Sports Dissertation Topics

Sports and Exercise Physiology

If you are interested in how the human body functions both anatomically and physiologically, Sport and Exercise Physiology would be a very interesting topic. Have a look at some of our suggestions listed below:

Example sports and exercise physiology dissertation topic 1:

Decreases in body mass in ultra-endurance swimming: Case studies of cross-Channel swimmers.

Evidence has shown that decreases in total body mass in participants of ultra-endurance sports such as Ironman competitions are attributable to reductions in fat mass and skeletal muscle mass rather than the previously attributed dehydration (Knechtle, Knechtle, Rosemann and Oliver, 2010). This paper considers whether the same can be said for ultra-endurance swimming, such as that in cross-Channel swimming. The study tracks six swimmers, three male and three female and explores changes in hydration, skeletal muscle mass, fat mass and plasma urea in a non-impact sport where the body faces additional challenges such as temperature, and immersion in water, and determines total weight changes in so doing.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bircher, S., Enggist, A., Jehle, T. and Knechtle, B. (2006). ‘Effects of an extreme endurance race on energy balance and body composition: A case report’, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, Vol. 5, pp. 154-162.
  • Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., Rosemann, T. and Oliver, S. (2010). ‘A triple iron triathlon leads to a decrease in total body mass but not to dehydration’, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Vol. 81(3), pp. 319-327.
  • Lee, R.C., Wang, Z., Heo, M., Ross, R., Janssen, I. and Heymsfield, S.B. (2000). ‘Total-body skeletal muscle mass: Development and cross-validation of anthropometric prediction models’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, pp. 796-803.

Example sports and exercise physiology dissertation topic 2:

Re-engaging the sedentary white collar worker: A case study with those who have not exercised for over two years.

Those who work in sedentary workplaces – such as those experienced by academics, office workers, and freelance writers – typically undertake less physical exercise in their daily working lives than those involved in more physically demanding occupations, such as brick-laying. When combined with over-use of cars, long commutes and other pressures of modern day living, the lack of activity can lead to many white collar workers becoming increasingly disengaged from exercise and sport. This dissertation assess the extent to which yoga (as a low-intensity alternative to more vigorous exercise such as jogging) can be used as mechanism through which to re-engage those who, by their own accounts, have taken little active interest in exercise for a period in excess of two years. The study group consists of twenty people aged 30-45 who all live in Slough and it is hoped that the results of this two-month long study could have repercussions for exercise take-up initiatives amongst this age-range across the country.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cheema, B.S., Marshall, P.W., Chang, D., Colagiuri, B. and Machliss, B. (2011). ‘Effect of an office worksite-based yoga program on heart rate variability: A randomized controlled trial’, BMC Public Health, Vol. 11(1), pp. 578.
  • McCormack, G., Giles-Corti, B., Lange, A., Smith, T., Martin, K. and Pikora, T.J. (2004). ‘An update of recent evidence of the relationship between objective and self-report measures of the physical environment and physical activity behaviours’, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Vol. 7(1), pp. 81-92.
  • Taylor, W.C. (2005). ‘Transforming work breaks to promote health’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 29(5), pp. 461-465.

Example sports and exercise physiology dissertation topic 3:

School sports as a percentage of daily exercise: A comparative case-study of two towns in Wales.

Examining the perceived linkage between deprivation and exercise, this dissertation is focused upon two schools located in distinct socio-economic environments. With the parental permission of twenty Year 10 pupils from a school in secondary school based in the middle of an estate in Swansea, and twenty Year 10 pupils from an independent school in Cardiff, the forty volunteers are fitted with pedometers to wear during normal waking hours for a period of seven days (so as to cover school days and weekends). Both schools provide pupils with the same number of hours of sport and PE per week, and the participating individuals are broadly matched in gender, body composition and interests. Accordingly, the pedometer results from the pupils should provide data that enable conclusions to be drawn not only on location and socio-economic divides but also gender as well as ‘healthy’ and ‘at risk’ family types.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bassett, D., Cureton, A. and Ainsworth, B. (2000). ‘Measurement of daily walking distance: Questionnaire versus pedometer’, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol. 32(5), pp. 1018-1023.
  • Berkey, C.S., Rockett, H.R., Field, A.E., Gillman, M.W., Frazier, A.L., Camargo, C.A. and Colditz, G.A. (2000). ‘Activity, dietary intake, and weight changes in a longitudinal study of preadolescent and adolescent boys and girls’, Pediatrics, Vol. 105(4), pp. e56-e56.
  • Wilde, B., Corbin, C. and Le Masurier, G. (2004). ‘Free-living pedometer step counts of high school students’, Pediatric Exercise Science, Vol. 16, pp. 44-53.

