Fully Funded PhD: A mixed-method approach to understanding predictive talent scouts’ judgements in professional football

  • DeadlineDeadline: 15 July 2024.
  • North West, All EnglandNorth West, All England


As talent recruitment in high-performance sport moves towards more data-driven forecasting models there is a need to understand how we combine both objective and subjective information to make more accurate predictions and determine what information is required to optimise these judgements.

In collaboration with Manchester United FC and MMU, a 3-year PhD studentship has arisen within the Manchester United FC scouting department to conduct research related to talent recruitment.

The overarching aim of the PhD is to design an accurate and resilient operational model to better understand how talent scouts at Manchester Utd FC document, validate and monitor their selection judgements and how these judgements complement the data analytics provided by the data science department. 

This PhD will be addressing a complex problem and therefore will need to be solution-focused and translational in nature. It will need to draw on various disciplines with the goal of integrating insights to develop our understanding.


The aim is to review the current Manchester United FC recruitment framework(s), validate the subjective judgements of talent scouts and implement an internal scout development framework.

This project will aim to answer the following research questions:

  • What is the current research landscape regarding documenting, validating and monitoring scouting judgements in professional football?
  • What is the language, terminology and textual architecture adopted by Manchester Utd talent scouts?
  • What level of consensus (which is to say validity and reliability) exists between the Manchester Utd FC player selection attributes and at-distance talent scouts?
  • What do talent scouts look for and think when undertaking a scouting exercise?
  • How do talent scouts document, validate and monitor their selection judgements?

Entry Requirements

  • A first class or upper second-class (2:1) degree (or equivalent) in a sport-related discipline.
  • One year minimum experience in providing/supporting talent recruitment or scouting expertise in performance sport
  • An ability to critique and analyse scientific evidence, methodology and data
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and organisational skills
  • Experience of using online scouting/recruitment platforms (such as WyScout/Hudl)
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office
  • MSc or research masters in a sport-related discipline.
  • Sports Science/Sports Medicine/Performance Analysis accreditation (i.e., BASES etc.)
  • Completion of Talent Identification and Scouting in Football Award (Level 2).
  • Proficient at conducting database searching and evidence of synthesis. 
  • Competent with associated video technology


This is a full-time, funded PhD opportunity in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. It is open to both home and overseas students. Please note that only Home fees will be covered - eligible overseas students will need to make up the difference in tuition fee funding.

This opportunity provides an annual stipend of the research council minimum rate (set by UKRI) of £19,237 for 2024/25.

How To Apply

Interested applicants should contact Professor Warren Gregson for an informal discussion.

To apply you will need to complete the online application form for a full-time PhD in Sports Science (Performance) (or download the PGR application form).

You should also complete the (Narrative CV) form addressing the project’s aims and objectives, demonstrating how the skills you have maps to the area of research and why you see this area as being of importance and interest. 

If applying online, you will need to upload your statement in the supporting documents section, or email the application form and statement to

Closing date: 15 July 2024.

Expected start date: October 2024.

Please quote the reference: SciEng-WG-2024-talent-scouts

Who is eligible to apply?

Open to both home and overseas students. Please note that only Home fees will be covered - eligible overseas students will need to make up the difference in tuition fee funding.

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