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Sports and fitness

Child using climbing equipment

The OU Sport Research Group is a sub group of Childhood, Youth, and Sport Group led by Dr Helen Owton which includes an interdisciplinary team of researchers designing, managing and completing research projects which are ultimately aimed at educating, understanding and improving the lives of athletes. The multi-disciplinary team draws upon a range of approaches and methodological expertise (including: auto/ethnography, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, grounded theory, creative analytical practices) spanning across numerous disciplines including psychology, sociology, nutrition, strength and conditioning and biomechanics. Qualitative and quantitative research sporting projects cover particular expertise of different sports including, athletic injury, post traumatic growth, maltreatment/abuse, identity, embodiment, and specific sports activities.

Qualifications available:

PhD or MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent). Plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent).

Potential research projects

  • Equality and sport
  • Women’s sporting lived experiences
  • Abuse, maltreatment and athlete welfare in sport
  • Coach-athlete relationships
  • Chronic illnesses (e.g. asthma) and sporting participation
  • Psychological aspects of a sports injury
  • Athlete transitions (e.g. retirement, motherhood and sport)
  • Athlete adversity, post traumatic growth and resiliency
  • Expertise in a variety of sports (e.g. combat sports, team sports, athletics, swimming, golf)
  • Golf biomechanics
  • Coach education

Current/recent research projects

  • “When You’re Born You Can’t Even Talk, So Everybody Starts Somewhere”: The Lived Experiences of Sports Leadership Training
  • The impact of sport psychology education on the attitudes and behaviour of physiotherapists
  • A phenomenological study into the asthma and sporting/exercise experiences
  • Understanding Participation: A case study of women in club sport
  • A qualitative study into the transitional experiences of elite sportswomen from high, moderate and low risk sport

Potential supervisors

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Mrs Wendy Whiteley
01908 655 364

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.