PhD Scholarship: Investigating the neural control of muscle force using intramuscular and surface EMG decomposition


School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Chatham Maritime
Closing date: 
03 March 2017
Dr Mark Burnley

Dr. Mark Burnley invites applications for a full-time PhD Scholarship award that will investigate the neural control of muscle force using intramuscular and surface EMG decomposition.


The decomposition of motor unit action potential trains recorded from intramuscular or surface EMG is a powerful recent development in neurophysiology.  It is a technique that has the potential to reveal key neural control mechanisms during muscular contraction, yet relatively few groups use this technique due to its technical and computational difficulty.  The primary aim of this PhD thesis is to develop, validate and then utilise methods of EMG signal decomposition in order to study the behaviour of individual motor units during muscular contractions.  In doing so, you will study the intensity dependence of motor unit recruitment and rate coding, the effects of fatigue on these processes, and the coherence between motor unit activity and muscle torque output under a variety of experimental conditions.


The successful scholarship candidate will have a keen interest in muscle mechanics or physiology, and have experience of electromyographic analysis. Applicants should have a good Honours degree (at least 2.1 or equivalent) in an appropriate subject.  A Masters degree in a relevant subject is desirable, as is an interest in mathematics evidenced by a relevant A-Level or similar study. More specific details about the project can be obtained by emailing Dr Mark Burnley (

Funding Details

The School of Sport & Exercise Sciences is offering one Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA).  Students engaged as Graduate Teaching Assistants hold a unique position in the University; they are both registered students in receipt of a scholarship award and employees of the University.

The GTA will cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate plus a combined maintenance grant and salary equivalent to the maintenance grant offered by the UK Research Councils (£14,296 in 2016/2017).

The GTA will be offered for one year in the first instance, renewable for a maximum of three years subject to satisfactory academic performance.

Applications to the University of Kent should be completed on-line at

Applicants should also send a CV and covering letter to: Ruth Brown, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent at Medway, Medway Building, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4AG. A hard copy of these can be sent by mail or a scanned copy can be sent to (

The closing date for applications is the 3rd March with interviews provisionally scheduled for 22nd March.

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