Sport and Exercise Science: Fully Funded KESS II MSc by Research Scholarship: Head Impact Telemetry in Rugby Union: Comparison of Tackle Biomechanics and Head Impact Telemetry

  • Master
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 31 August 2018

\This scholarships is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.\*
MSc by Research Scholarship for UK or EU applicants in the field of: Head Impact Biomechanics
Subject study: Head Impact Telemetry in Rugby Union: Comparison of Tackle Biomechanics and Head Impact Telemetry between Male and Female Rugby Union Players
The issue of repetitive head impacts and brain injury in competitive rugby union is currently dominating headlines. The public focus is primarily on the professional male game, however, researchers have recently found female rugby players to be more susceptible to brain injury than their male counterparts. It is hypothesised that this may also be the case in rugby union but no published scientific studies currently exist to support this. Sports & Wellbeing Analytics Ltd (SWA) in close partnership with Dr Williams and Dr Brown from Swansea University and other commercial partners are developing a bespoke instrumented mouthguard to measure head impact events in the sport of rugby union. This project began in 2016, funded by SWA in conjunction with Ospreys Rugby. This is currently expanding into other Welsh regions, supported by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) including women’s teams. The overall objective of the Look Ahead project is to develop a holistic brain injury management tool. Ultimately this will include individual background medical data, demographics and other measurable quantities from each athlete in addition to regular neurocognitive screening. The ability to accurately, reliably and repeatedly measure valid head impact is the current focus of the Look Ahead project. This is a crucial step and requires significant validation work to be done for quality assurance purposes.
The focus of this MSc work is primarily measuring the head impact dynamics experienced by senior club level and elite female players in training sessions. This will be done using a combination of the bespoke instrumented mouthguards being developed by SWA and Swansea Univeresity and external head-mounted, commercially available head impact telemetry sensors. Pending approval from World Rugby and other governing bodies including British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the student will utilise prototype versions of the instrumented mouthguards to record head impact dynamics from female rugby players in competitive games. It is hypothesised that female players may utilise tackle techniques which minimize head acceleration relative to their male counterparts which is expected to differ significantly between individuals, playing positions, levels of completion, experience, height, weight and age. These data will be compared to that collected by other researchers from male players using the same system. The head impact data from female players will also play an important role in the ongoing development and validation of the mouthguard system. Data collected will also be used by analysts to create algorithms to calculate the centre of mass of typically smaller heads (than professional men).
Scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners including SME’s and micro companies, as well as public and third sector organisations. The scholarship provides 1 year funding with a 3 month period to complete the thesis. The achievement of a postgraduate skills development award, PSDA, is compulsory for each KESS II scholar and is based on a 30 credit award.


Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in sport and exercise science or a related subject. They should also be eligible for UK/EU Fees.
We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –


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The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,586 p.a. dependent upon the applicant’s financial circumstances.  
There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.


Please visit our website for more information.

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