Institution (Location)
Physical Activity Research Group at CQUniversity Australia
Start Date
August 3, 2017
$26,628AUD per year
Position Description

PhD Scholarship – Examining the effectiveness of an innovative technology-based health behaviour change intervention”



1       Purpose



Become a PhD-student (includes a 3-year scholarship, $26,628AUD per year) in the vibrant Physical Activity Research Group at CQUniversity and contribute to National Heart Foundation funded research that involves Examining the effectiveness of an innovative technology-based health behaviour change intervention, under the supervision of Professor Corneel Vandelanotte. Your research will be focused on an e- or mHealth intervention (website, app, tracker and/or computer-tailoring) to improve one or more health behaviours (e.g., physical activity, sleep, sitting time, diet, weight maintenance/loss) in a population group of your choice (e.g., older adults, cancer survivors, people with diabetes or depression, children). The research group includes 15 staff, hosts the world-famous 10,000 Steps Australia program  and has been very successful in securing prestigious grants and fellowships. More info: and [email protected].


About the Physical Activity Research Group

The PhD Candidate will be part of the vibrant Physical Activity Research Group at CQUniversity’s North Rockhampton campus. The research group includes 15 staff with a strong focus on innovative interventions to improve health behaviours for the prevention of chronic disease. The Group hosts the world-renowned 10,000 Steps Program, a web- and smartphone-based physical activity program with over 350,000 registered participants and over 50,000 app downloads. It also works with the University’s Population Research Laboratory, conducting annual population surveys (telephone, online) in health and social behaviours. In the last 5 years, the Physical Activity Research Group has secured over $5M of funds (mostly through NHMRC, ARC and NHF grants, as well as through Queensland Government support). The Group has secured 7 competitive Fellowships (4 Early Career NHMRC, 1 NHF post-doc, and 2 NHF Future Leader Fellowships) and was involved in securing 6 Project Grants (NHMRC, ARC, NHF). In the last two years, researchers have published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in high quality journals. The Physical Activity Research Group collaborates with a number of internationally renowned research groups based in Australia, Europe and North America (e.g., The University of Newcastle, Ghent University, University of Alberta). This scholarship will provide the PhD Candidate with a strong research environment with ample opportunities for research collaborations at the national and international level.


2       Scope

The Scholarship will be awarded by the University through a competitive selection process.  Individual applications will be ranked on the basis of merit and responses to the selection criteria.


3           procedure

Project Summary

The majority of people do not meet the health guidelines for a range of health behaviours (e.g., physical activity, diet, sleep, sitting time, weight). Due to the scale of the problem it is not possible to offer support and guidance to improve health behaviours on an individual basis. Therefore, we need methods that can effectively reach large numbers of people at low cost. Technology-based (e.g., websites, smartphone apps, activity trackers) interventions offer such opportunities, and while many such interventions have demonstrated good improvements in adopting healthy behaviours, people often don’t engage with the interventions for very long. Therefore, we need to develop new interventions that are more engaging for people to use so that long-term behaviour change can be established. Such interventions are usually theory-based and may include interactive components that provide social support, individual feedback (i.e. computer-tailoring), connect with social networks, offer options for self-monitoring and goal setting or other elements. In consultation with Prof Vandelanotte, the applicant will be free to choose a preferred population (e.g. office workers, older adults), health behaviour (e.g., physical activity, sleep) and technology to work with (web/app/tracker, within budgetary constraints). However, the proposed research must be significant, relevant, innovative and advance the field of research.


The student will gain key skills and training in fundamental higher degree research including systematic literature searches, study design, qualitative and quantitative research methods, data collection and analyses, project management, statistics and scientific writing.


The student will be hosted by CQUniversity, North Rockhampton campus, with opportunity to collaborate with researchers of the other universities. Selection of applicants will be based on merit. 


The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Professor Vandelanotte and one or more co-supervisors.

Candidate’s Qualifications (who should apply)

Eligibility and Selection Criteria  

3.1    To be eligible for the Scholarship, an applicant:

a)   Must have completed a Bachelor Degree with Honours I or IIA, a Master’s Degree or be regarded by CQUniversity as having an equivalent level of attainment. The degree should be in the field of public health, psychology, sport and exercise science, social science, or another relevant field.

b)   Can be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident of Australia.

c)   Can be an international student

d)   Must be approved for admission and enrolling in, a Doctor of Philosophy program at CQUniversity.

e)   Must enrol full-time and be an internal candidate at CQUniversity’s North Rockhampton campus.

f)    Must not previously have held a Commonwealth Government-funded or CQUniversity-funded postgraduate research scholarship, unless it was terminated within six months of the scholarship’s payments commencing; and

g)   Must not be receiving an equivalent award, scholarship or salary providing a benefit greater than 75% of the Scholarship stipend rate to undertake a research higher degree.


3.2       Applications are invited from candidates who have

a)   experience with qualitative and/or quantitative research

b)   experience with statistical analysis

c)    demonstrable abilities to review and critique literature extensively

d)   strong academic writing skills

e)   excellent communication skills and who are able to engage with study participants and community organisations

f)     strong planning and organisational skills, with the ability to work systematically and independently to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines

g)   well-developed computer skills, including experience with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Endnote, and SPSS or similar statistical software

3.3       Expertise in health psychology, health promotion, public health and/or chronic disease prevention is essential. 

3.4       The successful applicant will be required to publish scientific and peer-reviewed papers related to their thesis during the period of candidature.

3.5       The successful candidate may potentially travel for data collection purposes around Australia, and/or to (inter)national conferences.

3.6       The successful applicant must commence their candidature in 2017.


International students are welcome to apply as international student fees may be waived, however this cannot be guaranteed at this point in time.


Tenure of award

3.7       The period of tenure for the funded Scholarship is three (3) years, and the PhD-thesis needs to be submitted within 4 years from the commencement date.

How to Apply

Location: Central Queensland University, North Rockhampton Campus (the candidate must be on campus, those who cannot live in Rockhampton during their PhD-studies are not encouraged to apply).


Scholarship Value: $26,628 (per annum)


Length of Scholarship: 3 years


Number Available: One


Opening Date: 27 July 2017


Closing Date:  08 September 2017


Submit your Application:

1.    The candidate should be able to commence in the position as soon as they are available, in 2017. The application should be submitted by e-mail to ([email protected]) no later than close of business (5.00 pm AEST) on 08 September 2017. The commencement date is negotiable.


2.    Please include: 

·       A letter of motivation describing your skills and research expertise 

·       Your current resume and a list of your publications and projects

·       A list of three references together with contact information 


For more information, contact Professor Vandelanotte at: [email protected] or Ph: +61 (07) 4923 2183.

+61 (07) 4923 2183


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