The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences provides an excellent environment to undertake your first steps into postgraduate research. Choosing to study for an MSc (by research and thesis) allows you to work directly with our research-active staff who have a considerable breadth of interests and can supervise you across a range of areas in sport and exercise sciences, sports therapy and sports management.

Explore our staff expertise and the projects on offer for Master’s by Research students below:

Master’s Projects (by Research and Thesis)

Master’s Project Descriptions

Alternative physical activity interventions for improving health  Dr Katrina Taylor

This project will expand upon previous research into HIIT and Isometric exercise training and will look to explore the use of novel, low cost, short duration, accessible physical activity interventions. Optimising training interventions for maximal health improvement will be explored while measuring the impact these can have on markers of health and disease.

Caffeine and immune responses to exercise: is there a genetic influence?  Professor Glen Davison

Caffeine has been studied extensively as an ergogenic aid and there is some evidence showing it may protect some components of immune function in response to prolonged exercise. There is, however, large inter-subject variability in responses to caffeine, with some individuals suggested to be ‘non-responders’. Recent research shows this may be related to genetic factors, with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the CYP1A2 gene identified as a key predictor of responses to caffeine. However, there is no current research on the influence of this SNP on immune responses to caffeine, and this will be the aim of this project.

Does increasing respiratory muscle strength improve breathing pattern, reduce exercise respiratory symptoms and improve exercise performance?  Professor John Dickinson

This project will investigate whether improving the strength of breathing muscles (e.g. diaphragm) can reduce exercise respiratory symptoms and improve exercise performance. Findings from this project will inform the therapy offered to individuals who report exercise respiratory symptoms that limit their exercise capacity.

Examining impacts of novel modes of static transport  Dr Katrina Taylor & Dr Sam Smith

The use of e-scooters, and alternative, electric and ‘static’ transport modalities has increased in popularity, and could potentially become the future and primary form of human mobility. Despite their perceived social and environmental benefits, their possible impact on physical inactivity and markers of health has yet to be considered. How should schemes promoting these forms of transport be best developed to account for potential physiological and psychological adaptations that may occur from acute or prolonged use? 2 MRes studentships (One to focus on physiological variables and one to focus on psycho-social impacts).

Nutritional strategies to protect the gut during exercise Professor Glen Davison

Heavy exercise may cause damage to gut cells and a temporary increase in intestinal permeability. This may contribute to gastrointestinal complaints frequently reported by athletes. Strategies that reduce the effects of exercise on gut damage and permeability may be of benefit. Numerous nutritional interventions have been studied, but further research is required to better determine the optimal type, dose and duration of supplementation for optimal benefit. This project will allow the student to investigate the effects of novel nutritional strategies on gut damage and permeability markers in response to exercise.

Nutrition, immunity and illness in athletes  Professor Glen Davison

Exercise has been shown to affect most areas of the immune system in some way. Moderate exercise or training may enhance immunity and lower upper respiratory illness (URI) risk whereas intensive training may have the opposite effect in some athletes. Strategies to maintain or enhance immunity are of benefit to such individuals. Nutritional strategies and supplements are an attractive intervention as they are easy to implement within a normal training programme. However, much of the research on their effectiveness is limited in the markers used to quantify immune function and illness risk. This study will investigate a nutritional intervention in this context, with the use of high value (i.e. in vivo and/or clinically relevant) outcome measures.

Optimising the use of GPS to support team game training and performance  Professor John Dickinson & Professor James Hopker

The project will focus on using GPS analysis to record individual performance in the team games. The project will as which variable are most valuable to coaches and whether any of the data can be used monitor and influence training and match performance.

Physical activity and breathing impacts on blood pressure control  Dr Katrina Taylor & Professsor John Dickinson

Raised blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases and mortality. Physical activity and breathing training have both been demonstrated to reduce raised blood pressure and maintain healthy blood pressure. This project will explore the effects of acute and short-term physical activity, breathing training interventions, and combined interventions on blood pressure readings.

Raman Scattering Detection of substances used in sport doping  Dr Donna Arnold and Professor James Hopker

The standard protocol for detecting doping in competitive sports often takes several days to perform in a laboratory-based environment and requires complex procedures and expensive equipment. However, the portable nature of RAMAN technology, which has been extensively used in a law enforcement environment, provides an opportunity to take measurements in the field rather than a laboratory environment. Therefore, RAMAN technology provides the potential for both a rapid and field adaptable method for drug detection in a sports environment. Surface-enhanced RAMAN spectroscopy (SERS) is a form of vibrational spectroscopy that can identify analyte substances uniquely. It provides direct structural information about target molecules in solid or solution form and identifies qualitative differences between similar samples. SERS has also been used for quantitative analysis of drugs in mixtures in complex biological samples (e.g. blood and urine). This project aims to apply SERS to detect drugs associated with sports related doping.

