Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    Projects in the area of: children's rights in sport; safeguarding children and adults from harm in sport; the lived experience of abuse; physical and emotional/psychological violence; gender-based violence and sexual harassment; overtraining and injury; youth sport policy implementation and evaluation.


    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    Melanie is Director of the Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS) and Reader in Child Protection in Sport at Edge Hill University, north-west England. Her research and teaching focus on children's (participation) rights in sport; safeguarding, child protection and abuse prevention in sport; and gender-based violence in sport. 

    Melanie works with national and international sports and safeguarding organisations and policymakers such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Council of Europe, and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) to advance what has become known globally as 'safe sport' through advising on policy and practice, delivering training, and leading on research and knowledge exchange in this area.

    She is the only UK researcher elected to the Council of Europe 'Pool of European Experts on Safe Sport', and has delivered training on child protection in sport on the IOC Safeguarding Officer in Sport programme, and for the Canadian Coaches Association, and Children1st, the largest children's charity in Scotland.

    Working with colleagues from Laval University, Quebec, Canada, and Belgium, and Germany, Melanie is part of the team that established the first global research conference on 'safe sport' - the International Congress on Safe Sport Research (ICSSR). The inaugural event is in June 2025 in Quebec City.  

    Melanie has led research projects funded by the International Olympic Committee Advanced Research Grant Programme and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency, and collaborated with colleagues on projects funded by Sport England, UK Athletics, and the Erasmus+ programme. She has published more than 30 scholarly articles and book chapters and is editor of three books: ‘The Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare’ (Routledge, 2022), ‘Safeguarding, Child Protection and Abuse in Sport: International Perspectives in Research, Policy and Practice’ (Routledge, 2015), and ‘Bullying and the Abuse of Power’ (Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010). 

    Within Edge Hill University, Melanie is Faculty Designated Safeguarding Officer, sits on the institutional Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee, and is the Social Sciences International Co-ordinator for the study abroad scheme. She supervises and exmaines PhD projects nationally and internationally, mentors EHU staff on the Aurora programme and Visiting Researchers to CPSS, leads the CPSS popular public webinar series, and  co-designed the UK's first MA in Safeguarding in Sport (open from autumn 2024). 

    In 2021/22 she was selected as a Fellow of the Institute for Social Responsibility and contributed to running the Institute's activities, including offering ethics training for PGRs and staff and leading and ISR-sponsored online research seminar series. 

    Research interests

    Children's rights in sport, especially participation or 'voice'

    Safeguarding, child protection and abuse prevention in sport

    Welfare and well-being of adult and child athletes

    Gender-based violence in sport (sexual harassment & sexual violence in sport)

    'Safe sport' policy implementation and evaluation

    Narrative methodology and pedagogy

    Ethnographic research

    Research ethics & conducting 'sensitive' research


    Melanie has been teaching modules on safeguarding, child protection, and children's rights in sport since 2005. She supervises taught and research Masters and PhD students working in the areas of children's rights, safeguarding, child protection, and gender-based violence prevention in sport. 

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

    Education/Academic qualification

    Academic Practice, PGCert, York St John University

    Award Date: 16 Jul 2010

    Sociology of Sport, PhD, Swimming in the Panopticon: An Exploration of Good Practice in Child Protection in British Swimming , Leeds Beckett University


    Award Date: 9 May 2009

    Sociology of Sport, MA, Sport, Leisure and Equity, Leeds Beckett University


    Award Date: 16 Jul 2005

    Modern Languages, BA, French and Linguistics, University of Sheffield

    Award Date: 27 Jun 1998

    Other positions

    Ambassador, Freedom from Abuse (charity)

    Jun 2020 → …

    Expert research member, Université Laval

    1 Oct 2019 → …

    Member of the UK Coaching Safeguarding Talented and Elite Children Expert Group


    Expert member of the Pool of European Experts on Sexual Violence in Sport

    2017Dec 2019

    Associate editor, International Journal of Sport and Health

    Jun 2014Jun 2015

    Associate editor, International Journal of Sport and Society

    Jun 2014Jun 2016

    Associate editor, Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education

    Jun 2014Jun 2015

    Member of the editorial board of the Irish Journal of Sociology


    Member of the Sport England/ NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit Research Evidence and Advisory Group

    2009 → …

    Editorial advisory board member, 'Network' - the British Sociological Association's member publication

    Sept 2008Jul 2015


    • H Social Sciences
    • sport, sociology, child protection, safeguarding, gender-based violence, athlete welfare, abuse
    • violence, maltreatment, gender-based violence
    • HM Sociology
    • H Social Sciences (General)
    • HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
    • GV Recreation Leisure

    Research Institutes

    • Institute for Social Responsibility

    Research Centres

    • Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport


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