Postgraduate Course

MSc Sport and Exercise Science

MSc Sport and Exercise Science


The details
Sport and Exercise Science
October 2024
1 year
Colchester Campus

Train in the practical and theoretical elements of sport and exercise science. Explore the broad spectrum of areas that underpin health; sport and exercise. With our state-of-the-art facilities and science-based approach, you gain a solid understanding of the biology, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and psychology of sport.

You study a wide variety of topics including:

  • The analysis of movement
  • Physiological regulation and adaptation to exercise
  • Contemporary issues in sports nutrition
  • Sport psychology and applied techniques

Our course allows you to gain practical hands-on experience in our specialist laboratory facilities, as well as learning the theoretical approaches. Our seminar-based teaching gives students a platform to participate in small group discussions and share expertise and knowledge.

This course is also available part time.

Specialise in sports nutrition

Focus your learning and research on sports nutrition by choosing three brand new optional modules. By doing this you will receive a sports nutrition qualifier on your degree transcript when you graduate – MSc Sport and Exercise Science (Sports Nutrition). This qualifier allows you to demonstrate to future employers that you have directed your studies towards sports nutrition and have a wealth of knowledge in this ever-growing area of sport and exercise science.

You will cover a broad range of topics from biochemistry and physiology to sports nutrition and dietary analysis, ensuring a well-rounded education. You will engage with practical case studies as well as theoretical learning, which will enhance your understanding and prepare you for real-world challenges. Both the course content and professional practice elements are designed to be relevant in both national and international contexts.

To take the sports nutrition qualifier, you will start the MSc Sport and Exercise Science course with all other students, but you’ll pick three specialist sports nutrition modules in your first week. You therefore do not need to apply for a different course.

Integrated within the sports nutrition modules includes complimentary opportunities to complete the UK Anti-doping (UKAD) ‘Introduction to Clean Sport’ course. The course is endorsed by the Chartered Institute for Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMPSA). Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to complete the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (IR(ME)R) certification (1-day course), a prerequisite qualification to operate ionising radiation medical devices such as a DEXA.

Sport scholarships

Our Performance Sport Scholarship programme has been created for talented athletes playing at regional, national or international level, and offers a range of benefits. We want students competing in our focus sports (basketball, volleyball, tennis and football), as well as other team sports and individual athletes, to contribute to our performance sport programme. Our scholarships can include fee discounts of up to 100%, offered to athletes who demonstrate sporting excellence. Athletes who are awarded the scholarship may also receive a host of other benefits, including free kit, access to state-of-the-art facilities, performance coaching, the option to live in our Athlete Village (accommodation fees may vary) and a support package valued up to £1,500. These benefits are designed to help athletes focus on their training, and development, and to enable them to reach their full potential alongside their studies.

Why we're great.
  • Gain in-depth knowledge by using our cutting-edge advanced research equipment.
  • Align your degree with your interests in sport and exercise science, or gain more specialist knowledge in sports nutrition.
  • Have the opportunity to undertake a final dissertation research project in an area of your interest, supervised by experts in their field.

Our expert staff

We offer a lively, friendly and supportive close-knit environment with research-led study and high-quality teaching. As part of our vibrant sports science community you learn from and work alongside internationally recognised academic researchers.

Key academic staff for this course includes:

  • Dr Catherine Kerr conducts research on cardio-metabolic health, focusing on the impact of physical activity and nutrition in managing obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Dr Chris McManus is Director of the Human Performance Unit and specialises in sports nutrition and exercise physiology.
  • Dr Matthew Taylor is a leading expert in a wide variety of research interests from Exergaming to Ageing and Gait analysis.
  • Professor Gavin Sandercock explores geographical and social interactions with exercise.
  • Dr Patrick Schoenmakers is focused on the physiological demands of different forms of exercise, including high-intensity interval training.
  • Dr Ina Shaw is a leading expert in non-communicable disease prevention through physical activity.
  • Dr Luke Olsson primarily investigates the effects of perfectionism and burnout in sports settings.

