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Professor Brett Smith

Director of Research, Professor of Disability and Physical Activity

Director of Research, Professor of Disability and Physical Activity in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences 
Fellow of the Durham Research Methods Centre


Brett Smith is the Department Director of Research. He held a Chair first at Loughborough University and then at the University of Birmingham before joining Durham in 2019. Brett’s extensively funded research focuses on disability, physical activity, sport, and health. It combines knowledge from different disciplines, including psychology, sociology, public health, and critical disability studies. Brett is an author of the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines and leads this work on disability. He also advises the UK Government Office for Health Involvement and Disparities as well as major organisations, like Disability Rights UK, Sport for Confidence, and Durham County Council, on disability, physical activity, and co-production.

Brett is the principal investigator of the funded, award-winning project ‘Moving Social Work’. This 5-year co-produced research is about embedding physical activity in social work education and practice so that these professionals can work with disabled people to be more physically active. As part of this, Moving Social Work advances physical activity research on implementation science and knowledge translation, co-production, intersectionality, and multiagency working and integrated care.

In addition to expertise on disability, physical activity, and co-production, Brett is a methodologist in qualitative research. He has a particular interest in narrative inquiry, rigor, and arts-based research. Brett is the co-founder and President of the International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise. He is also the founder and former Editor of Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. Currently he serves as an Associate Editor of Psychology of Sport and Exercise and was previously the Associate Editor of Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology. Over his career he has served on the Editorial Board of 15 journals. These include Qualitative Research in Psychology, Disability and Society, and Sociology of Sport Journal.

Twitter: @BrettSmithProf

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PhD supervision
Brett welcomes applications from potential PhD students interested in the psycho-social aspects of disability, sport, physical activity, and/or social justice.

Research interests

  • Disability
  • Physical Activity
  • Co-production
  • Qualitative Research


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students