Example sports and exercise physiology dissertation topic 4:

Comparing resting metabolic rates: The effect of menstruation – a case study of thirty middle aged women in Ludlow, Shropshire.

Focusing upon an oft overlooked aspect of sports science, this dissertation firstly reviews the existing literature upon this subject before applying it to a group of thirty 35-50 year old women living in Ludlow, Shropshire. This is a study that would best be undertaken at postgraduate level as the observation period should ideally be for a period of between three and six months. It is envisaged that participants will keep a diary of their dietary intakes, daily levels of exercise, menstrual cycles, and energy levels. These can then be compared both at an individual and group level, taking account of individual menstrual cycles, fitness levels and other lifestyle factors.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • De Souza, M.J., Lee, D.K., VanHeest, J.L., Scheid, J.L., West, S.L. and Williams, N.I. (2007). ‘Severity of energy-related menstrual disturbances increases in proportion to indices of energy conservation in exercising women’, Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 88(4), pp. 971-975.
  • Gilliat-Wimberly, M., Manore, M.M., Woolf, K., Swan, P.D. and Carroll, S.S. (2001). ‘Effects of habitual physical activity on the resting metabolic rates and body compositions of women aged 35 to 50 years’, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 101(10), pp. 1181-1188.
  • Williams, N.I., Helmreich, D.L., Parfitt, D.B., Caston-Balderrama, A. and Cameron, J.L. (2001). ‘Evidence for a causal role of low energy availability in the induction of menstrual cycle disturbances during strenuous exercise training’, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 86(11), pp. 5184-5193.

Sports Psychology

Psychology may be your favourite of the social sciences. This topic looks at the psychological consequences of engaging in sports and exercise. You can view some useful examples below:


Example sports psychology dissertation topic 1:

Injury-resultant acts of aggression in rugby: Perspectives of victims with regard to contributory acts and behaviour.

Given the work of Mummendey and Mummendey (1983), whereby aggression in sport may be seen as a form of social interaction and over which both all parties exert an influence, this paper surveys the perspectives of thirty victims of aggression in rugby, in incidents which resulted in injuries requiring further medical treatment off the field. Additionally, the views of aggressors, referees and witnesses are taken into account, in considering the degree to which victims felt that they had contributed to the act of aggression. Finally, the paper explores whether the likelihood of being caught exacerbated or diminished the level of aggression, and the means by which to reduce acts of violence.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Mummandey, A. and Mummandey, H.D. (1983). ‘Aggressive behaviour of soccer players as social interaction’. In, Goldstein, J.H. (ed.), Sports violence. New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 111-118.
  • Traclet, A., Rascle, O., Souchon, N., Coulomb-Cabagno, G. and Dosseville, F. (2008). ‘Aggressor and victim perspective related difference in perceived legitimacy of aggression in soccer’, Perceptual and Motor Skills, Vol. 106, pp. 234-240.
  • Visek, A. and Watson, J. (2005). ‘Ice hockey players’ legitimacy of aggression and professionalization of attitudes’, The Sport Psychologist, Vol., 19, pp. 178-192.

Example sports psychology dissertation topic 2:

‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again’: Exercise as a treatment to the recovery of self-worth after domestic violence.

