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Welcome to the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences submitted twelve members of staff, comprising twelve Full Time Equivalent (FTE), to the REF Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism UoA.  The submission included an Early Career Researcher. 


  • 10th in the UK overall.
  • 100% of our submission was world-leading or internationally excellent.
Find out more about us
5th for Sports Science Complete University Guide 2024
Ranked World Top 100 QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024
Sports University of the Year Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
Consistently ranked Top 10 for sport degrees in the UK, across all major rankings

Tackling global childhood obesity with ground-breaking research

Research by Sport and Exercise Sciences has made a positive impact on policy and practice addressing the global problem of childhood obesity.

Led by Professor Carolyn Summerbell, this work has developed pioneering interventions and evidence based recommendations to tackle a problem experienced by over 70 million children worldwide.
Read the full case study

About the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Congratulations to all sport and exercise science departments across the UK for the stellar work we have produced. Collectively departments have advanced our field. The results across universities bear testimony to the incredible work the UK is doing to advance knowledge on sport and exercise.  

The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Durham University is proud to have played a significant role in this regard. Our cutting edge research has played a key role by focusing on helping to reduce inequalities, promoting social justice and ensuring better health and wellbeing within and through sport, exercise and physical activity. We will continue to build on our unique strengths by developing early career scholars and working even more closely with regional, national, and international organisations to ensure our research makes a difference.  

Sport and Exercise Sciences REF Impact Case Studies

We submitted 2 impact case studies, about UN Sustainable Development Goals and childhood obesity.

Click below to read more about our case studies

Establishing new global and national sport policy approaches towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

This research has impacted on Commonwealth policy guidance that led to changes in sport policies internationally and in multiple countries.
The outside of Maiden Castle, Durham Universitys Sports building

Changing global policy and practice to promote the reach and effectiveness of interventions to prevent childhood obesity.

Our research has been foundational to the development and delivery of evidence-based child obesity initiatives in over 30 countries.
Two people exercising



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Research Themes

Our academic, research staff, and PhD students are psychologists, physiologists, sociologists, nutritionists and political scientists. The department has thematic research groups providing intellectual stimulation and transdisciplinary discussion, which are sporting lives and healthy communities.

More about our Research Themes

Like to Know More?

Our research is designed to make a positive impact on people’s lives. All our research is led in a way to address inequalities, promote social justice, and ensure better health and wellbeing through sport, exercise and physical activity.

Outreach and Engagement

Read testimonials from some of the individuals and companies we have worked with.
A student practising cricket indoors

What do we do in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences? Our research

View our short video to learn more about our research areas.
Hockey Team in a group during a match