Name: Mark Faghy
BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science
PhD: Respiratory limitations to exercise performance with thoracic load carriage
Current Job: Technical Tutor in Exercise Physiology at Loughborough University
Undergraduate: What have you enjoyed about the course?
The applied nature of the course was something that was eye-catching on my visit to the university on an open day. From day one of the course this was apparent with lots of practical sessions and hands on work throughout a number of the modules on the course. As a person who learns by doing, these activities were fantastic for me to develop. The course and facilities were constantly developing and improving allowing me to develop a broad set of skills that covered a number of key disciplines within sport science. The Sport Science staff are also an amazing team; they are very approachable, helpful, friendly and have such in-depth knowledge of the subject area.
What do you think of the facilities and equipment?
The facilities have been continuously improving over the past few years; this started with the re-development of Kirtley building, meaning we had improved Physiology labs to conduct our research and lots more equipment to use during practical sessions. I’ve been fortunate to experience sport science in the applied world and the facilities and equipment we have available here reflect those environments so it’s great to gain experience using this equipment. The facilities include a Strength and Conditioning Suite, two Physiology labs for research and practical sessions, a Gym, 3G Pitch, Tennis Courts/ Netball courts, Sports Hall and we will be having a new Sports Hall Pavilion in 2015. You will use these facilities a lot in lectures and practical sessions but can also use them to conduct research for your dissertation. This gives the course a very hands-on approach and aids your skill development and gives you the experience you need for the outside world.
Which pathway did you undertake in Sport and Exercise?
I was very selective with my module choices through levels 5 and 6 as I was conscious of leaving as many doors open as possible post university. I did have a keen interest in exercise physiology as this was something that really interested me and I developed a stronger interest throughout the course. Other modules I choose were Strength and Conditioning, Nutrition, Sports coaching and Sports Psychology.
Did you participate in a work Placement?
During my final year I undertook a 6 week work placement at Notts County Football Club which was a part of the course. This was observing a highly qualified coach and coaching behaviours in different situations and trying to gain an empirical understanding of how these behaviours changed. During my time I got to know the coaching staff well and we spoke at length about the course and the skills I had developed and they offered me the opportunity to stay. I stayed there for two seasons developing from the youth team to the first team. I worked closely with the management team to apply aspects learnt on the course to a professional sport team. This was something I sourced and choose to do myself with some assistance from the Sport and Exercise team. Being a lifelong fan this was a dream come true for me.
What would you say to anyone thinking of studying Sport and Exercise Science at Derby?
I would say to everyone to do what you enjoy, get involved and take the opportunities that come your way. I explored other universities which were Nottingham Trent, Leeds Metropolitan, Lincoln and Wolverhampton. I came to the Open Day at Derby and I just got an instant feel for the place. I spoke to two of the Sport and Exercise academics who were very helpful and friendly. I could really tell they are passionate about their subject area and I’ve never looked backed.
PhD: Why did you choose to do a PhD?
I graduated from BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science in 2011 with a 1st and became a Graduate Teaching Assistant. I started my PhD in September 2012; I chose to do this because I developed a keen interest in research from assisting academics during my time as a student. The respiratory system and its limitations really caught my attention during conversations with my supervisor and is something that I am really enjoying getting my teeth into.
What do you enjoy about the PhD?
I am supervised whilst doing my PhD but you have to be very independent and self-motivated. I enjoy this individual element, having to work independently and motivate yourself to organise research sessions and collect the data. It is a challenge; I have to be very organised due to my teaching responsibilities and my sporting activities, like playing football. I also enjoy the uncertainty of the research, how is it going to look at the end? Are the results what I predicated? The nature of the research can change at any time. The PhD brings lots of opportunities to present my work via national conferences and research publications. I was even fortunate to be awarded best oral presentation at a national student conference. I am really proud to have been recognised and represented at such a high level and had an input into several publications, not only is it great for me but it’s great for the department and the university.
To coincide with the PhD, I also assist with the delivery of the undergraduate Sport and Exercise Science programme, typically within the Physiology modules at levels 4, 5 and 6. I’m involved with writing and delivering lectures and seminar sessions and marking student assessments. I also have six independent study students which I guide through the process of their final year project. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and seeing my students develop and do well in their assessments. This was one aspect that I had not considered prior to my studies here; but something I truly enjoy doing.
Team Derby Performance
I also assist with consultancy work for the departments commercial arm; Team Derby Performance. In this role I deliver Sports Science support to a number of our clients, developing procedures and providing reports for coaches and athletes. I’ve worked with a number of athletes and teams across the performance spectrum.
My life has changed a lot since coming to university, I have developed and grown personally and achieved great things professionally. I owe a lot of gratitude to the university for placing such faith in me and allowing me to develop into the role that I now occupy and to be truthfully honest I have loved every second of my time at Derby. I know I made the right choice. My one bit of advice to prospective students would be to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself because the skills on offer are what future employers are looking for.