Sports and exercise sciences research

Research

Discover the range of research undertaken within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

World-leading research

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is internationally recognised for its cross-disciplinary approach to understanding and addressing the challenges relating to how physical activity, exercise, and sport can benefit health, culture, and human performance. We specialise in working with stakeholders, industry, and end-users to better understand the challenges we address and to deliver the impactful applied research that can make a difference to those who make use of it.

Quality research that delivers impact

From our research on anti-doping that has informed international policy, to our living lab exercise classes for patients with chronic disease, our support of British Olympic teams  and work with National Olympic Committees across multiple Games, and our research and innovation projects with the Ministry of Defence – our research advances the frontiers of knowledge and is used by those who need it most.  

All of our research active research staff were submitted to REF2021, where 85% of our overall research profile was judged to be of a quality that is world-leading and internationally excellent. Our academic staff have supervised dozens of postgraduate research students and postdoctoral research associates, and have published widely in their respective fields.

We organise our research environment around two multi-disciplinary thematic areas and seven research clusters which builds focused critical mass that is supported by multiple staff, external funding, and dedicated research staff and students, whilst  also encouraging our academics to pursue their own areas of interest. Our research projects within our seven clusters have attracted substantial funding from bodies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NHS, the International Olympic Association, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the British Council, and multiple businesses from industry.

Restoration, Enhancement, and Monitoring of Human Performance

We develop strategies to recover better, train smarter, and optimise performance, to overcome the challenges faced by the body and mind during exercise and physical tasks. Led by physiology, with expertise from psychology, biomechanics, nutrition, analytics, medicine, engineering, and neuroscience.

  • bicycle2

    Psychophysiological response to exercise

    Perception of sensory information during exercise and its impact on physical and cognitive performance.

  • soccer

    Exercise Immunology

    Immune system function in athletes and how the immune system responds to prolonged exercise/training.


  • jump

    Individual optimisation of response to training

    Advancing knowledge of exercise training processes to enhance athletic outcomes.

  • wind

    Dysfunctional breathing in health and performance

    Exploring diagnosis and management interventions for those with respiratory symptoms during exercise.

World-leading experts

Our academic staff are engaged in research that extends the boundaries of sports science. Their work is published regularly in leading scientific journals.

Dr John Dickinson performing research with respiratory equipment

Dr John Dickinson

A world-leading authority on respiratory problems in athletes

Sport and Exercise for Population Health, Wellbeing, and Culture

We assess how changes to the body contribute to long-term complex conditions, and how physical activity can be used to track, treat and manage these. We evaluate how policies, events, and initiatives can be developed and implemented to maximise educational and participation legacies.

  • walk

    Physical activity for chronic disease management

    Use of physical activity to manage chronic disease and promote physical and cognitive function.


  • accessibility

    Aetiology and management of MSK conditions

    The relationship between anatomical/physiological dysfunction/maladaptation and chronic pain.


  • jump

    Sport organisations, events and employment

    Examining sport organisations, industry relationships, work, event management and legacies.


Making a difference

As a School we engage with local, national and international partners to produce high-quality research that is academically rigorous and has a positive impact in the wider community. By combining laboratory research with practical work in our clinics, academic staff and students are able to test a variety of hypotheses from basic mechanistic science to applied work with patient populations as well as elite athletes.

The breadth of our research makes the School an attractive and dynamic place to study. Areas of expertise include:

  • exercise physiology
  • biomechanics
  • nutrition
  • injury
  • rehabilitation
  • psychology.

The reputation and expertise of our academic staff has attracted substantial research funding over the last 10 years from bodies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Ministry of Defence, as well as from charitable foundations such as the Leverhulme Trust.

Our staff have used their research to benefit elite athletes including Olympic swimmers and cyclists, and the England football team; soldiers in the British army; and specific clinical populations. They have sought to challenge perceptions of disability through a ground-breaking project run in collaboration with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.

Join our World

We offer Sports and Exercise Sciences research degrees at Master's level and PhD. Find out what our more about our Postgraduate courses.

With academic expertise across a range of fields, find a project to suit you and help build a better tomorrow.