Research into the varied roles and value of sport history, heritage and museum sites, practices and cultures in contributing to local, regional, national or wider social, cultural or political issues and debates  Dr Geoffrey Kohe

Projects within this theme may adopt a UK focus or draw from other international contexts, however, will primarily adopt Qualitative Social Science methodologies. Example projects may include examinations of international or national sport heritage museums and sites, critique of digital sport heritage spaces, or investigations into public engagements with sport history.

Research into the role of sport and physical activity within expat/migrant community development, health and wellbeing  Dr Geoffrey Kohe

Projects within this theme may adopt a UK focus or draw from other international contexts, however, will primarily adopt Qualitative Social Science methodologies. Example projects may include mapping engagement with sport/physical activities among migrant populations, interrogating national and domestic government policies on sport resourcing, analysing existing sport-for-development initiatives, or interrogating the role of charity providers within migrant (re)habilitation.

Research investing the socio-cultural aspects of global sport and physical cultures; with specific emphasis on the historical or heritage, educational, policy or community identity aspects  Dr Geoffrey Kohe

Projects within this theme may adopt a UK focus or draw from other international contexts, however, will primarily adopt Qualitative Social Science methodologies. Example projects may include studies of sport-event legacies, sport education initiatives, sport and corporate relations, sports workers welfare, or sport governance.

Social Prescribing within the Fitness and Leisure Sector  Dr Katrina Taylor

Social prescribing aims to meet the social, emotional and practical needs of individuals, to improve overall health and wellbeing. The NHS-10 year plan aims to improve personalised care, enabling individuals to make informed choices about support they receive, by improving access to a range of services. The fitness and leisure sector plays a key role in supporting activity opportunities with diverser health and wellbeing benefits. This project is offered in partnership with ukactive, to monitor and analyse findings from an ongoing national evaluation into social prescribing, exploring how it currently connects with fitness and leisure activities in local communities.

Use of exercise rehabilitation to improve exercise capacity and reduce symptoms in people who report exercise respiratory symptoms and/or have respiratory disease (e.g. asthma)  Professor John Dickinson & Dr Steve Meadows

This project will investigate the use of exercise as a therapy to reduce exercise respiratory symptoms in people with and without respiratory disease. In a similar design to pulmonary rehab participants will attend group classes and the student will monitor changes in exercise capacity, respiratory function, respiratory symptoms, and quality of life. The outcomes of the project will assess whether patients who do not currently meet the requirements to be referred for pulmonary rehabilitation can benefit from such activity.

What is the impact of airway disease on breathing pattern?  Professor John Dickinson

This project will investigate whether there are differences in breathing pattern between health and people with airway disease (e.g. asthma). The project will then investigate whether strategies such as breathing pattern training can reduce the impact of respiratory disease and improve exercise capacity. The project will use 3D motion cameras and require the student to use MATLAB software.

Why does pain not always feel the same? Investigating the variation in response to exertional pain  Dr Sam Smith & Professor Lex Mauger

Naturally occurring muscle pain during physical exertion is a well-recognised phenomenon that occurs across all populations. Whilst non-damaging, the perception of exertional pain is typically interpreted as an aversive threat to the body that should be avoided or overcome. Pain is however complex and subjective and is experienced differently both between individuals and for the same individual across different situations and states. The aversive and unpredictable experience of exertional pain can therefore have implications for exercise adherence and performance.

Academic staff and research areas –  School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Dr Kyra De Coninck

  • Anatomy and Function of Fascia
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Adaptation of fascia to mechanical loading

Professor Glen Davison

  • Sports Nutrition
  • Exercise Immunology

Professor John Dickinson

  • Respiratory problems in athletes
  • Disordered breathing during exercise

Dr Lucy Hale

  • Sport Nutrition

Professor James Hopker

  • Response to exercise training
  • Endurance performance

Dr Geoffery Kohe

  • Elite sports works lives
  • Sport organisation contexts and relations

Professor Lex Mauger

  • Regulation of work rate during exercise
  • The role of exercise-induced pain in fatigue and endurance performance

Dr Steve Meadows

  • Exercise in cardiovascular disease
  • Exercise in Parkinson’s patients
  • Broader factors that impact on health and people’s ability to exercise and preserve, or improve their health and functional capacity

Dr Sam Smith

  • Regulation of pain during exercise

Dr Katrina Taylor

  • Use of physical activity as an alternative or adjunctive therapy in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases