The Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (Honours), Bachelor of Physical Activity and Health Science (Honours) and the Bachelor of High Performance Sport (Honours) are one-year full-time (or equivalent part-time) programs for students who have already completed a relevant Bachelor degree. See below for a list of research projects available in the School across our Brisbane, Melbourne and Strathfield campuses.

Brisbane

There is scope within the school to explore Honours topics in Outdoor Leadership, International Volunteer Programs, Sports Community Engagement Programs and Sport and Physical Activity. These could involve qualitative, quantitative or a mixed-methods approach. It is also possible to combine two areas within the Faculty. For example, the psychological impact of outdoor and environmental education, or the impact of community engagement activities on students’ mental health.

Some specific outdoor projects students could currently be involved in include:

  1. Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Students Graduate attributes, Thresholds Concepts
  2. Connecting Communities to Nature assessing the outcomes of the Nature Stewards program
  3. Outdoor Education in the Victorian Curriculum (must be based in Victoria)
  4. Outdoor Health the emergence of an International movement
  5. Green Scripts for Health and Wellbeing

Supervisors: Dr Beth McLeod and Dr Sandy Allen-Craig

Contact: Beth.Mcleod@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane/Strathfield/Melbourne

A critical aspect of decision-making and a baseball-player’s on the pitch behaviour is their situation awareness (SA), that is, the level of awareness that an individual has of a situation; a player’s dynamic understanding of ‘what is going on around them’ during the game. Research has shown that SA is importantly linked to player’s decision-making development, performance, and rehabilitation. That is, SA: i. can be (and needs to be) developed from a young age, and needs to be promoted and maintained during training; ii. is related to player’s and referee’s performance and expertise; that is, better, more skilled/expert players/referees possess a higher degree of SA; iii. is related to injury proneness, as well as rehabilitation; that is, lowered SA is a precursor to injury, and increased/recovered SA can be used as an identifier for game readiness following rehabilitation. In this honours projects, which takes place in ACU’s Perception-Action Rehabilitation Clinic and Learning Environment (PARCLE), we use Virtual Reality to assist player development, player monitoring, and rehabilitation in baseball.

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping and Mr. Daniel Chalkley

Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au

A critical aspect of decision-making in team-sport and a player’s on the pitch behaviour is their situation awareness (SA), that is, the level of awareness that an individual has of a situation; a player’s dynamic understanding of ‘what is going on around them’ during the game. Research has shown that SA is importantly linked to player’s decision-making, development, performance, and rehabilitation. That is, SA: i. can be (and needs to be) developed from a young age and needs to be promoted and maintained during training; ii. is related to player’s and referee’s performance and expertise; that is, better, more skilled/expert players/referees possess a higher degree of SA; iii. is related to injury proneness, as well as rehabilitation; that is, lowered SA is a precursor to injury, and increased/recovered SA can be used as an identifier for game readiness following rehabilitation. We have a number of honours projects, in which we use a wireless wearable technology system (SATS) to assist player development, player monitoring, and rehabilitation in team-sport (soccer, field-hockey, AFL) to address important research questions in skill acquisition and SA.

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisors: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping and Mr. Daniel Chalkley

Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an age-related neurodegenerative condition characterised by slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, and resting tremor, but as the disease progresses postural instability and gait difficulties begin to affect activities of daily living. Declines in physical functioning effectively expose people with PD to a nine times greater risk of recurrent falls, and a five times greater risk of sustaining fall-related injuries compared with healthy individuals of a similar age. Prospective research shows more than 50% of falls experienced by people with PD occur during walking or transferring tasks, implicating postural instability and gait difficulties as likely contributors to a large percentage of the falls experienced by this population. The proposed Honours project would provide the student with an opportunity to apply principles of biomechanics, motor control and neuroscience to better understand the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and investigate their potential role in the falls experienced by this population.

Supervisor: Dr Michael Cole

Contact: Michael.Cole@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane

Oxytocin (OT) is a protein-based biomarker that has been hypothesized as a physiological mediator of an integrated ‘anti-stress’ response attributable to social affiliation, with resulting long-term health benefits and that facilitates socio-cognitive responses. Although there is considerable support for the idea that OT is involved in the encouragement of important processes linked to greater performance in sport, empirical support for this association is preliminary and limited to laboratory studies, making it difficult to generalise them to elite sport environments. What’s more, there is very limited knowledge about the individual differences in athlete oxytocin reactivity. In this honours project, we will develop a methodology to study the association between social cognition, sport performance and oxytocin (OT).

