2021: February and July

4 years

2021: A$14,850*
* fee per semester

Application due dates:
We are currently accepting applications for this course.


Become a leading researcher and adviser in sport and recreation, with a PhD from VU. We offer world-class research facilities, top industry collaborations, and expert support and guidance.

Sport & Recreation doctoral research at VU

VU is a leader in sport studies. Our research in human movement and sports science was recently rated 'well above world standard' by Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).

PhD in Sport & Recreation candidates choose their topic from our interdisciplinary research focus areas, in which you can contribute to real innovation in public policy, community and professional sport.

Our high-performance in sport and healthy populations programs are undertaken in our newly formed Institute for Health & Sport, and include:

  • clinical exercise science
  • GPS devices in sport
  • medical physiology and metabolism
  • social health and wellbeing
  • sport in society
  • sport leadership
  • sport science.

You’ll benefit from our $68 million high-technology teaching and research facility at Footscray Park, and our expert teaching staff aligned with our research institutes.

Your original PhD thesis will be at the forefront of the sport and recreation research field. You’ll learn to present and defend your findings in publications and conferences.

VU has a $68 million high-technology teaching and research facility at Footscray Park. It is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary teaching, research, and engagement in sport and exercise science.

Our 29 new labs are fitted with the latest technology and equipment. They are used by professional sports team and community organisations. Facilities include biomechanics, biochemistry and exercise physiology labs in purpose-built research and teaching areas.

Our staff contribute important ideas to the sport, exercise and health industries, for example:

VU has partnerships and collaborations with dozens of public and private sporting institutes. We also work with other universities to provide the highest-level expertise and resources for our students.

Our strategic partners include local and international sporting bodies, and health institutes:

  • Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
  • Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science AIMSS
  • Western Bulldogs Football Club
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Australian Sports Commission
  • Loughborough University (UK)
  • Victorian Institute of Sport
  • Australian Football League
  • German Sports University
  • INSEP French institute of Sport
  • Aspire/Aspetar (Qatar)
  • ARC Linkage Grants
  • SPLISS Consortia
  • Tennis Australia
  • Sportscover
  • VicHealth, including Victorian Health Promotion.

When you undertake a doctoral degree at VU, you’ll specialise in one of our areas of research focus. These are supported by expertise from the University, research partners, institutes and research centres.

We are committed to undertaking high-impact research that shapes healthier, smarter and more sustainable communities across six interdisciplinary areas of research focus.

Our Sport and Recreation PhD students will be particularly interested in:

We offer various research scholarships for our PhD students. Victoria University has several generous research scholarships for successful applicants. There are also externally funded scholarships from dozens of organisations, some of which are aimed at postgraduate students.

Our Elite Athlete scholarships focus particularly on sporting disciplines, creating a high-performance community of international athletes and scholars.


VU Research gives you opportunities to:

  • connect with other researchers
  • participate in research festivals and competitions
  • develop your research skills
  • get funding for your research
  • publish and promote your findings.

We offer support for graduate researchers including:

Find out more about graduate opportunities at VU.

Course e-Brochure

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Be part of an active and committed research community

Get expert guidance in our well-equipped labs and research facilities

Careers in sport and recreation research

A PhD in Sport and Recreation can lead to high-level work in government, the sport and recreation industries, or academia.

Use Job Outlook to find average salaries in Australia for various professions:

Course structure

The PhD is a research based degree with a maximum duration of 4 years (full time) and 8 years (part time).
As well as enrolling in Research Thesis units Doctor of Philosophy (Science) students will be required to complete two coursework units, ROP8001 and ROP8002.

An average result of 70% is required in the compulsory coursework units in order to proceed to candidature confirmation. Ongoing progression is subject to policy and procedures for candidature management as per the VU HDR Policy.

Coursework Units

Elective unit

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. expert understanding of a substantial body of theory and its practical application at the frontier of a field of work or learning, including substantial expert knowledge of ethical research principles and methods applicable to the field.  
  2. intellectual independence and cognitive skills to undertake a systematic investigation, reflect critically on theory and practice and evaluate existing knowledge and ideas, including identifying, evaluating and critically analysing the validity of research studies and their applicability to a research problem.  
  3. expert cognitive, technical and creative skills to: design, develop and implement a research project/s to systematically investigate a research problem; develop, adapt and implement research methodologies to extend and redefine existing knowledge; manage, analyse, evaluate and interpret data, synthesising key ideas and theorising within the context of key literature.  
  4. expert communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions; to disseminate and promote new insights; and to cogently present a complex investigation of originality, or original research, both for external examination and to specialist (eg researcher peers) and non-specialist (industry and/or community) audiences through informal interaction, scholarly publications, reports and formal presentations.  
  5. capacity to reflect on, develop and evaluate strategies for achieving their own learning and career goals.  
  6. intellectual independence, initiative and creativity in new situations and/or for further learning.  
  7. ethical practice and full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs.  
  8. autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as an expert and independent scholar.  

What's a unit?

A unit or 'subject' is the actual class you'll attend in the process of completing a course.

Most courses have a mixture of compulsory 'core' units that you need to take and optional elective units that you can choose to take based on your area of interest, expertise or experience.


Each unit is worth a set amount of study credits based on the amount of time you study. Generally, 1 credit is equal to 1 hour of study per week.

Admission & pathways

Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee you entry into this course. Some courses receive more applications than the number of places available. In this situation we will also assess your education, work and other relevant experience.

If you do not meet the minimum requirements you may be eligible for one of our special admission programs. We also encourage you to explore our study pathways to help you reach your goal.

Find out more about how to apply for our courses, and our commitment to admissions transparency.

Entry requirements

Achieved an IELTS, (Academic Module) result with an overall score of 6.5 (no band less than 6) or equivalent and completed a Masters degree or a relevant four year undergraduate degree with Honours or its equivalent at a high standard.

Find out if you meet the entry requirements, including English language and academic requirements.

There are many ways you can start your education journey at VU. Pathways offer an easy transition between courses at different levels, so that you can start with a certificate and progress right through to postgraduate study.

Find out more about pathways and credits.

If you have completed study with another university or institution and believe you are eligible to receive credit for skills and past study, you can apply for advanced standing.

Applications for advanced standing can be made after a discussion with your course chair or academic adviser.

How to apply

We are currently accepting applications for this course.

Methods of applying:

International students can apply directly to Victoria University using our online application system, or apply through an education agent.

Direct online applicationFind an education agent

If you have questions about your application, you can:

Information and fees listed above are for non-resident students. Fees are accurate at the time of viewing and will be subject to annual increases. Some courses require students to purchase equipment or clothing that they will need in the course. These equipment or clothing costs are not included in the course fees listed above – check your Letter of Offer for an estimate on non-tuition-fee-related expenses.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this course information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that course information is current with the Student Contact Centre.