Top ranked institution in the UK for research in sport and exercise sciences*

11th best academic department in the country (out of 1,911 submissions).

We are a research-informed department which houses the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES). 97% of our research activity is rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and RISES has been ranked 1st in the UK for Research Quality in Sport and Exercise Sciences at the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014*

Our REF 2014 highlights:

  • Of the 1,911 submissions to the REF2014, we were ranked as the top department in post-92 institutions
  • A grade point average of 3.57 was calculated from 62% of research activity at a score of 4* (world leading) and 35% of research activity at 3* (internationally excellent)
  • A total of 60 research papers rated at 4* was the largest volume of research papers at that level in the Unit of Assessment
  • A fantastic 90% of impact (or translation) activity was rated at 4* and 100% of our research environment was rated at 4*

RISES is the home of broad-based, multidisciplinary, fundamental and applied research in the following areas:

  • Tackling unhealthy lifestyles and obesity in children by adapting play areas and schools
  • Working with Premiership football clubs, locally and across the country for performance analysis and injury prevention strategies
  • Cardiac screening and cardiovascular health of athletes
  • Nutritional support for elite athletes, stem cell biology in ageing and muscle wasting
  • Learning via imitation in autism
  • Muscle control in cerebral palsy via interactive video games

RISES staff interrogate the ‘exercise response’ from the cell to the community; from the elite athlete to multiple clinical groups; from the youngest to the oldest members of society.

Investing in our people

We’ve invested in the recruitment of world-leading academics and early career researchers, which led to an increase in staff submitted to the REF from 22 in 2008 to 35 in 2014.

Public engagement

We embrace our moral and civic responsibility to translate our world-leading research and practice to local, national and international communities. We are committed to public engagement and the translation of our work to a range of diverse populations, demonstrating the positive impact that sport and exercise sciences can have on our communities.

* Research Quality Index data provided by Research Professional and available via Research Fortnight.

Our expertise

  • Biomechanics: making an impact at the end-user level with applications in clinical and sport and exercise biomechanics through collaboration locally, nationally and internationally
  • Brain and Behaviour: looking at motor behaviour and learning, we're developing an understanding from the neural level through to perception and cognition, and culminating in the final human motor behaviour
  • Cardiovascular Health Sciences: understanding the impact and importance of exercise training and physical activity for promoting and maintaining cardiorespiratory health and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
  • Exercise Metabolism and Adaptation: understanding how skeletal muscle adapts to acute exercise and sustained training. This research is applicable to the design of interventions to improve human health, wellbeing, recovery and sporting performance.
  • Psychology and Development: examining the daily existence of athletes, coaches and associated support staff and how they understand themselves and others


In addition to our research groups, we have two themed ‘Exchanges’ which are oriented toward areas of staff expertise, consultancy, service delivery and funding opportunities, as well as an opportunity for us to demonstrate our external impact and end-user translation:

  • The Football Exchange: working with the Premier League and football governing bodies including Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club, The FA and Real Madrid, we deliver high quality research-informed solutions to real-world problems in football
  • Physical Activity Exchange: conducts applied research focused on physical activity, exercise and health

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Find out more about our research

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