Psychology PhD Scholarship: Joint actions and synchrony in team sports

Sport Park barn, USW

USW Sport Park

Title of Research

Joint actions and synchrony in team sports: Using EEG to understand group learning and function through action observation and imagery

Programme of Research

The overall aim of this PhD is to examine the neurophysiological characteristics of group-based AO, MI and AOMI, and test their utility in team sport environments

Most imagery and observation research has focussed on their effects on motor (re)learning at an individual level (e.g., stroke rehabilitation, e.g., Emerson et al, 2018), with little research examining its application at a group level (e.g., sports teams) for either skill/strategy learning or to improve psychological measures of group functions (e.g., collective efficacy and cohesion). 

Research has begun to examine combined AO and MI (AOMI) interventions (Wright et al., 2021), whereby the individual components of observation and imagery are used at the same time in either a congruent (e.g., the participant images the same as the observed footage) or an incongruent way (the participant images their response to the observed footage). 

Hypothetically, due to the nature of team/joint actions, a team member imagining their actions in response to the observed movements of a teammate (i.e., incongruent AOMI) will be more effective for improving skill learning, positive group-based emotions (e.g., collective efficacy) and shared mental models.

The successful candidate will be working with Professor David Shearer, Professor in Elite Performance Psychology and a HCPC registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist. Research students also benefit from extensive free training.

Scholarship details

The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time three-year PhD programme and pay a stipend of £15, 500 per year.  


  • Successful completion of an undergraduate degree in Psychology or aligned discipline (2:1 or above).  
  • UK applicants only

Applications and enquiries

  • Details of how to apply can be found here.
  • Applicants should contact Jane MacCuish in the Graduate School for advice on the application process, [email protected]
  • Applicants are welcome to contact Professor David Shearer to discuss the project ahead of formal submission of an application, [email protected]
  • The closing date for applications is 11th March 2022 and the expected start date is w/c 4th April 2022.  
  • The successful applicant will initially register for an MPhil/PhD.
  • Why choose USW for your PhD?