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Welcome to the Institute for Performance Research (IPR)


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Our research for sport and the contemporary arts has had an international reputation for over 20 years. In the recent Research Assessment Exercise, our work in both areas was assessed as internationally excellent/recognised and 5% as world-leading. This outcome recognises our strengths in applied human performance research and reflects the positive and dynamic research environment at MMU Cheshire.

Research in Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity (SEPA) is innovative and applied. It is aligned closely with the learning and teaching provision in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. There are currently four research groups in SEPA:

Each group comprises active research programmes with outputs impacting at all levels of human performance in sport, exercise and physical activity.

The Centre’s research is far reaching and includes projects in:

  • Olympic legacy in East Cheshire;
  • low back pain;
  • imagery and stroke rehabilitation;
  • psychophysiology and motor cognition;
  • anxiety, stress and coping;
  • genetic markers of fitness;
  • athletic nutrition;
  • swimming biomechanics;
  • extra-curricular activities for school children;
  • sports history;
  • sociological issues in sports coaching practice.

Staff have received internal and external research awards for their innovative work and social impact in the community. The professional practice of staff with national governing bodies of sport provides opportunities for applied research specifically designed to support athletics, canoeing, climbing, football, hockey, modern pentathlon, shooting, swimming, and sports for disabled athletes.

Conceptualized Arts Practices (CAP) supports research activity in the areas of Music, Dance, Drama & Performing Arts and is closely linked with the Department of Contemporary Arts. CAP has the following Research Groups:

The Research Groups have grown out of a distinctive approach to learning and teaching with a cross-disciplinary emphasis. All taught programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels are based in theory-aware practice. A culture of ‘praxis’ (theory imbricated within practice), established in the Department over twenty-five years, affords the equivalent of an archive in respect of embodied knowledge. To undertake Practice as Research requires an in-built, self-reflective and critical disposition towards making work, as well as awareness of contemporary conceptual frameworks. The Centre is acknowledged to have influenced the discourse on Practice-as-Research nationally and internationally having constructed new paradigms for Practice-as-Research linked to established intellectual traditions.

An insistence that the more traditional learning and research skills of reading, writing and intellectual debate are located as closely as possible to workshop practices has, over time, blurred the boundary between theory and practice in our approaches and no hard distinction is sustained between thinking and doing. Practice-based Research indicates traditional written outcomes but of research informed by practice or ‘insider knowledge’. Learning and research outcomes are thus seen to be articulable in a range of practices (of which writing is only one).

In addition, the Centre also works closely with SEPA to develop the relationship across arts-science boundaries. Current projects include: the neural correlates of musical performance; theatre and digital technologies; and dance-related injury and rehabilitation.

Please feel free to contact any of our staff to discuss their research or to make enquiries about research opportunities. We welcome submission of research ideas and project proposals leading to MA/MSc, MPhil and  PhD degrees relevant to professional practice in sport science and contemporary arts. Please see the link to current funding and research opportunities.

Dr Paul Holmes
Director: Institute for Performance Research