Victims of domestic abuse often suffer from anxiety, low-self esteem and stress disorders, whereas physical activity promotes psychological well-being. Working with survivors of domestic abuse from Glasgow, this dissertation seeks to assess the positive effect that group exercise has on domestic violence survivors and how they view themselves. Working with an intervention team from a women’s emergency hostel and fifteen brave volunteers, this study charts the ‘highs and lows’ of the women’s recovery and their use of exercise over a four month period. Quantitative as well as qualitative analysis should be used in this dissertation as well as a very thorough review of existing literature.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dimeo, F., Bauer, M., Varahram, I., Proest, G. and Halter, U. (2001). ‘Benefits from aerobic exercise in patients with major depression: A pilot study’, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 35, pp. 114-117.
  • Scully, D., Kremer, J., Meade, M.M., Graham, R. and Dudgeon, K. (1998). ‘Physical exercise and psychological well being: A critical review’, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 32, pp. 111-120.
  • Sullivan, C.M. and Bybee, D.I. (1999). ‘Reducing violence using community-based advocacy for women with abusive partners’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 67, pp. 43-53.


You may be interested in specific movements within a sport you love! Biomechanics helps with the understanding of motion and the forces generated or experienced by the human body. There may be some examples from the list below which may be of use to you:


Example biomechanics dissertation topic 1:

The advantages and disadvantages of daily training exceeding two hours’ duration in field hockey stick skills: An analysis of results and gender differentiation over a period of three weeks.

This dissertation follows the changes in stick handling skills in two groups: one of seven female field hockey players aged between eighteen and 24, and one of seven male field hockey players aged between eighteen and 24, all of whom are students at the University of Loughborough. The level of a range of stick skills for each of the participants is registered, and video footage taken at weekly intervals to substantiate changes. The thesis explores whether there is a peak in improvement at the end of the second week, with a decline in the third week. The hypothesis proposed is that the intensive regime becomes excessively onerous and waning enthusiasm diminishes skill levels.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bullock, W., Panchuk, D., Broatch, J., Christian, R. and Stepto, N.K. (2012). ‘An integrative test of agility, speed and skill in soccer: Effects of exercise’, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Vol. 15(5), pp. 431-436.
  • Gabbett, T., Jenkins, D. and Abernethy, B. (2009). ‘Game-based training for improving skill and physical fitness in team sport athletes’, International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, Vol. 4(2), pp. 273-283.
  • Podgórski, T. and Pawlak, M. (2011). ‘A half century of scientific research in field hockey’, Human Movement, Vol. 12(2), pp. 108-123.

Sports Nutrition

Diet and nutrition may be an important part of your daily lifestyle. Looking at the examples below may assist you with your dissertation and health as a whole:


Example sports nutrition dissertation topic 1:

Promoting healthy lives through exercise and diet in primary schools.

In 2005 Jamie Oliver launched his campaign to improve school meals in England and Wales. Revisiting this issue and combining it with the enhanced provision of physical education this dissertation looks at issues of healthy living with a group of twenty Year 6 children (and their parents) in a primary school in Walsall. Staring from a hypothesis that notes the trade off between diet and exercise, this study asks whether PE should also include classroom-based work (in addition to gym work) in which children are educated as to how looking after their bodies from a young age can help them develop physically and mentally as they prepare for the transition (and peer pressures) of secondary school.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Baranowski, T., Domel, S., Gould, R., Baranowski, J., Leonard, S., Treiber, F. and Mullis, R. (1993). ‘Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among 4th and 5th grade students: Results from focus groups using reciprocal determinism’, Journal of Nutrition Education, Vol. 25(3), pp. 114-120.
  • Brug, J., Tak, N.I., te Velde, S.J., Bere, E. and Bourdeaudhuij, I.D. (2008). ‘Taste preferences, liking and other factors related to fruit and vegetable intakes among schoolchildren: Results from observational studies’, British Journal of Nutrition, 99(I), pp. S7-S14.
  • Croll, J.K., Neumark-Sztainer, D. and Story, M. (2001). ‘Healthy eating: What does it mean to adolescents?’, Journal of Nutrition Education, Vol. 33(4), pp. 193-198.

Behaviour Change in Sport

Have you ever thought about how behaviour can change through different sporting activities? The suggestions below will help you answer this very important question:


Example behaviour change in sport dissertation topic 1:

Walking to work: A step in the right direction.

