PhD Studentship: Intersections Between Gender, Leadership, Diplomacy and Sport

About us

We are looking for a motivated student to join the Institute of Sport at the University of Hertfordshire, in this exciting opportunity. This fully funded PhD project seeks to explore the intersection of gender identity, leadership, diplomacy and sport.

About the project

There has been an increasing interest in the sports diplomacy field to understand non-traditional sports diplomacy. This has focused on elite athletes as often unintentional diplomats, however there has been limited attention to sport leaders as diplomats, despite the prominent roles they play in managing sport.

A recent literature review also identified a lack of representation of non-dominant gender identities in sports diplomacy research (Postlethwaite et al., 2022). Furthermore, there has also been a recent call for a better understanding of how diplomacy is operationalised through sporting practices (Jenkin, 2023), to ensure its benefits can be maximised in an inclusive manner.

Therefore, this PhD will explore the complexities of gender identity, leadership, diplomacy and sport. This will aim to better understand how non-dominant gender identity leaders navigate both the traditional and non-traditional structures of sport as diplomats, and understanding the similarities and differences between sports leaders who are either intentional or unintentional diplomats. The project should also take into consideration the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality and the UK Sport International Relations strategic aim to “develop and implement an ambitious sport diplomacy strategy.” The final aspect of this project is to develop a toolkit to better prepare people to act as a sports diplomat.

We welcome applications from a variety of disciplines, encompassing qualitative and/or quantitative methodological approaches.


Jenkin, C. (2023). What do we know and understand about sports diplomacy?  

Postlethwaite, V., Jenkin, C., & Sherry, E. (2022). A gendered focused review of sports diplomacy. In G. Molnar & R. Bullingham (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Gender Politics in Sport and Physical Activity (pp. 137-148). Routledge.

United Nations. (2016). The Role of Sport in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

UK Sport. (2021). International Relations (2021-2026) .


  • Dr. Claire Jenkin (Principal Supervisor)
  • Dr. Verity Postlethwaite (Second Supervisor)
  • Professor Elizabeth Pike (Third Supervisor/Advisor)

Entry requirements

  • A first-class or upper-second undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (essential)
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject or equivalent (essential)
  • Knowledge of sports diplomacy (desirable)
  • Knowledge of female leadership in sport (desirable)


This opportunity is open to all UK nationals who are appropriately qualified candidates.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to the Doctoral College at [email protected] , using the following format in the email subject line: “Institute of Sport_PhD diplomacy_YOUR NAME”:

  • A completed application form (available here )
  • Two academic references (referees can send references directly to the UH Doctoral College at [email protected]  using same subject, or complete Part B on the application form)
  • Copies of qualification certificates and transcripts
  • Certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

For enquiries regarding research degrees and general queries on the application process at the University of Hertfordshire, please contact [email protected] .

For informal enquiries about this project, please contact Dr. Claire Jenkin at [email protected]  (until 26th June) or Dr. Verity Postlethwaite at [email protected]  (between 27th June-7th July). 

Interviews will take place in late July 2023.

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