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Julie Johnston

Julie Johnston

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Julie Johnston is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology and is Module Leader for Year Two Practical Applications in Sport and Exercise Psychology (SPOR20032) and Year Two Research Design and Analysis (SPOR20162).

In addition, Dr Johnston actively researches a range of issues related to the factors influencing psychosocial development, health and wellbeing within young people as part of the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) research group.

Career overview

Dr Johnston obtained a BSc in Physical Education and Sport Science and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology, both from Loughborough University, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. She was awarded her Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology, also from Loughborough University, in 2014.

She has worked in a variety of roles including as a research officer at the Council for Curriculum, Education and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland and, most recently, as a research associate at Loughborough University. Dr Johnston regularly consults for the Amateur Swimming Association delivering coach, athlete and parent education in the area of sport performance and mental skills.

Outside of academia, Dr Johnston is a keen sportswoman. She competed on the international swimming arena for Ireland and Northern Ireland for ten years, participating in three Commonwealth Games, three World Championships, three World University Games and a number of European Championships and smaller series. Dr Johnston remains Irish record holder in the 50m freestyle short and long course.

Research areas

Dr Johnston's research focuses on behavioural, social and environmental influences on children and adolescent psychosocial development, health and wellbeing. Both her PhD and current research has focused on developing an understanding of coach and parenting roles within sport and the impact of these roles on young athletes' psychosocial development, health and wellbeing.

With a focus on coach and parenting styles and the associated provision of social support, the research seeks to understand coach and parent behaviours that should be encouraged within organised sport environments. With a highly applied element to her work, Dr Johnston regularly disseminates these research findings through applied consultancy and coach and parent education workshops through both national sporting bodies and local clubs.

While Dr Johnston's main research focus has been in the area of sport, she has also been involved in projects which seek to understand the impact of the family environment on children and adolescents' eating behaviours, sedentary behaviour and physical activity. Most recently, Dr Johnston has worked on two National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded school-based projects which seek to influence the school environment to encourage increases in physical activity and decreases in sedentary time.

Prior to this, Dr Johnston was interim project manager for a British Heart Foundation study which investigated relationships between the family environment and adolescent screen time and eating behaviours. Dr Johnston has spent much time going into schools and sports clubs and working with young people, their teachers and their parents in order to complete her research. Dr Johnston is passionate about all research related to young people and improving their social, educational and sporting experiences.

Dr Johnston was awarded the Sportesse Sport Science Free Communication Presentation Award at the British Association for Sport and Exercise Sciences Conference in November 2014.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

Dr Johnston is a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES). She is also a reviewer for a number of peer reviewed journals including Athletic Insight , Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology , and Journal of Sport Psychology in Action .

Dr Johnston regularly consults for the Amateur Swimming Association in addition to acting as an expert advisor on performance skills and a research consultant for Speedo.

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being conducted with the collaboration, funding and / or support of:


Dr Johnston has also published under the name of Douglas:

Positive youth development and talent development: Is there a best of both worlds? Harwood CG and Johnston JP in (Ed) NL Holt, Positive youth development through sport (2nd Ed.), New York, Routledge (In press)

Positive youth development in sport: Enacting the roles of coaches and parents. Johnston JP and Harwood CG in (Ed) P Davis, The Psychology of Effective Coaching and Management, Hauppauge, NY, Nova Science Publishers Inc. (In press)

Positive youth development in swimming: Clarification and consensus of key psychosocial assets. Johnston JP, Harwood CG and Minniti AM, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2013, 25, 392-411

The role of the family in talent development. Harwood CG, Douglas JP* and Minniti AM in (Ed) S Murphy, Handbook on sport and performance psychology, 2012, New York, NY, Oxford University Press

See all of Julie Johnston's publications...