GettyImages-1026067068.jpg Sport and Exercise Science

Research Environment


We pride ourselves on creating an environment that is conductive to producing sport research of world-leading quality. We have a thriving research culture and believe that all our researchers from the most junior to the most senior should be supported to achieve their full potential.


Sport Park

Since 2014, the research infrastructure has been strategically enhanced. As part of the University’s investment in the sport, health and exercise sciences, a Sport Park 2 facility has been built.

Sport Park 2 is a 10,150m² new build teaching and research facility focused on Sports Performance and is one of the best university sport coaching and training venues in the country. Many professional teams use the USW Sport Park for training, such as the Wales football team, Cardiff City Football Club, as well as the touring British Lions and New Zealand rugby squad.

Facilities include 11 pitches, including five floodlit pitches, an artificial training pitch and a 3G rubber crumb floodlit football pitch. We also have our new specialist centre for strength and conditioning and a full-sized indoor football pitch - the only one in Wales and one of only five in the UK.

The building includes space for postgraduate researchers and facilities for applied research. Part of the Sports Park 2 development included investment in a dual-purpose teaching and research strength and conditioning room.

Specialist field-based equipment for the Sports Performance Group is based at the Sports Park (3d CODA motion analysis system, ASL mobile-eye tracker). Vald Performance have donated approximately £100K of equipment and licences to Morgan Williams for research use during the current REF period (Nordbord, Groinbar, Forcedeck and Humantrak).

Part of our infrastructure plan for 2021-2026 is to pursue the construction of Sport Park 3, a further new build that will include the relocation of our laboratory facilities, placing all our teaching and research on a single campus. 

See Sport Park virtual tour.

Glyntaff Laboratories

The Sports Park complements the laboratory space available for our students on the University’s Glyntaff campus. The Clinical Vascular Group's laboratories are based in the Alfred Russel Wallace Building and include a BASES accredited exercise physiology laboratory and an environmental chamber.

Researchers have access to a range of diagnostic and therapeutic services at The Welsh Institute of Chiropractic (WIOC). These include a full body composition and bone density DXA scanning;  musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound and shockwave therapy.

Sport Psychology

We have purpose-built psychology laboratories on our Treforest Campus for sport psychology experiments. A range of tools are available, including eye-tracking equipment and electroencephalography (EEG) machines. There are also interview and observation rooms for conducting experiments and tests.

Establishment of the Centre for Football Research in Wales has fostered links with the Football Association of Wales Trust (FAWT) in a key partnership that ensures that focused research outputs are translational and have impact.

Our collaboration with the FAW Trust (FAWT) includes a direct involvement in their coach education programmes. We have a number of staff who fulfil the roles of coach educator and mentor across the FAWT C Certificate, UEFA / FAWT B Licence, UEFA / FAWT A Licence, and UEFA / FAWT Professional Licence. These individuals are at the forefront of coach education in Wales, supporting the FAWT in their mission to develop more and better coaches.

Morgan Williams’s work on hamstring injury has widened the international scope of our research impact by producing collaborative research with the Australian Football League, the National Football League in the USA, the Irish Rugby Football Union, and numerous professional football clubs and national governing bodies to impact on the scientific community’s understanding of hamstring injuries.

Professor David Shearer’s work with Sport Wales has produced practical implications for Wales’s international coaches and performers that is underpinned by empirical research. Prof Shearer is a founding member of The Welsh Institute of Performance Science (WIPS) and has been the Performance Psychology lead since 2015.

Professor Brendan Cropley’s work on reflective practice continues to underpin BASES accreditation  and the FAW Trust’s coach education portfolio. He has recently been appointed as Coaching Science Lead for Welsh Institute Performance Science (WIPS).

Professor David Byfield and Professor Damian Bailey are collaborating with University of Southern Denmark on their research to determine the potential association between spinal pain and accelerated cognitive decline and to what extent this association is affected by physical activity levels.

Professor Damian Bailey and Benjamin Stacey are members of the Global Research Expedition on Altitude-related Chronic Health (REACH) team which was established in 2016. The team consists of 40+ researchers and physicians with the common objective to conduct a similar series of sophisticated experiments focusing on high-altitude (HA) adaptation in both low-landers (i.e. European descent) and local high-altitude dwellers living in Nepal (Sherpa), Peru (Quechuan), and Ethiopia (Amhara and Oromo).

As part of his Fellowship with The Japan Society for Promotion of Science, Professor Damian Bailey is collaborating with a number of Japanese universities, including Nagoya University, Ritsumeikan University, Nara Women’s University, Osaka Sangyo University and Toyo University. He is exploring the links between sympathetic activity and regulation of blood flow to the brain, and exploring the links between regional cerebral perfusion and neural activity.

Professor Damian Bailey has been collaborating with the French Space Agency (CNES) to look at what impact long-term exposure to a weightless environment could have on the human brain.

Professor Bailey also sits on The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Life Sciences Working Group in a role which will help monitor programmes carried out by the ESA's Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration. 

Professor David Shearer is the performance psychologist for 65 Degrees North, an organisation that seeks to help in the rehabilitation of wounded or damaged ex-servicemen and women by offering the opportunity to participate in challenging adventures.

Professor Ian Jeffreys works closely with NAR (Nucleus of High Performance in Sport, São Paulo, SP, Brazil) and have published a number of papers looking at speed and agility development in sports.  His RAMP warm-up protocols inform the education and assessment for both the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Research culture 

The University of South Wales is number 24 in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index,  certified as a Disability Confident – Employer and is proud to have achieved the HR Excellence in Research Award acknowledging the support it provides to researchers.  

USW is an inclusive place to work, with a clear commitment to furthering LGBT+ equality across all of our policies and practices through an active LGBT+ Staff Network, LGBT+ Role Models and LGBT+ allies.

Career development

Academic progression is encouraged whether you are engaged in research and development, innovation and engagement or teaching and learning. There is a clear framework for progression from lecturer through to Associate Professor and Professor.

Our Graduate School provides strong support to  staff who are, or want to develop into, research supervisors, examiners and chairs of vivas.

PGR students

USW's Graduate School provides overarching support for postgraduate researchers across the University. It brings postgraduate researchers together from a wide variety of disciplines into one community for a range of development opportunities and mentoring. It offers:

  • A one-stop shop for advice and guidance on postgraduate research degree programmes and regulations
  • Overseeing the research student journey from application through to award
  • Engaging with our cadre of experienced research staff to deliver credible, high quality skills development opportunities for postgraduate researchers
  • Supporting and developing supervisors, examiners and viva chairs
  • Pathways for experience in external engagement

Our dedicated contact is Jane MacCuish, Tel: 01443 482788