Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity Research Group (SEPARG)

About us

Our interdisciplinary and international research agenda seeks to understand, intervene and improve the lives of those involved in sport and physical activity from grassroots to performance. Our work is multi-faceted and focuses on relationships of individuals and communities with sport, physical education, physical activity and health. Through our approach to research, we seek to offer real world solutions that can:

  • contribute to the development and improvement of human performance in competitive sport
  • influence health promotion and rehabilitation through sport, exercise and physical activity
  • promote non-linear approaches to pedagogy in sport, exercise and physical activity, and their impact on human movement
  • further enhance our understanding of participation, identity and social justice in sport, exercise and physical activity

Student researchers performing VO2 max test in sports laboratory


Gregory Walsh

Dr Greg Walsh

Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science

View profile

Stuart Whigham

Dr Stuart Whigham

Senior Lecturer in Sport, Coaching and Physical Education

View profile


Active projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates

FORTEe: Get strong to fight childhood cancer

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 945153
Hayley Marriott, Mr Stan Windsor, Dr Peter Wright Horizon 2020 From: May 2021
Until: July 2026

TACBIS: Tackling Colour blindness in sport

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme under grant agreement No 613501-EPP-I-2019-I-NL-SPO-SCP
Dr Adam Bibbey, Dr John Jakeman European Commission From: January 2020
Until: December 2022

Get your head in the game - Sport, Concussion, Awareness and Training.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme under grant agreement No 2019-I-IE01-KA202-051555.
Dr Simon Phelan, Dr Adam White European Commission From: November 2019
Until: December 2023

Our research themes

Human Performance Enhancement

Our research contributes to the development and improvement of human performance in competitive sport and exercise through a multi-disciplinary approach. A particular focus of our work is the exploration of the physiological and psychological impact of contrasting training and recovery methods with regards to the preparation and performance of elite sportspeople. Furthermore, we also have a specific focus on the use of nutritional aids and environmental physiology in sports and exercise, and the biomechanics of sporting technique and injury risk.

Student researchers performing an isokinetic muscle function test

Physical Activity and Health Promotion

Research participants completing 'Drums Alive' physical activity session

Our research contributes to the understanding of effective methods for health promotion and rehabilitation, with a particular emphasis on the role of sport, exercise and physical activity in relation to health promotion, rehabilitation, sports injuries and sports medicine. We are particularly focused upon on the use of various nutritional and training interventions to improve physical health and psychological well-being. We also work on cardiac autonomic health and how it may be influenced by chronic training modalities or dietary intervention, based on a non-invasive measure of heart rate variability. Furthermore, we also study the potential benefits of participation in sport, exercise and physical activity as a means of generating positive health outcomes for patients suffering from acute and chronic medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease and other cardiovascular illnesses. Finally, we are investigating the potential to improve injury prevention and recovery practices within the domains of sport, exercise and physical activity, including emphasis on concussion management protocols, research into paediatric orthopaedics, and sports medicine research.

Pedagogy and Coach Development in Sport

The design of learning environments is a key component of the work in this research theme. We are particularly focused on non-linear learning theories pertaining to human movement, such as dynamical systems, game-centred approaches and ecological psychology, and their relationship to pedagogy in practice. Both physical education and performance sport are considered as key domains within which to explore the impact that teachers and coaches can have on environment design, practice design and the individual learning journey. We seek to better understand how to put theory into practice by actively developing research intensive projects that are applied. To this end, a key focus of the future research activity of this group endeavours to address the lack of empirical evidence that currently exists on these theoretical approaches.

Female coach leading netball practical session

Sociology and Politics in Sport and Physical Education

Male footballers having post-match discussion in inner-city environment

Involvement in sport, physical activity and physical education at all levels can provide a fulfilling and rewarding experience for those involved; however, unequal access and rights within these domains can limit the involvement of certain individuals and groups. As such, we seek to examine the way that sport, physical activity and physical education are constructed to serve those engaged from participation to performance. We are particularly interested in the social benefits of sport, physical activity and physical education for individuals and groups at all levels of participation. Given this, we are also interested in critiquing the barriers to achieving equality and social justice in these domains, through exploring the impact of sociological, political and historical phenomena in this field. Furthermore, we are interested in critically examine the impact of these phenomena in practitioners in this field, including coaches, athletes, administrators, teachers and pupils, amongst others.