Sport Science honours projects

Honours projects available in the Sport Science research program are outlined on this page.


There are a number of projects available within the Expertise topic area.

Perceptual Decision-Making in Australian Football Umpires

This study will examine perceptual decision-making aspects of Australian football umpiring.


The performance of AFL umpires is critical to the outcome of a game, yet they are often3wby players, coaches and the media regarding match performances. Despite their potential game impact, scientific research regarding methods to assess and improve performance is lacking. Potential opportunities exist for honours students to complete a research project with the Australian Football League Umpiring Department related to:

  • match performance analysis
  • testing
  • laboratory based studies
  • video based decision making
  • talent identification
  • training and performance.


Dr Nathan Elsworthy |
and Dr Paul Larkin.

The Victoria University and the Western Bulldogs Partnership: Evaluating the Student Experience

The project will involve developing the survey instrument and recording both qualitative and quantitative data. The project will be supported by both VU and WB in terms of access to data and relevant contacts. The final report of the project will be an important part of the celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the VU/WB partnership and the VU Centenary in 2016.


Victoria University and Western Bulldogs have over the last 10 years developed a unique partnership – as part of the partnership many VU students have undertaken valuable work experiences with the Western Bulldogs.

We are now looking for a student to undertake a research project to examine the experiences of students who have undertaken work integrated learning with the Western Bulldogs and the impact on their subsequent career paths and decisions.

Students generally spend up to 140 hours with the Western Bulldogs in a role related to their course of study, over the years several have gained full time work with the organisation, other have developed networks and skills critical to their career development – the study seeks to understand more about these kinds of experiences.


Professor Damian Farrow |

Skill Acquisition: Why Would You Want to Work in Skill Acquisition?

This project aims to explore why people choose to work in skill acquisition and then investigate the careers and career pathways in skill acquisition as well as what a career in skill acquisition entails. The honours student involved in this project will get to speak to a range of key people in skill acquisition in Australia and at different levels of the exercise and sport science industry.

Surveys of students in exercise and sport science courses as well as surveys and interviews with skill acquisition specialists at elite sport clubs, institutes of sport, in private practice and at universities will be conducted.

This project would especially suit a student with an interest in skill acquisition, exercise and sport science, and exercise and sport science service provision in elite sport.


Associate Professor Michael Spittle |

Professor Damian Farrow |

Genes, Performance & Injury

There is currently 1 project available within the Genes, Performance and Injury topic area.

The Influence of Genetic Markers on Adaptations to Exercise Training

The purpose of the Speed Gene study is to identify genetic markers that influence the individual differences in training response.

This study has the potential to lead to PhD research within the “Genes and Performance” research group, on the influence of our genes on muscle adaptations to exercise training.


The concept of individual differences in the response to exercise training, or trainability, has been proposed for the last three decades. For example, researchers have shown that changes in aerobic capacity, vary markedly in a group of sedentary adults performing similar training.

Recently, we have also shown large individual variability for changes in mitochondrial function (respiration) in response to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

While environmental factors, such as training and diet contribute to individual differences in the training response, recent twin and family studies suggest that ~50% of the variance can be explained by genetic factors. These genetic factors are usually called genetic variants, which when inherited, may affect the training response.


Dr Nir Eynon |

Skeletal Muscle & Training

There are a number of projects available within the Skeletal Muscle & Training topic area.

Effect of concurrent exercise order on molecular and whole-body skeletal muscle adaptations

This project is suited to someone who is passionate about exercise physiology and skeletal muscle adaptations, and looking to gain further experience conducting research.

Study the effects of concurrent exercise order on molecular responses and whole-body training adaptations in recreationally-active males.

In support of a major ongoing project, you will gain experience conducting laboratory-based physiological and performance tests (ie. 1-RM strength, countermovement jump, isometric squats, and VO2max tests), supervising resistance and endurance exercise training sessions, and support the running of muscle biopsy trials.

You will also be able to gain experience assisting the subsequent biochemical analyses on the muscle samples (i.e. westerns blotting, PCR, muscle glycogen assays), which will be used to determine novel mechanisms underpinning any concurrent training interference effect.


