New year, New ACL for Sport and Exercise Sciences

After leading the BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences for the last 10 years, Dr John Parker is stepping aside to pursue new academic challenges at the University of Gloucestershire (don’t worry he will still be a key part of the SPX team and lead for Sport and Exercise Psychology). Dan Cowen has recently been appointed as the new Academic Course Leader. We caught up with him for five minutes to find out a little more about him and his vision for the role.

New ACL for BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences – Dan Cowen


Q – Although this is a new role for you, you aren’t new to the University of Gloucestershire. How long have you worked here at UoG?

A – Since 2012! 6 years!


Q – What did you do before you started here/what is your background?

A – In my previous life I worked in the fitness industry. I progressed from a Personal Trainer to a Health Club manager. Like lots of people in the fitness industry I’d always wanted my own facility and was  offered that opportunity, so for about a year I was a part owner of a gym.  To cut a long story short, this did not end well, with three business partners falling out over the direction of the business so I decided to leave. A big lesson learned! This led me into education where I taught Level 2 Gym Instructor courses and Level 3 Personal Trainer courses for Swindon College and Lifetime. I also spent some time teaching ICT and maths in a prison. This was a roller coaster of a job where I had hilarious, boring, dangerous and really sad experiences on a daily basis. Which in a strange way has been good preparation for life in Higher Education.


Q – What is your vision for the SPX course over the next 3 years?

A – To quote the prison governor I used to work for “my predecessor did a great job of building a solid house, all I have to do is give it a fresh coat of paint”. There is no need to do anything revolutionary to the course. We have a solid set of modules and an excellent teaching team to deliver them. A challenge we have faced is that sport and exercise science students have modules that are shared with other courses. This has the potential to lead to a lack of course identity if not well managed. I’d like to ensure the set of modules we have complement each other well and link together even more strongly to make a course. I think that’s something we can work on with just a few additions and tweaks to module content.

I hope to continue to develop and grow the enrichment opportunities such as gaining BASES accreditation and working with sports teams that already exist to put our students in the strongest position when entering the world at work.

I’d also really like to squeeze a field trip that lasts a few days into the diary. I think there’s opportunity to do some applied sport science out in the real world that would have great educational value but also be good fun.


Q – Why do you think students should want to study sport and exercise sciences at UoG?

A – The teaching team here is excellent. Our corridor is filled with experts and practitioners in their field who are conducting their own research while teaching the students. It sounds like a cliché to say we’re a supportive team, but a genuinely think you would be hard pushed to find a group of academics who are as knowledgeable, professional, engaging and who offer the level of support we do to our students.

I’d also say that over the last few years we have refined our suite of modules and I believe we have created a thoroughly robust and engaging course. We have clear pathways running through the course allowing students to explore and focus on chosen specialties while always receiving connect from the core disciplines of biomechanics, physiology and psychology.


Q – What are your interests/hobbies outside work?

A – Previously I’d tell you about a triathlon or marathon I’ve just done but at the moment I’m far too unfit! I’ll just say I’m a keen but very amateur cyclist and runner and do a bit CrossFit when I can get out of work in time. Does scratching my cats and mowing (perfectly straight lines into) my lawn count as a hobby?

Q – Tell us a random fact that we are unlikely to know about you?

A – I went on holiday to Lanzarote on my own this summer (permission granted from Mrs ACL) and did an Open Water Diver PADI course. It’s not that exciting! Sorry!


If you’d like to get in touch with Dan Cowen, Academic Course Leader for Sport and Exercise Sciences you can contact him at