Dr John William Devine
Sports Science
Telephone: (01792) 513311
Room: Academic Office - A115
First Floor
Engineering East
Bay Campus

John William is a member of A-STEM's Elite and Professional Sport group.

  • Called to the Bar of England and Wales - Middle Temple
  • D.Phil - University of Oxford
  • M.Phil - University of Cambridge
  • BA - University College Dublin

John William is Lecturer in Sports Ethics and Integrity at Swansea University. He obtained a BA in Philosophy and Politics at University College Dublin, an MPhil in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge (King’s College), and a DPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford (New College). He subsequently trained as a barrister and was called to the Bar of England and Wales by Middle Temple. Prior to arriving at Swansea University, he held positions in the philosophy departments at the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, and Trinity College Dublin.

His research concerns political philosophy and the philosophy of sport. Within political philosophy, his work centres on ethics in public office, especially ethical questions that arise for political leaders within liberal democracies. He argues for the necessity to good government of leaders who possess specific ‘political virtues’.

Within the philosophy of sport, he works especially on sports ethics. He is particularly interested in questions concerning the nature and value of sport and the challenges posed to both by different forms of ‘enhancement’. He is exploring ethical questions around enhancement in a monograph provisionally titled Ethics, Excellence, and Enhancement in Sport, which is due to be published by Routledge in late 2020. He holds that, crucial to the ethics of enhancement, is whether a given enhancement undermines or advances the overriding purpose of sport as the display of ‘sporting excellence’.

John William has extensive public engagement experience, and his work has been featured on BBC Radio 4 (‘The Moral Maze’), BBC World Service, Cycling Weekly,The Forum for Philosophy, The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner website, and the University of Oxford website (‘Oxford Debates’ series). He is an occasional contributor at The Conversation, and his articles on that platform can be viewed here.

John William is Vice-Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association and an Executive Council member of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport.

Areas of Expertise

  • Political Philosophy
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Applied Ethics
  • Philosophy of Sport (particularly Sports Ethics)


  1. Devine, J., Devine, J. Gender, Steroids, and Fairness in Sport Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 9
  2. Devine, J., Knight, C., Devine, J. Beyond ‘crude pragmatism’ in sports coaching: Insights from C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey: A commentary International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 12 1 35 37
  3. Devine, J., Frias, F. Philosophy of Sport Edward N. Zalta,(Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Stanford, CA Stanford University


  • SR-368 Sport Integrity, Ethics and Policy

    This module examines the role of ethics in assessing the rationality of practice, policy, and governance in sport. The module will help students to develop a deeper understanding of the ethical dimensions of practical decisionmaking in sport and the philosophical foundations that underlie these ethical debates. Students will come to appreciate the significance of ethics in various sporting contexts, and they will develop their understanding of what constitutes a rationally defensible ethical approach to sport.

  • SRE700 Ethical theory, sports ethics and integrity

    This module develops an advanced understanding of the need for ethical reasoning in decisionmaking about sport. It examines the role of philosophical concepts (e.g. autonomy, harm, and fairness), normative theories of sport (e.g. formalism, conventionalism, and broad internalism) and ethical theories (e.g. consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics) to rational decisionmaking in a sporting context. Consideration will be given to decisonmaking concerning practices, participation, and institutions within sport. Students will come to appreciate the often hidden role that ethical reasoning plays in critical argumentation about key personal and policy issues in sports and sport integrity, and the module will serve as an advanced introduction to the Philosophy of Sport literature.


  • A Conceptual Analysis of 'Sport Integrity' and a Case Study Upon the Duty of Care Owed to Elite Athletes by a Sports National Governing Body (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Prof Michael Mcnamee