PhD Studentship A systems theory approach to the health effects of vacationing in England and growing visitor economy

Holidays have various benefits for health and wellbeing, which can range from improved mental health, reductions in stress levels and increased physical activity. The importance of this aspect of holidaymaking is unmeasured and under-, or even un-valued. There is therefore a need to understand these links better and to estimate how important they are. There have been very few studies that have examined quality of life and subjective wellbeing in terms of health value in relation to tourism and none that have particularly attempted to apply measures to assess the health value and benefits of holidays. The aim of the research therefore is to:

Critically analyse the relationship between wellbeing, quality of life and holiday participation, in order to provide a theoretical framework and sufficiently robust data base to inform policy.

The only area where there is some knowledge of these benefits is in social tourism, a term denoting holidaymaking by those who would not normally be able to, or would not be able to afford to, take a holiday. In the UK, this is supported by a number of charitable organisations. It has become a flagship tourism policy in the EU, combining aspects of social integration, sustainability and economic regeneration. However, an alternative position is to consider the value in terms of health effect and as a tool to reduce inequality. Various studies have highlighted the importance of rest and recuperation from work, as well as the provision of new experiences, leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication, personal and social development such as visiting friends and family and religious pilgrimage and health (McCabe et al, 2010). There has been little advancement within the literature on developing theory within this topic or on the impact of holidays on wellbeing, hence the potential for tourism as an effective tool for health intervention has not been explored and as such makes this project unique. There is a global movement recognising that the health of the population is not merely the responsibility of the health services but is a wide multi-sectoral social issue. This is enshrined within the WHO Healthy Cities initiative which engages local governments in health development through a process of political commitment, institutional change, capacity-building, partnership-based planning and innovative projects (WHO, 2011). In recent years, there has been a broad consensus in UK and international health policy that disease prevention is not only better than cure, but very often a more efficient investment in the long run (Wanless, 2002).

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Eligibility Criteria

Candidates for this fully-funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years. All candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2.1) and/or an appropriate Masters degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project.

For details on how to apply please visit
For project details please contact To discuss this opportunity further please contact Dr Heather Hartwell

Closing Date

The first call for applications will close on 21st June 2013.

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