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Dr Emily J. Oliver

Associate Professor

PhD., CPsychol., AFBPsS

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Associate Professor in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


Emily joined the department in January 2014. She is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. She has a particular interest in research development and training, serving as the Department’s inaugural Director of Research and currently as Director of Postgraduates.

Her research takes the form of two inter-related strands. First, motivation, in particular how this is sustained and strengthened during crises. This includes understanding how and why people cope differently, with a focus on mental health outcomes.

The second strand focuses on translating these ideas to design equitable interventions and policies to support health and wellbeing. Here, the role of physical activity is centred, alongside consideration of how activity-based interventions can engage individuals or groups who may be excluded from standard approaches or services.

Emily has been funded as a Principal Investigator by the National Institute of Health Research, Sport England, and through the Newton Fund. Currently, she is the lead for Fuse’s Public Mental Health research programme and serves as Associate Editor of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Twitter: @_EJOliver

Google Scholar:

PhD Students

If you are interested in undertaking a PhD under her supervision, Emily would be delighted to discuss opportunities to work with you at Durham. She welcomes applications in two broad research areas. First, motivation, in particular how the environment and individual characteristics influence physical activity and mental health. Second, in translating these findings to design inclusive interventions and policies to reduce health inequalities.

Research Funding
  • Oliver, E.J. (PI) (2021). WHOLE-SMI: Wellbeing and Holistic health promotion for individuals with severe mental illness. Funder: National Institute for Health Research
  • Oliver, E.J., (PI) (2020). Evaluating community-based co-location models for supporting public mental health. Funder: National Institute for Health Research
  • Osborn, D., Oliver, E.J. (CO-I). (2019). Interventions supporting indviduals experiencing acute psychosocial crises. Funder: National Institute for Health Research.
  • Oliver, E.J. (PI) (2019). Inclusion and enagement in elite talent development systems. Funder: Sport England.
  • Oliver, E.J., Osborn, D. et al. (2019). Improving public mental health in adults experiencing key psychosocial stresses. Funder: NIHR
  • Lafortune, Buckner, Oliver et al. (2018). Developing Age-friendly rural communities: the contribution of local participatory planning processes. Funder: National Institute for Health Research.
  • Oliver, E.J. (PI) (2017). Physical Activity, Rurality, and Health in Sri Lanka: Building sustainable health promotion systems. Funder: Newton Fund.

Research groups

  • Sporting Lives


Chapter in book

Edited Journal

Journal Article


  • Rigby, B.P., Donkin, B., Oliver, E.J., Lindsey, I. & Mitchell, I. (2018). Influencing Older People's Physical Activity: A Pilot Rapid Evidence Review Produced on Behalf of the Active Durham Partnership Evidence-based Approach Group.
  • Hudson, J., Oliver, E.J., Thomas, L. & Higgs, F. (2012). Functional and Psychological Changes during a Community-based 32 Week Postural Stability Training Programme: Recommendations for Future Practice. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Supervision students