SPARC at BU is home to a breadth of exciting, innovative and inter-disciplinary scholarship that aims to produce impactful intellectual contributions that have a positive impact on sport, health, well-being and physical activity stakeholders.

Through asking important questions and providing thought leadership for policy, practice, performance and society, we have developed a research portfolio that is of the highest academic standard and is oriented towards providing solutions to grand societal challenges. Funders include the ESRC, the AHRC, NIHR, the IOC, AFC Bournemouth, UEFA, and Active Dorset.

Building on external links with private and public partners, and other bodies concerned with sport, health and physical activity, SPARC fosters an agenda, often achieved through innovative and creative methodologies, to produce research that is meaningful in that speaks to broader social, economic and sporting challenges and to a broader set of constituents / communities (from the most local to the global).

Combining scholars from a range of academic disciplines within the study of sport and physical activity, from across the University, and from established national and international Universities, SPARC is ideally suited to develop and advance knowledge that can contribute towards policy in sport, physical activity, health and well-being; enhance sporting performance and the role of participation in sport and physical activity in healthy lifestyles across the lifespan; impact practice in public/private organisations; engage the public through a variety of activities; and, contribute towards progressive societal change.

SPARC provides a dynamic, exciting and stimulating environment for a range of activities, including high-quality research outputs, research bidding related to our aims, events including hosting conferences and a seminar series to encourage debate and discussion, for international research networking and collaboration, for the on-going development of graduate students, and for funded research projects. We welcome PhD applications in related areas, and can advise on funding opportunities.

SPARC research projects

Bailey, R., (Historic Environment Scotland), Manley (Bath), Silk (Bournemouth) & Wang (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, People’s Republic of China). Producing/Consuming ‘Romantic Scotland’: Exhibitions, Heritage, Nation & the Chinese Market. AHRC (AH/P009808/1).

Evans, G., Lock, D., Blake, A. Active Ageing Evaluation. Active Dorset.

Freeman, P. (Essex) & Rees, T. Coach, Athlete, and Relational Influences on Development Athletes’ Attitudes, Intentions, and Willingness to Dope. IOC 2016 Olympic Research Programme.

Pullen, E. (PI, Loughborough) & Silk, M. (CO-I). (2020-2022). Gendered re-presentations of disability: Equality, empowerment and marginalisation in Paralympic media. AHRC (AH/T006684/1).

Saqib, N (Qatar University). Filo, K (Griffith University). Geurin, A (Griffith University), Kennelly, M (Griffith University). Lock, D (Bournemouth University). Theodorakis, N (Qatar University). & Soba, R (Qatar University). A Comparison of Sport Event Participation Outcomes across Qatar and Australia. Funded by the Qatar National Research Foundation (NPRP9-172-5-021).

Silk, M., Hubbard, P. (Kent) Fusco, C. (Toronto), Blanchette, T. (UFRDJ, Brazil) and Almeida, (UFPR, Brazil). Sex work in the context of sports mega events: Examining the impacts of Rio 2016. ESRC (ES/N018656/1).

Silk (Bournemouth), CoI’s: Hodges (Bournemouth), Scullion (Bournemouth), Jackson (Bournemouth), Stutterheim (Bournemouth), Rich (Bath) Howe (Loughborough), Silva (Nottingham) & Misener (Western Ontario). Re-presenting para-sport bodies: Disability & the cultural legacy of the Paralympics. AHRC (AH/P003842/1).


SPARC ‘pop-up’ January Seminar: Paralympic Media Research

Featuring presentations from Dr Andrea Bundon (University of British Columbia) and Dr Emma Pullen (Loughborough University).

Date: Monday 23rd January

Time: 15.30-17.00

Location: F201

What: Paralympic (Media) Research (Opening from Professor Michael Silk, Head of SPARC and research presentations from Dr Andrea Bundon & Dr Emma Pullen, time for discussion)

Presentation Titles: 

Dr Andrea Bundon (University of British Columbia): Critical perspectives on ‘gender parity’ at the Paralympic Games

Dr Emma Pullen (Loughborough University): Gendered re-presentations of disability: Equality, empowerment and marginalisation in Paralympic media

Research themes

Fostering an interdisciplinary agenda and innovative and creative methodologies that address both sporting and social concerns, there are two overlapping strands to our research.

Funded research portfolio

We pride ourselves on research that makes a real difference to the world around us. Discover how a selection of SPARC research projects, led by BU staff, students and external collaborators, are making a positive impact on society and providing thought leadership to a multitude of stakeholders. Please see reports below from recent research projects:

Re-presenting Para Sport Bodies (pdf, 24.4mb)

Levelling the Playing Field: The Impact of The Hundred (pdf, 3.8mb) 

Sex Work in the Context of the Sport Mega Event (pdf, 4.7mb)

Gendered Representations of Disability in Paralympic Media (pdf, 6mb) 

Read more