School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Professor Barrie Houlihan

Photo of Professor Barrie Houlihan

Professor Houlihan has degrees from the universities of Liverpool and Salford. Prior to his appointment as Professor of Sport Policy at Loughborough University in September 1998 he was Professor of Public Policy at Staffordshire University where he was also Head of the Division of International Relations and Politics and Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In addition to his work as a teacher and researcher, Professor Houlihan has chaired, or been a member of, various committees for Sport England, UK Sport and the Centre for Social Justice. He has also undertaken consultancy work for the European Union, the Youth Sport Trust, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, PEAUK, BAALPE, the Department for Education and Skills, the Council of Europe, the World Anti-Doping Agency, UK Sport, Sport England, sportscotland and UNESCO.

In 2011 Professor Houlihan was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Research interests include:

  • public policy for sport, particularly in the areas of sport development
  • elite sport development systems
  • anti-doping
  • youth sport
  • theorising the sport policy process
  • diplomacy and sport
  • sport in small states

Selected External Research-Related Roles


  • Editor in Chief, International Journal of Sport Policy & Politics
  • Chair, UK Sport Anti-Doping Research Steering Group, 2006-2009
  • Convenor and member of the editorial board of Leisure Studies
  • Member, Board of Trustees, ISPAL, 2008-2011
  • Member, Working group on sport and welfare of young people, Centre for Social Justice, 2010 - 2011


Selected Invited Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations

  • The Doping Issue, EU Symposium, Bio-medical side effects of doping: Harmonising the knowledge. Invited lecture at Technical University of Munich, 21st October 2006
  • Sport in small states: Sport and politics at the margin, University of Otago, November 2012
  • Recent developments in anti-doping policy and challenges for the future, Japan Anti-Doping Agency 26th February 2013
  • Improving and proving: Evaluating anti-doping education programmes, Japan Anti-Doping Agency 26th February 2013
  • Good governance, integrity and anti-doping: the changing global context of sport, Tsukuba University, 27th February 2013
  • Sport policy and the changing landscape of sport in Europe, EASS conference,  Utrecht, May 2014
  • Comparative analysis of elite sport development systems, University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil, August 2014
  • The changing landscape of sport in England, PSA conference, Durham University, January 2015

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • An evaluation of specialist sports colleges, Youth Sport Trust and DfES. £185,000 (2002-2007). Project leader.
  • New Opportunities Fund. An evaluation of projects designed to improve the quality of PE and sports facilities in schools (with four others). £1,200,000 over six years (2003 - 2009). Project team member.
  • School Sport Partnership programme: An evaluation of the SSP programme for DfES, DCMS, YST & Sport England (with four other colleagues) £650,000 over six years (2003-2009). Project leader.
  • An evaluation of the Active Schools initiative, sportscotland, (with four other colleagues) £193,000, 2004-2007. Project team member.
  • Developing an evaluation methodology for anti-doping education programmes, World Anti-Doping Agency, (2010-11), £30,000.
  • An assessment of the extent of the use of legislation in combating doping in sport, UNESCO, (2009) with Dr Borja Garcia, £10,000.
  • Houlihan, B. and Bradbury, S. (2013) 10 Years of teamwork: McDonalds national grassroots partnerships 2002-2012, McDonalds UK.
  • Good governance in international sport federations, European Union (with seven colleagues) £10,000) 2014


  • Participation in sport, (with M Nicholson and R Hoye eds.), Routledge: London, 2010
  • A Handbook of Sports Development (with Mick Green eds.) Routledge: 2011 
  • British Sport Policy (with Iain Lindsey), New York: Routledge: 2012 
  • Anti-doping governance, research and policy (with M McNamee eds.) Routledge, 2013 
  • Youth Olympic Games (with Dag Vidar Hanstad and Milena Parent eds.) Routledge, 2014
  • Sport and Society: A student introduction (edited volume with Dominic Malcolm) Sage, (3rd edition forthcoming 2015)
  • Elite Youth Sport (edited volume with Elsa Christensen and Milena Parent), Routledge (in preparation)

Articles and chapters

  • Theorising the analysis of sport policy. In Henry, I. and Ko, L-M (eds.) International handbook of sport policy analysis, London: Routledge. (2013).
  • Sport policy convergence: A framework for analysis, European Sport Management Quarterly, (2012 issue 2)
  • Chinese Olympic Sport Policy: Managing the Impact of Globalisation (with Tien Chin Tan) IRSS, 2012 iFirst publication
  • London 2012: the (in)security Games (with Richard Giulianotti), International Affairs, 88.4, 701-718, (2012)
  • The Olympics and elite sport policy: Where will it all end? (with Jinming Zheng), International Journal of the History of Sport, 30. 4, (2013) 338-355.
  • Sports Mega-Events as Part of a Nation’s Soft Power Strategy: The Cases of Germany (2006) and the UK, (with J Grix) British Journal of Politics and International Relations, (2014)
  • Delivery networks and community sport in England (with Spencer Harris) International Journal of Public Sector Management (2013)
  • Achieving compliance in international anti-doping policy: an analysis of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code, Sport Management Review, (2014) ifirst