. 

We work with diverse research partners, end-users and our communities to identify and evaluate solutions, and translate these outcomes into products and changes in policy and practice.

Supervisory team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of Australia. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students. 

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:  
  • Must undertake a ‘Working with Children Check’

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. 

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City East Campus  in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Sunday, 25 February, 2024

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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