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Dr. Francesca Fernandez

Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au

Gait-related falls are a large public health burden, and both the sheer number of gait-related falls, and the associated societal costs continue to increase. Recent research has shown that an individual’s ability to adapt their gait is an important factor related to gait-related falls and mobility as people age. In the current honours project, which takes place in ACU’s Perception-Action Rehabilitation Clinic and Learning Environment (PARCLE), we will use Virtual Reality and the task of bushwalking as an activity that can improve gait adaptability of community dwelling older adults. Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

With the development of microtechnology, data analytics is providing insight into sport like never before. This information is being used to inform training practice and support the development of elite athletes. This Honours project will allow a candidate to use real world data to investigate the match and training demands of elite rugby union players. Furthermore, this project will allow the candidate to influence real-world practice with their findings. This project is ideal for a candidate who enjoys sport, large data sets, and technology, and is open to individuals from a range of backgrounds (e.g., sport science, sports engineering, data science).

Supervisor: Dr Jonathon Weakley

Contact: Jonathon.Weakley@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane

Velocity-based training (VBT) can be used to enhance physical adaptations and allow for improved resistance training prescription. Furthermore, it can help autoregulate training loads and mitigate the effects of fatigue from previous training sessions. This Honours project will allow a candidate to investigate how VBT can alter the training response and enhance training quality when athletes are in a fatigued state and need to maximise power outputs. Furthermore, this project will influence real-world practice and help drive better training prescription. This project is ideal for a candidate who enjoys strength training, team sports, and strength and conditioning.

Supervisor: Dr Jonathon Weakley

Contact: Jonathon.Weakley@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane

This project explores the predictors and correlations of in-competition performance outcomes of Australian and international powerlifters. Investigations will be conducted using already collected data in Australian and international powerlifting competitions. Current investigations include an analysis of long-term data to determine the maximal rate of strength gain, correlations of competition tactics (attempt increases) and overall competition placement and factors influencing in-competition performance. Results of the work contained herein may contribute to development of novel training and competition practices within and external to the sport of powerlifting.

Supervisors: Dr Jemima Spathis and Dr Daniel van den Hoek
Contact: Daniel.VandenHoek@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

Melbourne

There is scope within the school to explore Honours topics in Outdoor Leadership, International Volunteer Programs, Sports Community Engagement Programs and Sport and Physical Activity. These could involve qualitative, quantitative or a mixed-methods approach. It is also possible to combine two areas within the Faculty. For example, the psychological impact of outdoor and environmental education, or the impact of community engagement activities on students’ mental health.

Some specific outdoor projects students could currently be involved in include:

  1. Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Students Graduate attributes, Thresholds Concepts
  2. Connecting Communities to Nature assessing the outcomes of the Nature Stewards program
  3. Outdoor Education in the Victorian Curriculum (must be based in Victoria)
  4. Outdoor Health the emergence of an International movement
  5. Green Scripts for Health and Wellbeing 

Supervisors: Dr Beth McLeod and Dr Sandy Allen-Craig

Contact: Beth.Mcleod@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane/Strathfield/Melbourne

The ability to carry heavy loads is critical to many physically demanding occupations, such as military and fire-fighting. While it is convenient to study load carriage using a treadmill, it remains unknown how or if the energy cost and biomechanics of load carriage differ between treadmill and overground walking. This project, being run in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group), will examine the differences in energy cost between unloaded and loaded walking on a treadmill and overground. There is also the possibility to expand the project to examine differences in gait kinetics and kinematics between the two conditions. In addition to directly informing pack-marching guidelines in the military, the outcomes of this project will also help guide future load carriage research and determine whether a correction factor needs to be added to treadmill data in order to translate findings into real world settings.

Supervisors: Doug Whyte, Paul Tofari and Jace Drain (DST Group) 
Contact: doug.whyte@acu.edu.au

The ability to maintain a coordinated motor output while simultaneously performing a cognitively demanding task is critical for a range of everyday activities.  Dual-tasking can range from the relatively simple (e.g. walking and talking), through to more complex combinations, such as those experienced by athletes and emergency responders; where rapid decision making in response to multiple stimuli is required while under a high degree of physical strain.  This project aims to validate a new method for assessing dual task performance using a non-motorised treadmill.  This cross disciplinary project is ideal for a candidate looking to extend their understanding of motor control, biomechanics and physiology.

