Research

Department research strands

ResearchResearch within the department is conducted within multi-disciplinary groups, which align to the four distinct, yet related strands of:

  • Policy
  • Performance
  • Practice
  • Health and Wellbeing

These strands highlight the multidisciplinary and complementary nature of the research undertaken in the Department within the specific research groups, which relate to one or more of the strands.


Research groups

Movement behaviours, health, and wellbeing

Research group team

Prof Stuart Fairclough (Lead), Dr Mhairi MacDonald, Dr Rhona-Martin-Smith, MProf Adrian Midgley


Research group summary

The group’s research focuses on evaluating the effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviour on health and well-being using a wide range of cutting edge, multidisciplinary approaches. The work aligns to the Behavioural Epidemiology Framework by focusing on correlates, measurement, intervention, surveillance and health outcomes research. The overarching aim of the research is to positively impact people’s health and wellbeing through changes to their movement behaviours. Much of this work is to develop and test interventions and health promotion programming with children, young people and schools, which complements our adult physical activity research in community settings. This applied research is disseminated in peer-reviewed academic publications, and to impact policy and practice, research findings are also reported through grey literature, workshops, and other forms of knowledge exchange.

Pedagogy, professional development and politics in physical education and sport

Research group team

Dr Lee Nelson (Lead), Dr Anthony Maher (Lead), Kenny Greenough (Associate), Dr Chris HughesDr Neil KingDr Emily LovettJoanne McVeigh (Associate), Dr Jimmy O’Gorman, Mark Partington (Associate), Sarah Hunt (Associate), Dr Jack Sugden


Research group summary

This group’s research explores pedagogy, professional development and politics in physical education and sport. Our research is multidisciplinary, theoretically-informed and practically applied. A key aim of the group is to solve real-world problems. While much of our research is responsive and multifarious, the specific focus ranges from the politics and governance of sporting organisations and schools, to the bodies, lives, careers, practices and professional development of sports workers, athletes and educationalists. Through our research and consultancy work, we aim to influence the policies and practices of universities, schools, sporting organisations, and local councils.


Research group partners

Physical Education and Sport Partners

  • Youth Sport Trust
  • English Football Association
  • North West Counties Physical Education Association
  • Association for Physical Education
  • UK Deaf Sport
  • British Blind Sport
  • Activity Alliance
  • Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College

Academic partners

  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Loughborough University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Brighton
  • Brunel University
  • Dublin City University
  • University of Virginia
  • Old Dominions University
  • University of Valencia
  • University of Almeria
  • University of Barcelona

Psychology of sport, exercise, and movement

Research group team

Dr David Marchant (Lead), Dr Evelyn CarnegieDr Lorcan CroninDr Paul Ellison, Dr Laura Houghton, Ms Emma Huntley (Associate), Dr Maria-Christina Kosteli


Research group summary

The Psychology of Sport, Exercise and Movement research group explores learning, performance and wellbeing within sport and exercise across a range of settings and populations. Our current research falls into two interrelated themes: variables optimising learning, performance and participation (e.g., attentional focus, visual information processing, motivation, feedback, competitive environments), and the psychological benefits of sport and exercise participation (e.g., life skill development, cognition, and mental health). Our studies aim to inform policy and best practice in movement settings (e.g., physical education, coaching) such that movements and psychological benefits are optimised and participation is enhanced.

Sport, work, and health

Research group team

Professor Andy Smith (Lead), Dr David HaycockDr Laura JohnsonJon Jones (Associate)Dr Emily Lovett, Dr Lee NelsonDr Jimmy O’GormanDr Laura Purdy, Rachel Wilcock (Associate)


Research group summary

This group’s research focuses on the links between sport, work and health in community and professional contexts in local, national and international settings. It focuses particularly on how working in sport, physical activity and exercise domains impacts on health and wellbeing, with several projects focusing on mental health and suicide prevention. Underpinned by a range of sociological and policy approaches, our applied research involves working with a range of partner organisations in community sport, physical activity and exercise contexts (e.g. public, private, voluntary and community sectors) as well as professional sport settings (e.g. individual teams, clubs, national governing bodies). Our research users are diverse and include: participants/service users, athletes/players, coaches, managers, officials, administrators, policy-makers, and volunteers. The research produced by our group is published in academic peer-reviewed journals, in reports and policy briefings, and through a range of public engagement and knowledge exchange activities including workshops, training and CPD, government reports and media announcements.