Active commuting – through either walking or cycling contributes to a healthy lifestyle by increasing physical activity on a daily basis. Working with a group of 20 commuters within Zone One of the London Underground, this dissertation charts commuters’ perceptions of ‘walking to work’ over a two-week period in which each has agreed to abandon either bus or tube in favour of ‘human power’. This dissertation not only evaluates their changing levels of perception but also evaluates the positive health benefits of this short-term experiment by measuring stationary heart rates at the start, middle and end points of the experiment as well as BMI levels and waist circumference. It is hoped that the results of the dissertation can be used as part of a wider education campaign to encourage those who live a short distance to work to become more active.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bauman, A.E., Sallis, J.F., Dzewaltowski, D.A. and Owen, N. (2002). ‘Toward a better understanding of the influences on physical activity: The role of determinants, correlates, causal variables, mediators, moderators, and confounders’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 23(2), pp. 5-14.
  • Besson, H., Ekelund, U., Brage, S., Luben, R., Bingham, S., Khaw, K.T. and Wareham, N.J. (2008). ‘Relationship between subdomains of total physical activity and mortality’, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Vol. 40(11), pp. 1909-1915.
  • Mackey, M.G., Bohle, P., Taylor, P., Di Biase, T., McLoughlin, C. and Purnell, K. (2011). ‘Walking to wellness in an ageing sedentary university community: Design, method and protocol’, Contemporary Clinical Trials, Vol. 32(2), pp. 273-279.

Sociology of Sport

Maybe theories and concepts are more your thing? These sociological topics help to connect these theories / concepts with professional challenges, cultural examples and personal experiences.


Example sociology of sport dissertation topic 1:

No longer of Olympian standard – a review of events no longer included.

Baseball and softball were both dropped from the list of sports to be contested in the 2012 Summer Olympics. In being consigned to the ‘dustbin of Olympic events’, they join a long and varied list of discontinued sports. The year 1900 was the last year in which live pigeon shooting, the swimming obstacle event, and croquet appeared within the Olympics, whilst the rope climb has not appeared since 1932 and lacrosse last appeared in 1908. This dissertation seeks to evaluate the reasons behind the dropping of these minority sports from the Olympics and questions whether or not they are any less demanding than those that have taken their place (for instance, synchronised swimming was introduced in 1984). This is a dissertation that accordingly combines historic primary sources relating to the governance of sport, public perceptions of the acceptability of individual sports (it may be noted that the live pigeon shooting resulted in the death of some 300 birds), as well as issues pertaining to subsequent sporting sponsorship, and widening participation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Forster, J. (2006). ‘Global sports organisations and their governance’, Corporate Governance, Vol. 6(1), pp. 72-83.
  • Kelly, L. (2011). ”Social inclusion’ through sports-based interventions?’, Critical Social Policy, Vol. 31(1), pp. 126-150.
  • Lenskyj, H.J. (2000). Inside the Olympic industry: Power, politics and activism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Sports Management

Interested in sports management? Well maybe these suggestions below could help:

Example sports managment dissertation topic 1:

An evaluation of the market position and brand identity of Bannatyne’s Health Clubs.

Within the field of personal physical exercise, the gym empire of Duncan Bannatyne is a national phenomenon. Using market analysis tools as well as interviews with staff and patrons, this dissertation evaluates the strengths of the brand and seeks to establish what it is that make people join a Bannatyne’s Health Club for their personal physical exercise rather than other providers within their neighbourhoods. This is a dissertation that would be ideally suited to a sports science student who is interested in pursuing a career in leisure and gym management or who has combined their study of sports science with business management.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Alexandris, K., Zahariadis, P., Tsorbatzoudis, C. and Grouios, G. (2004). An empirical investigation of the relationships among service quality, customer satisfaction and psychological commitment in a health club context. European Sport Management Quarterly, 4(1), pp. 36-52.
  • Filo, K., Funk, D. C. and Alexandris, K. (2008). Exploring the role of brand trust in the relationship between brand associations and brand loyalty in sport and fitness. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 3(1), pp. 39-57.
  • Stokes, D., Syed, S. A. and Lomax, W. (2002). Shaping up word of mouth marketing strategy: The case of an independent health club. Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, 4(2), pp. 119-133.

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