Specialist facilities

  • Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
  • Conduct your final-year research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
  • Gain valuable experience working with our Human Performance Unit
  • Take advantage of our new teaching facilities and laboratories as well as dedicated research facilities
  • Use our state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment for practical learning and research, while benefitting from additional certification to operate a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) machine

Your future

The sports science, fitness, health and leisure sectors are booming and provide a variety of careers for sports and exercise science graduates. Typical career destinations include sports performance, sports management and sports development, health care, teaching, the health and fitness industry and academic research.

We have great industry links and work closely with the University's Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Specialise in sports nutrition

You will be encouraged to take the Certification of the International Society for Sports Nutrition (CISSN) exam towards the end of the course and, if completed successfully, will receive the title of Certified Sports Nutritionist. This course qualifier is also designed to align with some of the core competencies required to become a Registered Associate Nutritionist (Association for Nutrition) and Graduate Registration with the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr).

The focus on research methods and a significant research project will prepare you for evidence-based practice. The course will equip you with the skills and knowledge for various career paths in sports nutrition, sports and exercise science, research, and consultancy. We’ll also connect you with professionals, as well as potential employers in the field of sports nutrition.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in subjects relevant to the following areas:

  • Sports
  • Exercise
  • Psychology
  • Human Biology

Your degree must include one of the following modules:

  • Human Biology or a related subject, such as anatomy, kinesiology or genetics
  • Psychology
  • Sport or reference to sport

We will also consider applicants with a 2:2 degree in any discipline with substantive work experience in sport, exercise, or health.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 in all components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Research Project

The research project module is an opportunity for you to carry out an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree specialisation. It will help develop your skills in reviewing synthesising and critically appraising academic literature. You will also be expected to design, analyse and interpret data and present findings in a scientific paper format.

View Research Project on our Module Directory


Further Research Methods in Sport, Exercise and Health

This module will focus on the fundamental assumptions underlying quantitative research, including; research design methods, sampling, and the validity and reliability of measurements in exercise science. Students will master the techniques needed to critically appraise published research and carry out a piece of original research.

View Further Research Methods in Sport, Exercise and Health on our Module Directory


Biomechanics of Locomotion

Human movement, in particular walking gait is studied in some detail. Particular focus will be on what is 'normal' gait and from there the focus will shift to clinical populations and how gait is altered. The methods with which gait is analysed, from observational gait analysis to three-dimensional motion analysis, will also be explored with emphasis on interpreting the data and understanding how the data was obtained.   

View Biomechanics of Locomotion on our Module Directory


Physical Activity and Wellbeing

This module explores contemporary topics in exercise and health psychology, focusing on translational research evidence. Physical activity and exercise are increasingly used to improve the health and wellbeing of the general population. You will gain an understanding of up-to-date research evidence on topics including motivation, self-concept, mental health, social support and the environment. You will explore how research is translated into applied interventions and how these interventions are evaluated.

View Physical Activity and Wellbeing on our Module Directory


Applied Physiology

This module explores the medical and physiological challenges associated with human adaptation to and tolerance of extreme environments. Students will engage with historical and contemporary research in the field, with the aim of proposing novel solutions to problems in survival physiology, working at altitude and extended duration space flight.

View Applied Physiology on our Module Directory


Applied techniques in sport and exercise psychology

Provide a comprehensive understanding of the appropriate application of psychological knowledge to the measurement and assessment of human performance and develop applied skills necessary to service the needs of the athlete or coach and professionals in exercise settings.

View Applied techniques in sport and exercise psychology on our Module Directory






  • Lectures and seminars
  • Small group laboratory sessions
  • Practical skills sessions
  • Postgraduate Taught students in the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences typically attend two-hour workshops, or a one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar for each module each week


  • Our modules are assessed by a combination of exams, essays, verbal/visual presentations and written reviews

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 15 June 2024 - June Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

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Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

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Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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