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SPHR Fuse (Durham University) Internship: Exploring the effectiveness of ‘Forest Schools’ on the health and development of pre-school aged children

Location: Durham University (remote working will also be possible).
Pay Rate: £2,500 per internship, which will be paid in three instalments.
Start/End Date: July 2021 to August 2021 (internships can be worked on a part-time flexible basis within this time frame; minimum of 6 weeks full-time or 8 weeks part-time. Approximately 225 hours total.)


The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Durham University have two exciting summer internship opportunities available. This is a great opportunity hosted by Fuse and funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (NIHR SPHR), which gives promising undergraduates a first-hand opportunity to gain greater experience of research in public health. We are looking to recruit two undergraduate students with an interest in a career in public health research.

Successful students will be expected to complete a short report at the end of their internship plus either a blog or a practice or public focussed briefing. There may also be opportunity to present a poster at the NIHR SPHR Annual Scientific Meeting in 2022.

The internship positions can be carried out remotely, with regular supervision meetings via Zoom. There will be no expectation for the successful student to relocate to Durham and no additional funding is available for this purpose.

The role

Project title: Exploring the effectiveness of ‘Forest Schools’ on the health and development of pre-school aged children

The successful student will be working on a project exploring the effectiveness and accessibility of ‘Forest Schools’ (an outdoor play-based initiative for children). The overall aim of this project is to conduct a literature review evaluating the effectiveness of Forest Schools on a range of health and developmental indicators of pre-school aged children (e.g. physical activity, emotional development) and to determine accessibility to the programme (based on characteristics such as socioeconomic status and ethnicity). The literature review will be supplemented by discussions with stakeholders and practitioners who lead and engage with the Forest Schools programme in the community. This work will help to determine the effectiveness of the Forest Schools programme on the health and development of pre-school aged children, including whether the programme is accessible to all. Additionally, the review will highlight areas for future research, and policy and practice recommendations may be explored.

The successful candidate will be supported by a multidisciplinary supervisory team: Sophie Phillips (NIHR SPHR PhD Researcher, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University), Dr Frances Hillier Brown (Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition, Newcastle University), Professor Carolyn Summerbell (Professor of Nutrition, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University) and Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith (Assistant Professor in Education, Department of Education, Durham University).

For further information about this project contact: Sophie Phillips, NIHR SPHR PhD Researcher, who will be the main supervisor and main contact for enquiries:

Person Requirements

To be eligible to apply you must be an undergraduate student who is:
• In the middle years of their first degree studies (between years 2 and 3 for students on a 3-year undergraduate programme) or equivalent for 4-year undergraduate programmes
• Registered for a relevant degree at a UK university
• Expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree

Essential Skills/Attributes

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills
• Excellent time management and organisational skills
• Ability to work and think independently and use own initiative
• Strong research skills- demonstrates knowledge and skills required to undertake the project as outlined above
• A keen interest in public health
• Good MSOffice skills
• Has access to a laptop/computer and remote access for working from home
• Has facilities to join supervision meetings remotely i.e. Zoom/Skype/Teams

Degree discipline

Students from all degree disciplines are welcome to apply, but we would suggest the roles would be more suited to someone studying a health-facing degree, including (but not limited to): Public health, sport and exercise sciences, psychology, sociology, or education, with a strong interest in public health research.

How to Apply

To apply we ask that candidates submit a CV (2 page max) and a covering letter (500 words max) which outlines your experience, strengths and potential for the role. Please clearly state which project you are applying for and send your application to:
The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Friday 7th May 2021.
Interviews will take place on Zoom on Friday 4th June 2021.

Apply Now


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