Key research partners (in addition to those already listed on the website)

Physical Education and Sport Partners

  • Everton Football Club
  • State of Mind Sport
  • Warrington Wolves Foundation
  • Salford Red Devils Foundation
  • The Vikings Sports Foundation
  • CHAMPS Public Health Collaboration
  • Wirral Borough Council
  • Mental Health First Aid England
  • University of Chester
  • Local schools and colleges

Sports injuries

Research group team

Dr Matt Greig (Lead), Dr Chris BrogdenDr Ben LangleyDr Pascual MarquesJohn McCreadie (Associate), Dr Richard PageSteven Ross (Associate), Kristian Weaver (Associate), Lynsey Wilson (Associate)


Research group summary

The Sports Injuries Research Group comprises a blend of sports therapy and sports science practitioner-researchers with common themes in injury prevention and management. With access to excellent laboratory and clinical spaces, but also armed with a wealth of practical experience, the team strive to conduct laboratory and field-based research that provides real world solutions. Analysis is bespoke to the problem, often taking the science to the athlete, and using the athlete in developing solutions. This research is characterised by contemporary use of cutting edge data collection and analysis tools to make the research of functional relevance to the practitioner and/or athlete. Embedding sports science within the sports therapy competencies provides the team with a niche in being able to cater for all aspects of the injury process, to include epidemiology, aetiology, and interventions. This applied research is disseminated in peer-reviewed academic publications, and through other forms of knowledge exchange so as to inform practice in disciplines associated with performance enhancement and injury prevention. We put no restrictions on sport, gender, age, or playing ability.

Primary sub-themes within the research group currently reflect: Treatment and management of sports injuries; Biomechanical markers of injury risk.

Sports performance, exercise, and nutrition

Research group team

Professor Lars McNaughton (Lead), Dr Matt GreigDr Craig BridgeDr Greg DoncasterDr Ben LangleyDr Pascual MarquesDr Kelly MarrinDr Richard PageDr Andy Sparks


Research group summary

The Sports Nutrition and Performance research group has a multidisciplinary focus that broadly covers the Sport and Exercise Sciences. The research of this group is principally concerned with maximizing human performance in sport and exercise settings. The primary aim of this research group is to explore the acute and chronic responses to sports performance and various exercise modalities. The group has a strong research record investigating the interactions between diet, nutritional interventions, environmental conditions, and other scenarios that can alter human performance. Key areas of interest to the group are biomechanical, metabolic, and physiological factors that result in fatigue, alter sleep, circadian rhythms and exercise performance. Many of our research interested require us to work closely with other research groups within, as well as external to the Department, on a variety of multidisciplinary research projects, particularly on the psychophysiological and health factors that influence exercise and sport performance.

Our work is internationally renowned for identifying and resolving practical problems in the sport and exercise sciences. We regularly undertake research collaboratively with external organizations, sports clubs, individual athletes and colleagues in other universities nationally and internationally. The strong applied emphasis of our work leads us to collaborate with key research users, including sports coaches, physiotherapists, medical staff, nutritionists, General Practitioners, and strength and conditioning specialists.

The group includes researchers and postgraduate research students all actively engaged in a wide range of research projects.

More information about this research group


Key research partners

Sport and physical activity promotion partners

  • Youth Sport Trust
  • UEFA
  • World Rugby
  • Rugby League Cares
  • DOCIA Sport
  • Sport and Recreation Alliance
  • English FA

Community partners

  • West Lancashire Sports Partnership
  • West Lancashire Borough Council
  • Everton in the Community

Academic partners

  • Iowa State University
  • University of Leicester
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • University of East Anglia
  • Ulster University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Northumbria University
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Kent
  • Westminster University
  • Coventry University
  • Birmingham City University
  • University Hospital Aintree
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital
  • University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Edinburgh University

Industry partners

  • Les Mills International
  • IPRS Mediquipe
  • Catapult Sports
  • Corin
  • Mi Hiepa