Incentivising physical activity

Understanding and evaluating incentives-based strategies to increase transport-related physical activity

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Physical activity is a modifiable behaviour that reduces the risk of many common and chronic health conditions, yet around half of the adult population in Australia are not active at levels recommended for health benefits. Public transport users tend to be more physically active than those who use private motor vehicles, yet there is a lack of evidence around how to increase public transport use for physical activity gain. Our team has conducted a series of observational and interventional studies designed to better understand public transport use and transport-related physical activity and identify strategies to increase public transport use and physical activity. For instance, in 2019 we commenced the world’s first ever randomised controlled trial to examine the impact of financial incentives on bus use and physical activity. This study was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have received funding to start this work again. This PhD project will use data from both the abandoned study and the new trial commencing in 2023. The aim of the PhD will be to improve understanding of the factors associated with public transport use and physical activity, and to evaluate the effect of an incentives-based intervention on various indicators of public transport and/or physical activity behaviour. It will involve largely quantitative analyses, but there are opportunities to incorporate qualitative research into the PhD if desired. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary team involving academics, policymakers and a public transport provider. The findings will provide insights and key learnings into barriers and enablers to encouraging public transport use as a public health strategy for targeting physical inactivity.

Primary Supervisor

Meet AProf Verity Cleland


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • This project would suit a candidate with a background in public health, health promotion, epidemiology and related fields
  • It is highly desirable that the candidate has some training in quantitative analysis

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, AProf Verity Cleland l to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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