The Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (Honours) and the Bachelor of Physical Activity and Health Science (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

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 or Australian Football. 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

Developing methodology to assess oxytocin reactivity

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
Campus: Brisbane

A critical aspect of a team-sport 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 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.

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

Child Exploration and Physical Activity in Play System – CEPAPS

A critical aspect of child play is the accessing of the visual (and other) information of the surrounding opportunities for action – i.e. exploration. Research has shown that this exploration behaviour is importantly linked to a child’s motor-development and physical activity. That is, exploration: i. can be (and needs to be) developed from a very young age, and is promoted and maintained during play; ii. is related to the child’s actions during play, and thereby to physical activity; iii. is related to the child’s motor-development; that is, children at different developmental stages exhibit different exploration; iv. is related to coordination, and as such, exploration can be used as an identifier/precursor to movement/coordination disorders (such as autism, etc.), and measures of exploration can be used in therapy and/or rehabilitation. To assist child development research and educational play-ground design, in the current honours project we will develop and validate a wireless wearable technology system (CEPAPS) that can capture a child’s exploration during play by simultaneously measuring allocentric (child position on the playground), egocentric (head and body movements that accompany and support exploration) and notational (child actions) data.

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

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

In rugby union, recovery following training and matches is essential for optimal development and performance. However, a range of recovery methods are often employed (e.g., hot/cold water immersion, sleep extension, nutritional/supplementation interventions) but are not well understood in elite athlete populations. This Honours project aims to investigate recovery methods that can enhance elite rugby union performance and support training and match outcomes. The candidate will be embedded within a professional Super Rugby club and will be completing research with professional athletes. In conjunction with the industry partner and supervisory team, the candidate will develop a research project that they are passionate about and can support elite rugby union players at the highest level.

Supervisor: Dr Jonathon Weakley
Contact: Jonathon.weakley@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

Australian Football requires players to be strong and powerful. At the highest level (i.e., the Australian Football League), strength and conditioning is an integral aspect of each player’s physical preparation. This Honours project aims to investigate the quantification and physical change of players across a playing season and assess whether acute resistance training variables (e.g., volume, intensity) can positively influence development. The candidate will be embedded within a professional AFL club and will be completing research with players at the highest level. In collaboration with the supervisor team and industry partner (i.e., a Premiership AFL team), the candidate will develop a research project that interests them and will support the understanding of strength and conditioning within elite AFL players.

Supervisor: Dr Jonathon Weakley
Contact: Jonathon.weakley@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

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, Mr. Steven van Andel
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@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

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

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

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

Hamstring strain injuries remain one of the most prevalent injuries in elite and sub-elite sport. Of these cases, the biceps femoris long head (BFlh) has been the hamstring most commonly strained. Recently research has focussed on identifying risk factors that can be modified through various interventions. As such, athletes with low levels of eccentric knee flexor strength and short BFlh fascicle lengths have been shown to be at an increased risk of future injury. Therefore, understanding the alterations in these variables to a training stimulus is important for injury prevention and rehabilitation processes. However, there is a range of exercise interventions that can be implemented to reduce the risk of injury, with a multitude of stimuli. Therefore, this project aims to look at the activation profile of the hamstrings during isometric and eccentric hip extension exercises as well as the architectural and morphological alterations seen following a 6 week training intervention.

Supervisors: Ryan Timmins and David Opar 
Contact: ryan.timmins@acu.edu.au
Campus: Melbourne

Strathfield

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

 

Have a question?

askacu

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat
Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs