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About Nollaig McEvilly

After graduating from the University of Limerick in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) in Physical Education, Nollaig spent over four years teaching play and movement classes to young children and their parents/guardians. During this time, she completed a master’s degree (by research and thesis) that focused on parents’ roles in children’s play. Nollaig’s PhD (The University of Edinburgh, 2012) was titled, ‘The Place and Meaning of “Physical Education” to Practitioners and Children at Three Preschool Contexts in Scotland’. Nollaig is currently Area Leader for the Sociology of Sport strand of the BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Sciences. She is a member of the Department Research Committee and is on the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Research Ethics Committee. Nollaig is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

External Roles

Nollaig has been the Editor of European Physical Education Review since December 2014 (having previously been the Assistant Editor). She has also reviewed papers for Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy; International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics; Sport, Education and Society; Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health; Leisure Studies; Curriculum Journal; and International Journal of Early Years Education. She is a member of AIESEP (International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education).


Nollaig teaches on the following modules:

  • Introduction to the Sociology of Sport and Exercise (Level 4)
  • Contemporary Issues in Sport (Level 5)
  • Research Methods (Level 5)
  • Issues in Sport, Health and Exercise (Level 6)
  • Issues in Physical Education (Level 6)
  • Theories of Sport and Exercise (MSc)
  • Contemporary Issues in Sport and Exercise (MSc)
  • Research Methods (MSc)

Nollaig also supervises dissertations at BSc and MSc level and is currently co-supervising a PhD with Dr Ann MacPhail (University of Limerick).


Research interests:

  • Preschool physical education
  • Sociology of physical education, physical activity and health
  • Sociology of childhood
  • Children’s play
  • Foucault
  • Qualitative research methods

Nollaig would welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing PhDs in these areas.

Published Work

Selected Publications

Tynan, R. & McEvilly, N. (2017). ‘No pain, no gain’: Former elite female gymnasts’ engagements with pain and injury discourses. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 9(4), 469-484. DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2017.1323778

Jess, M., McEvilly, N., & Carse, N. (2016). Moving primary physical education forward: Start at the beginning. Education 3-13. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2016.1155072

McEvilly, N., Atencio, M., & Verheul, M. (2015). Developing children: Developmental discourses underpinning physical education at three Scottish preschool settings. Sport, Education and Society. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2015.1114917

McEvilly, N., Verheul, M., & Atencio, M. (2015). Physical education at preschools: Practitioners’ and children’s engagements with physical activity and health discourses. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(6), 832-852. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2013.848780

Jess, M., & McEvilly, N. (2015). Traditional and contemporary approaches to career-long professional learning: A primary physical education journey in Scotland. Education 3-13, 43(3), 225-237. DOI: 10.1080/03004279.2013.804851

McEvilly, N., Verheul, M., & Atencio, M. (2015). Physical education at preschools: The meaning of ‘physical education’ to practitioners at three preschool settings in Scotland. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 20(2), 117-130. DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2013.798407

McEvilly, N. (2015). Investigating the place and meaning of ‘physical education’ to preschool children: Methodological lessons from a research study. Sport, Education and Society, 20(3), 340-360. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2012.761965

McEvilly, N. (2014). Experiences and outcomes of preschool physical education: An analysis of developmental discourses in Scottish curricular documentation. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 15(1), 29-39. DOI: 10.2304/ciec.2014.15.1.29

McEvilly, N., Verheul, M., Atencio, M., & Jess, M. (2014). Physical education for health and wellbeing: A discourse analysis of Scottish physical education curricular documentation. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(2), 278-293. DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2012.745736

McEvilly, N., Atencio, M., Verheul, M., & Jess, M. (2013). Understanding the rationale for preschool physical education: Implications for practitioners’ and children’s embodied practices and subjectivity formation. Sport, Education and Society, 18(6), 731-748. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2011.606807

MacPhail, A., Halbert, J., McEvilly, N., Hutchinson, C., & MacDonncha, C. (2005). The constraints on school provision of post-primary physical education in Ireland: Principals’ and teachers’ views and experiences. Irish Educational Studies, 24(1), 77-91. DOI: 10.1080/03323310500184541


BSc (Hons), MA, PhD