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Research and PhD programmes

The Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Brunel University London is internationally recognised as an environment for research excellence. Placed fifth in the UK for research power in REF2014, our sport and exercise research is the highest ranked in London, with 73% of our research outputs and 100% of the research environment and impact classed as world leading or internationally excellent. Our vibrant community of researchers span the natural and social sciences, equipping them to address the complex multidisciplinary challenges surrounding sport, exercise, health and wellbeing today. 

Our research is conducted across two expert research centres and a research group which collaborate to apply innovative disciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives to sport, health and exercise research.

Find out more about our past PhD students and their research experiences at Brunel.

Our research centres

Our research group

      • The Sport, Health and Wellbeing research group (B.SHaW) is home to the Division’s social science researchers.  It is jointly hosted by the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing Theme of the university-wide Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, providing access to additional expert input in areas such as public health, child and youth research and development studies. 

Our research expertise

Natural science research in our centres focus on integrative aspects of human physiology, biomechanics and psychology of sport and exercise. A primary aim is to further our fundamental understanding of the regulation and adaptation of the cardiovascular, respiratory, neuro- and musculoskeletal systems to exercise, training and environmental stress, as well as the physiological, biomechanical and psychological limitations to human sport performance and exercise tolerance.

Social science research in B.SHaW addresses the role of sport, health and wellbeing in contemporary society and their relevance to policy and practice.  It addresses a wide range of contemporary research priorities including participation and delivery of community sport, promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles in schools and in the workplace, the contribution of sport and exercise to wellbeing, and elite sport systems and performers.

Our research collaborations

We have excellent relationships with sport, health and exercise organisations and clinical researchers, working with them across a wide range of contexts from high performance, fundamental physiological research and community sport to public health. Our collaborations cover the public, private and third sector and include national and international policy actors and agencies, professional sport, and local delivery partners in health, sport development and education. Our recent projects include work with Public Health England, Macmillan Cancer Support, Sport England, UK Sport and UNICEF. 

Opportunities for postgraduate research

You are very welcome to undertake your PhD or MPhil in one of our research areas and work alongside our researchers. As a research student you'll benefit from the latest work by internationally-renowned academics and the support of our Graduate School. Many of our research initiatives involve successful collaborations with industry, the public sector, business and government, both in the UK and overseas. We have many funded and non-funded research degree opportunities available. For more information, visit our Research Degrees homepage

Our postgraduate researchers are hosted in the appropriate research group where they benefit from our well-resourced, collegial research environment and play a full part in the activities of the Division. Our PhD programmes offer training in cutting edge research techniques and methodologies in sport, health and exercise sciences, and include UK Research Council accredited pathways.

Our natural science researchers use state-of-the art cardiovascular, respiratory, biomechanics and motor behaviour laboratories and associated equipment to gain new knowledge and understanding of the body systems regulation and adaptation to exercise, training and environmental stress and the factors limiting human skill and physical performance.  

Our social science postgraduates apply a wide range of established and more innovative quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods and evaluation methodologies. Our strong networks provide students with excellent access to the sport and health sector ensuring engagement with the most relevant priority issues. Opportunities include studentships available through the Health and Wellbeing Pathway of the ESRC-funded Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership, a unique collaboration with the University of Oxford and The Open University. More information about these PGR opportunities can be found here: