Postgraduate Course

MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology

MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology


The details
Sport and Exercise Psychology
October 2020
1 year
Colchester Campus

How can psychology help to shape the perception of exercise? And can psychology help athletes deal with the psychological consequences of an injury, or build cohesion within a sporting team? Psychology has the ability to enhance adherence to exercise programmes, influence individuals to fulfil their sporting potential, and often plays a key role in ensuring sporting success.

Offering a unique educational experience by overlapping psychology within the broader discipline of sport and exercise science, this MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology is dedicated to one of the fastest developing areas of psychology. It will provide an insight into working across a range of contexts in sport and exercise, and students will focus on practical and ethical considerations whilst developing essential knowledge and skills for research and applied practice in this specialised field. There will also be opportunities to gain practical experience using equipment for both research and in applied contexts, with an emphasis placed on the importance of testing in the field.

You study a variety of topics including:

  • Motor control and cognitive psychology
  • Psychological skills and strategies
  • Developmental issues in sport and exercise
  • Social psychology and individual differences
  • Professional practice in sport and exercise psychology

This course sits within our new School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences. This provides an exciting opportunity to join a community specifically focused on sport and exercise, allowing us to bring together our internationally recognised research, share knowledge and enhance opportunities for our students. Students will be based in the brand new state-of-the-art sports centre, benefitting from a range of facilities and dedicated laboratories for research.

Sport and Exercise Science at Essex is ranked in the top 15 in the UK according to Times Good University Guide (2018).

Why we're great.
  • Students can stay within the school to pursue BPS Stage 2 training, which will enable you to use the title ‘Sport and Exercise Psychologist’, or to complete a PhD.
  • Students will be part of a community specifically focused on sport and exercise, bringing together our internationally recognised research, sharing knowledge and enhancing opportunities for our students.
  • We are ranked top 10 in the UK for sports science (Guardian University Guide 2020).
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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, including:

Professor Ian Maynard is a Chartered Psychologist with the BPS, and a fellow of the BPS, British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and Association for Applied Sport Psychology. He has provided sport psychology support at numerous Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and World Championships across eight sports, and has worked with Royal Yacht Association, British Swimming, England Golf, and the Amateur Boxing Association. His research interests focus on applied aspects of Sport and Exercise Psychology and he has over 120 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr Murray Griffin is a Chartered Psychologist with the BPS, and a founding member of the BPS Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology. He has provided sport psychology support to numerous Olympic and Paralympic athletes, professional athletes in various sports, and endurance sports competitors such as transatlantic rowers and ultra-distance runners. He has worked as a consultant on various health service and public health projects, including smoking cessation, obesity and mental health. His research interests focus on promoting physical activity and mental well-being, with particular expertise in the role of exer-gaming as a therapeutic intervention.

Specialist facilities

  • Based in our brand-new Sports Centre with dedicated research laboratories
  • Sports performance camera system including fixed and mobile cameras for indoor and outdoor use with live streaming and multi-camera capture capabilities, video analysis and coding software, and global positioning equipment capable of tracking player movement, collisions and intensity.
  • Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
  • Conduct your research alongside academic and PhD students in shared labs
  • Gain valuable experience working with elite athletes in our Human Performance Unit

Your future

The sports science, fitness, health and leisure sectors are booming and provide a variety of careers for sports and exercise psychology postgraduates. An MSc will give you the edge in an increasingly competitive job market.

Careers in sport and exercise psychology include counselling, psychologist for athletes and teams, exercise psychologist working with the public, developing exercise programmes and more. Students may also want to stay within the school to pursue BPS Stage 2 training, which will enable you to use the title ‘Sport and Exercise Psychologist’, or to complete a PhD.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in a relevant Sport and/or Exercise and/or Psychology subject

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.

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English language requirements

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


Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years.

Physical Activity and Wellbeing

The module explores contemporary topics in health psychology and focuses on the link between research evidence and the application of Health Psychology to sport and exercise. You will gain an understanding of up-to-date research evidence across a number of topics including the relationship between exercise and esteem, using exercise as an intervention to ameliorate psychological illness, and the impact of end-of-career on the well-being of an individual.

View Physical Activity and Wellbeing on our Module Directory

Developmental Issues in Sport and Exercise

In this module, students will compare physiological responses to exercise of children and adolescents, with those of adults, examining the effects of age, sex and maturation. Students will examine the role that physical activity and fitness can play in improving markers of health and wellbeing in young people; an increasingly important area of study due to recent evidence (from work at the University of Essex showing declines in children's fitness). This module will explain the immediate and possible future benefits of physical activity and exercise for the health and wellbeing of healthy children and young athletes.

View Developmental Issues in Sport and Exercise 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

Research Project

Students have a choice of choosing between a research project and a 8 - 12 week work based placement for the duration of the summer term. A research project will be an independent original research study or report, supervised by an academic staff member. A work based placement will vary according to the research needs of the placement provider. Projects could be used to generate creative solutions to work based issues, providing an opportunity to create new ways of thinking about certain areas of work or professional practice.

View Research Project on our Module Directory

Professional practice in sport and exercise psychology


Alongside traditional lectures, this course will utilise a range of teaching approaches including:

  • Student-led seminars focused on critical discussions of key and topical research paper
  • Flipped classroom approaches
  • Laboratory sessions
  • Practical sessions to equip students with the skills to undertake research and applied consultancy at individual, group, community or population levels


  • All students will complete a Research Project which will require a Psychology-focused research question and students will be supervised by a staff member with relevant expertise.
  • On taught modules, students will complete a range of assessments including conducting needs assessment sessions, writing reports for clients, developing psychological resources, oral presentations, essays, and written exams.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee


International fee


Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

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.

2019 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, October 26, 2019
  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020


You can apply for a postgraduate course online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Colchester Campus

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Occasionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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