Supervisor: Dr Doug Whyte

Contact: Doug.Whyte@acu.edu.au

Campus: Melbourne

Eye tracking is a tool that allows the collection of non-invasive data that can obtain a lot of unconscious information. Eye tracking technology records eye movements during real-world activities and is useful to help understand decision making processes and attention during different tasks. This information can be being used to inform training practice and support the development of elite sportsman. This Honours project will allow a candidate to use real world data to investigate the attention and decision-making demands of current AFL Umpires. Furthermore, this project will allow the candidate to influence real-world practice with their findings. This project is ideal for a highly motivated candidate who enjoys AFL, working with technology and analysing and investigating large data sets. This project will be undertaken in conjunction with Professor Damion Farrow who is a skill acquisition expert and is currently the AFL Umpiring Coaching and Innovation Manager.

Supervisor: Dr Jodi Sita
Contact: Jodi.Sita@acu.edu.au

Maintaining hydration is important for optimal performance.  To date, most research on dehydration has looked at physiological aspects, such as changes in cardiovascular function and thermoregulation.  However, there is growing evidence to suggest dehydration may also affect cognition and skilled movement.  Performance of skilled movement requires an individual to be appropriately balanced; therefore any disruptions in balance, because of dehydration, will likely have a negative impact on athletic performance.  This project will examine whether dehydration impacts static balance and would be ideal for a candidate with an interest in both motor control and physiology.

Supervisor: Dr Doug Whyte

Contact: Doug.Whyte@acu.edu.au

Campus: Melbourne

High intensity acceleration, deceleration and rapid change of direction (e.g. sidestep cutting) efforts are common in many popular sports. However, such tasks are also commonly associated with injury to the lower body. These injuries often include hamstring strain injuries, groin strain injuries, calf strain injuries, anterior cruciate ligament rupture, and ankle sprains. Despite the association of these injuries with the aforementioned high intensity tasks, little is known about the musculoskeletal demands of performing such tasks. Musculoskeletal modelling allows for the estimation of quantities that are otherwise impossible to measure during high intensity movements, including the forces and strains experienced by muscles, tendons and ligaments. This project will utlise musculoskeletal modelling to predict muscle, tendon, and ligament forces and strains during acceleration, deceleration and sidestep cutting tasks. Three-dimensional motion capture data, ground reaction forces and muscle activation (electromyography) data will be collected from participants as they perform the required tasks. This data will then be used in an established musculoskeletal modelling pipeline to estimate key muscle, tendon and ligament forces.

Supervisor: Nirav Maniar
Contact: Nirav.Maniar@acu.edu.au
Campus: Melbourne

Strathfield

Fatigue and depression are commonly reported in stroke survivors and are thought to negatively influence recovery and involvement in rehabilitation. This project will investigate the potential psychological effects of partaking in intensive upper-limb rehabilitation after stroke. It will involve analysing existing questionnaire-response data related to mood symptoms, fatigue and subjective stroke impact, collected before, during and after a 2-week intensive upper-limb program of either Wii-based Movement Therapy or modified Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy. The outcomes of this project will help establish the effects and interaction between rehabilitation and mental health after stroke.

Supervisor: Dr Angelica Thompson-Butel 

Contact: Angelica.ThompsonButel@acu.edu.au 

Campus: Strathfield 

There is scope within the school to explore Honours topics in Outdoor Leadership, International Volunteer Programs, Sports Community Engagement Programs and Sport and Physical Activity. These could involve qualitative, quantitative or a mixed-methods approach. It is also possible to combine two areas within the Faculty. For example, the psychological impact of outdoor and environmental education, or the impact of community engagement activities on students’ mental health.

Some specific outdoor projects students could currently be involved in include:

  1. Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Students Graduate attributes, Thresholds Concepts
  2. Connecting Communities to Nature assessing the outcomes of the Nature Stewards program
  3. Outdoor Education in the Victorian Curriculum (must be based in Victoria)
  4. Outdoor Health the emergence of an International movement
  5. Green Scripts for Health and Wellbeing

Supervisors: Dr Beth McLeod and Dr Sandy Allen-Craig

Contact: Beth.Mcleod@acu.edu.au

Campus: Brisbane/Strathfield/Melbourne

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are commonly used in team sports to quantify the demands of competition and training. Previously, the validity of these systems has been established using discreet running activities. However, in a practical setting GPS are regularly used over longer durations (2 to 45 minutes). Therefore there is a need to investigate the ability of GPS to quantify the running activities over durations specific to what they are commonly used for. This project will use the VICON system as the criterion measure to compare outputs from various GPS systems. The outcomes of this project will help establish the suitability of using GPS to quantify running activities in team sport athletes.

Supervisors: Dr Grant Duthie 
Contact: grant.duthie@acu.edu.au

More information

If you have any other questions or queries in relation to completing an honours degrees, please contact Dr Doug Whyte, National Course Coordinator via email: doug.whyte@acu.edu.au

 

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