Research course

Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences

Brunel University, London · Health and Life Sciences

Entry requirements

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree and additionally, for a PhD, a Master’s degree or equivalent. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. This applies even if English is the native language of your home country. An appropriate level of English language competence is also expected as listed below. Applicants may also be required to attend compulsory in-sessional English language support. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis. IELTS 7.0 (with no less than 6.0 in any section). Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

Months of entry

January, December, November, October, August, July, June, May, April, March, February

Course content

Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline.

A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.
MPhil degree option
An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
Research profile
Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Brunel hosts a vibrant community of researchers with expertise in both natural and social sciences.
Natural science research focuses 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 and neuromuscular systems to exercise and training, as well as the physiological, biomechanical and psychological limitations to human sport performance and exercise tolerance.
Social science research focuses on the role of sport, health and wellbeing in contemporary society and their relevance to policy and practice. Work spans a wide remit, from analysis of healthy lifestyles and recreational sport participation, to research into elite sport systems and performers.
More about research in this area
The Division’s natural science researchers are members of the College Research Centres Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation (CHPER) and Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN).
The Division’s social science researchers are members of the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing Theme in the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, where they form a specialist group for sport, health and wellbeing research. The Theme is led by Professor Tess Kay, Professor of Sport and Social Sciences.
These groups work closely together to provide a unique multidisciplinary environment.
Prestigious appointments
Professor José González-Alonso is member of the Scientific Committee of the European College of Sport Science and was member of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) subpanel 26 – Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism. Professor Tess Kay is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
Potential research projects
Our research is highly regarded and offers talented researchers the opportunity to:
  • Join an internationally recognised environment for research excellence – Brunel is ranked #3 and #5 in the UK for sport and exercise research in terms of research intensity and power, respectively (REF2014), and highest for sport and exercise research in London.
  • Be part of an expert community that publishes world-leading research addressing priority challenges in sport and exercise, health and wellbeing.
  • Benefit from our excellent relationships with sport performance and health organisations in the public, private and third sector, including policymakers, health professionals, professional sport, and local delivery partners in health, sport development and education.
  • Enjoy being part of a well-resourced, collegial research environment - all our research students are based in our dedicated postgraduate study rooms alongside academic staff offices and play a full part in the activities of the Division.
A list of research areas is included below according to the research centres and research institute theme:

Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation
  • Human performance, cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal health research.
  • Mechanisms regulating muscle blood flow and the role of muscle mechanisms and breathing in cardiovascular control.
  • Respiratory physiology and pathophysiology as applied to exercise, hypoxia and chronic disease states; role of the respiratory system (gas exchange, airway mechanics and respiratory muscle work/fatigue) and its cardiovascular interactions (mechanical and reflex) as significant contributors to oxygen transport and exercise performance limitations in healthy endurance athletes as well as in COPD and asthma.
  • Dysfunctional breathing, breathing retraining and exercise in the management of dysfunctional breathing, physiotherapy management of breathing conditions.
  • Mechanisms of in vivo muscle-tendon and joint function during maturation in children, young athletes and across the lifespan.
  • Reduction of musculoskeletal loading and prevention of injuries in athletes and among people with neuromuscular or musculoskeletal pathologies.
  • Movement and coordination in children and the effects of acquired and developmental disorders in children and young adults.
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience
Three main research strands, and encouragement for research that integrates two or more of these strands:
  • Vision – visual attention, visual perception, face perception, visual language.
  • Action – motor control, executive control, performance (e.g. dance/sport).
  • Plasticity – lifespan changes, acquisition of expertise (e.g. in areas above such as vision, action and performance), neurodegeneration/rehabilitation.
Sport , health and exercise research in the Welfare, Health and Wellbeing theme:
  • Sport, health and physical activity
  • Sport, culture and wellbeing
  • Community sport development
  • Understanding inactivity
  • Sport and physical education
  • Child safeguarding in sport
  • Athlete welfare and wellbeing
  • Health and wellbeing in the workplace

Information for international students

English Language Requirements: IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas); Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores); BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas).

Fees and funding

UK students
Full time: £4,121, Part time: £2,060
International students
Full time: £17,200, Part time: £8,600

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months

Course contact details

College of Health and Life Sciences
+44 (0) 1895 268161