Sarah Gilchrist, Professional Doctorate Graduate

Sarah Gilchrist is the first student to successfully complete a Professional Doctorate course with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Kent.

The skills she developed now support her current role as a self-employed sports performance consultant. Here is a brief overview of her experience:

What influenced your decision to study the Professional Doctorate (PD)?

The flexible nature of the PD and the fact I could relate it heavily to my work programme so it could be integrated into my daily work role.

 Why did you choose the University of Kent?

My supervisor (Louis Passfield) was based there. Louis was already consulting with the English Institute of Sport, where I worked at the time, so we’d had some conversations once I expressed an interest and had researched universities that offered a Professional Doctorate in my area.

 What did you like most about the course?

The flexibility of the PD and the fact I could be creative with ideas and not constrained by research protocols and strict guidelines on how the PD had to be presented

What were the relationships like between you and your lecturers?

It was only myself and my supervisors; it was a very open, communicative relationship.  I was given freedom to express my ideas, with confidence, and was challenged sufficiently but not in a negative way

What were some of the key skills that you learnt during your time?

  • Being adaptable to how you think the thesis will look in the final edit.
  • I liked the professional practice aspect too as it allowed me to consolidate my work experience to date and display the level of knowledge and experience I had gained from my years of working prior to starting the PD
  • Writing skills – 55000 is a lot of writing!

How has this qualification contributed towards your career?

This course has reinforced my level of technical knowledge (in sleep) and enhanced my positionality as an experience practitioner in the high performance sport system

How did you apply the skills you developed during the course into your role at work?

The skills I developed in writing encouraged me to proactively formalise work projects in terms of writing reports and presenting technical knowledge.

What are your career plans for the future?

I would like to disseminate knowledge gained during my PD and wider work experience.

How has this qualification helped your personal development?

I have become more confident due to feeling more on a level playing field with peers

What advice could you give postgraduate sport students?

To ensure your thesis is something you have a genuine passion for. To complete this course they will need to love exploring and disseminating information about it.

Why should others choose this course?

  • Adaptability to coincide with a busy work schedule.  Actual work programme objectives and ‘live’ projects can be incorporated in to the PD.
  • Its manageable to do (part time) with a job and children!

You can find our more about the Professional Doctorate programme, or other postgraduate programmes with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences please visit our website . You can also find out more information by emailing