Concurrent training involves performing both endurance (i.e. cardio) and resistance exercises (i.e. weights) in the same training program.

It offers a promising training strategy for both athletes and recreationally-active people to simultaneously develop contrasting skeletal muscle adaptations (i.e. endurance and strength).

It is widely recommended for a range of healthy and diseased populations. However, several studies have shown that the addition of endurance exercise to a resistance training program may interfere with hallmark resistance adaptations such as strength, muscle mass and power, compared to performing resistance-only training. This is known as the “interference effect”.

The precise causes of this effect remain a contentious research topic, but are suggested to be influenced by training variables (e.g. exercise order, frequency, intensity, duration etc.) and competing molecular factors in the muscle initiated by endurance and resistance exercise.


Professor David Bishop

HEAT: Heat Effects on Adaptations to Resistance Training

This project aims to determine whether performing resistance training in a hot environment will amplify muscular adaptations to training and better enhance speed, power and agility.

Resistance training in heat has been shown to enhance strength, protein synthesis and muscle remodelling, but its effects on speed, power and agility are unknown.

The performance outcomes will be highly relevant to all athletes for whom speed, power and agility is important for sporting success. This research has the potential to enhance current training practice and thus promote optimal performance.


Dr Aaron Petersen |

Optimising Training to Improve Skeletal Muscle Adaptations and Performance

This project aims to optimise adaptations to training by investigating the influence of important training variables such as volume, intensity, duration, as well as the effects of manipulating nutrition and the environment (e.g., hypoxia).

The Honours student involved in this project will get the opportunity to learn how to perform physiological evaluations of participants, as well as measure adaptations in the muscle.


Professor David Bishop |

Team Sports

There is currently 1 project available within the Team Sports topic area.

Does Concussion Knowledge Correlate with Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Concussion?

The objective of this study is to extend on our previous data on apparent contradictions in beliefs and attitudes towards concussion.

As our previous study did not take into account knowledge, the aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between knowledge of concussion injuries and its impact on student attitudes towards concussion. 

Ethics approval for this project has been granted.


Further to recent previous studies currently under peer review, the aim of this study is to investigate in undergraduate exercise science students if the level of concussion knowledge correlates to attitudes towards concussion.

Despite some studies suggesting education influences concussion reporting attitudes in US Collegiate student-athletes, evidence to date is mixed.

For example, Torres et al. (2013) reported that whilst concussion education is clearly important, their findings of over 1 in 5 student-athletes not reporting concussion, suggested that receiving education would not motivate them to report concussion in the future.

Similarly Chrisman et al. (2013) also suggested that college/varsity athletes will hesitate reporting their injury, particularly if there was no significant pain or observable disability.

More recently our preliminary study (Pearce et al. 2016), suggested that despite undergraduate exercise science students supporting that concussions were detrimental to long-term brain health, their attitudes towards concussion contradicted this view (for example playing on after a concussion).


Dr Janet Young |

Quantifying Adolescent Male Soccer using Different GPS Systems

This research study aims to evaluate the difference in metrics derived from two different GPS devices across a season in youth soccer teams (Avondale Heights Football Club; U12 and U15 teams). The study uses both manufacturer-derived data processing algorithms and analysis of the raw data to establish the deviation due to the devices (e.g. sampling rates) themselves. The project involves attending team training and games to set up two devices on each player (10 players per team) and collect and download data across the season. This work is intended to be published, and the data will contribute to training load information used in a separate study looking at eccentric training in the same cohort.


There are a number of global positioning system (GPS) devices designed to track athlete movements in sports training and competition. Differences exist between manufacturers in terms of device sampling rates, and the filtering algorithms used to clean up GPS data. It seems likely that these differences would contribute to deviation between devices in GPS-derived metrics that applied sport practitioners (coaches, sport scientists, conditioning staff) use to monitor and prescribe training loads. However, the magnitude of deviations between devices has not been assessed across repeated training and games in a competitive sport season.


Dr Andre Nelson (VU) & Dr Grant Duthie (ACU).


Dr Andre Nelson |

Further information

General enquiries about the Honours program can be directed to the Honours Coordinator, Senior Lecturer Dr Aaron Petersen.