UEA & Norwich City: A partnership approach


The poster provides an overview of the partnership established between the UEA and Norwich City over the past 5 years. It outlines the way that the MSc pre-registration physiotherapy students develop their research dissertation topics through a collaborative approach with physiotherapists at the Norwich City football club academy. It identifies the research questions investigated by current and previous Masters students. The final section demonstrates the benefits of using research to inform practice in the elite professional football academy setting and the value of making explicit links between research, education and practice. It does this through the narrative of the physiotherapists, students and academic staff themselves.


This poster provides an overview of the context, process and specific research questions developed through Masters' dissertation projects undertaken over the previous 5 years.


Over the past 5 years there have been a wide range of topics and research questions identified by staff at Norwich City Football Club. These topics have been refined into specific research questions through a process of dialogue between university faculty, physiotherapists and students. The findings of students dissertations have informed clinical practice and helped develop insight into a number of key topic areas. Projects have included systematic review of the available literature underpinning the topic, and data analysis (such as incidence of player injury or GPS data) to explore the link between theory and practice. Some of the findings of these projects have led to guidelines for clinical practice at Norwich City and all of them have provided insight into the use of evidence to inform practice in the elite professional football academy setting.


The partnership between Norwich City and the UEA school of Health Sciences has allowed students to undertake research projects that are driven by real-life questions which they can relate directly to practice. By engaging in supervision with both UEA faculty and Norwich City staff, students are able to demonstrate both academic and professional development. They are able to see the potential impact of their research activity first hand, and become part of a research community in a real-life setting. In presenting back their finding to the Norwich City medical team they are able to play an active part in this community by discussing the potential implications of their findings. Some students have gained employment in this setting as a direct result of their exposure.

This model of collaborative working between physiotherapists in a real-life setting and students in higher education has worked extremely well in this setting. We believe it can be used as an exemplar for physiotherapists working in any clinical environment. In striving for evidence-based practice it makes sense to collaborate effectively together to utilise the skills and experience of people within the communities of research, education and professional practice.

Top three learning points

Students really value the opportunity to focus their research dissertation on addressing a real-life question because they can see where the question has come from, why it is relevant and maybe have the chance to influence practice with their findings.   

Engaging with real life partners in planning, carrying out and disseminating research can help forge powerful relationships between education and practice.

Partnerships such as this where can help everyone involved achieve their goals effectively and efficiently.

Funding acknowledgements

Student dissertations are organised and conducted by the University of East Anglia as part of the educational programme and therefore no additional funding has been required. Thanks goes to the medical staff of Norwich City F.C. for the time that they have given to this collaborative process to date.

Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2017

For further information contact: J.Larner@uea.ac.uk