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Dr Sarah Partington

Principal Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology/Director of Learning and Teaching - Student Satisfaction, Engagement and Support (Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation programmes)

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

Sarah completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at St. Andrews University and then went on to complete her Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Exeter University.

Sarah Partington Staffprofile Northumbriauniversity255

Sarah remained at Exeter to complete her PhD under the supervision of Professor Andrew Sparkes. Sarah has lectured at Northumbria University since 2001 and during that time has occupied several leadership roles, including Director of Programmes and Head of Department (Sport and Exercise Sciences).  Sarah is currently one of the Department’s Directors of Learning and Teaching, and her specific remit is around student satisfaction, engagement and support.  Sarah provides research, teaching and consultancy expertise in sport and exercise psychology and she is a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (HEA).    

Sarah is a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist and is on the Health and Care Professions Council Register (Practitioner Psychologist).  She is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) including their Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP) and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists (BASES). She has previously served on the DSEP committee, contributing to the development of the DSEP CPD workshop series.  Sarah is an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 5 accredited coach and utilises a coaching approach in her teaching and in her work with athletes.

Sarah has worked as a sport psychology consultant across a range of sports at both National and International level. Previous consultancy work includes provision of psychological support for England Badminton, where Sarah had specific responsibility for the Development squads. Whilst working for England Badminton, Sarah co-wrote the psychology curriculum for England Badminton’s long-term athlete development programme, and had a regular sport psychology column in ‘Badminton Magazine,’ a nationally distributed publication.  Sarah has a particular interest in student athletes and the mental health and well-being demands associated with the dual role of being both an athlete and a scholar.

Campus Address

Northumberland Building

0191 243 7554


PhD, CPsychol, FHEA, ILM Level 5 Accredited Coach

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Sarah’s research interests and expertise fall broadly within the domain of sport and exercise medicine. Her work is positioned on the nexus between clinical, counselling and sport psychology and she works specifically in the area of athlete mental health and well-being. Sarah has a particular interest in identity. She looks at the processes via which identities are constructed, what happens when identities are threatened or in conflict and how identity links to motivated behaviour. From a methodological perspective, Sarah has expertise in narrative and narrative analysis. She is interested in narrative therapy as a psychotherapeutic intervention associated with identity construction and management and how this type of intervention might be applied in sport settings.  Whilst Sarah’s work is predominantly focused on athlete populations, she has previously applied her expertise to other groups.  In particular, Sarah has contributed to a strand of research exploring mental health issues in the wider student population and in expert and novice firefighters. Sarah is part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers working on projects designed to improve the recognition, management and treatment of mental health issues in athletic populations and to support the creation of an effective model of mental health service delivery in elite sport.

Professional Activity

  • Committee Member British Psychological Society Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology (DSEP) (2007-10).
  • External Examiner for BSc Psychology (Sport and Exercise Psychology modules), Buckingham University (2012).
  • External advisor for BSc Sport and Exercise Psychology re-approval event, Chichester University (2009).
  • External Examiner for 1 MPhil thesis, Ekaterini Patsourakou, ‘Perceptions about career termination among Greek female athletes,’ University of Essex (2012).
  • Invited member of the scientific committee for the 6th International Network on Brief Interventions (INEBRIA, 2009).
  • Consultant on National Union of Students (NUS) policy document on student drinking (2013)

Sponsors and Collaborators

  • Dr Fran Longstaff, Senior Lecturer in Sport Psychology, Middlesex University.
  • Dr Richard Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Keele University.
  • Dr Alan Currie Consultant Psychiatrist, Regional Affective Disorders Service, NTW NHS Foundation Trust).
  • Dr Glen Rae, Sports Medicine Consultant and Clinical Lead MSK CATS, South Tyneside Foundation Trust.

Current/Recent Projects

Title: Use and abuse of alcohol in UK University Sport
Role: Principal Investigator (Co-I: Liz Partington)
Agency: Alcohol Education and Research Council (now Alchohol Research UK)
Date: 2007

Key Publications

Longstaff, F., Heather, N.,   Allsop, S., Partington, E., Jankowski, M., Wareham, H., St Clair Gibson, A., & Partington, S. (2015). Drinking outcome expectancies and normative perceptions of students and student-athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 9, 59-75

Young P.M., Partington S., Wetherell M.  St Clair Gibson A., & Partington E., (2014) Stressors and coping strategies of UK firefighters. Stress and Health, Dec, 366-376

Longstaff, F; Heather, N; Jankowski, M; Allsop, S; Wareham, H; Partington, S; Partington, E. & St Clair Gibson, A. (2014)  Readiness to change drinking behaviour among heavy drinking university students in England.  Education and Health, 32(2), 40-45.

Young P.M., St Clair Gibson A., Partington E., Partington S., & Wetherell M. (2014). Psychophysiological responses in experienced firefighters undertaking repeated novel self-contained breathing apparatus tasks Published on line in Ergonomics. Nov 03 2014.

Partington, S., Partington, E., Heather, N., Longstaff, F., Allsop, S., Jankowski, M., Wareham, H., Stephens, R., & St Clair Gibson, A. (2013).  The relationship between membership of a university sports group and drinking behaviour among students at English Universities. Addiction Research and Theory, 21, 4, 339-347.

Heather, N., Partington, S.,Partington, E, Longstaff, F.,Allsop, S., Jankowski, M.,Wareham, H., & St. Clair Gibson, A. (2011). Alcohol use disorders and hazardous drinking in undergraduates at English Universities. Alcohol and Alcoholism,46(3), 270-277.

PGR Supervision

Director of studies

  • Joanne Smith. PhD thesis entitled: A longitudinal study of the role of social status and social satisfaction in university student drinking behaviour.

Co supervision

  • Mark Jankowski. PhD thesis entitled: A longitudinal study of alcohol-related harm in heavy drinking university students during and post-graduation, with particular reference to sport participation.
  • Michael Kelly. PhD thesis entitled: Development of a clinician intervention programme to improve adherence to exercise on referral schemes.
  • Fran Longstaff. PhD thesis entitled: Factors affecting the optimal use of imagery and self-talk in golfers. (Awarded 2011)


Paul Young. PhD thesis entitled: The impact of self-contained breathing apparatus tasks upon the cognition, physiology, and coping strategies of firefighters (Awarded 2012). 


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