Undergraduate Course

BSc Sports and Exercise Science

BSc Sports and Exercise Science


The details
Sports and Exercise Science
October 2020
3 years
Colchester Campus

Are Olympic athletes born or made? Can exercise be bad for your health? What is the secret behind the world’s fastest sprinter? Studying sports and exercise science with a science based approach will help you to understand the physiology, biomechanics and psychology of sport, exercise and physical activity.

You study topics including:

  • How and why different energy systems are deployed at different exercise intensities
  • How the principles of mechanics determine the flight of a javelin
  • How mind and body interact to influence performance
  • How exercise can reduce the risk of getting cancer
  • How the body responds and adapts to exercise

Practical work in your first two years provides you with the professional and scientific skills you need to conduct your own research project in your final year, and to make the transition to postgraduate study or on to a fulfilling career in a range of industries, especially sport, health and education.

In short, sports and exercise science will give you a new and exciting perspective on the world of sport, exercise, health and physical fitness.

In August 2017, the course moved into our new School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences. This will not change the content of the course but provides an exciting opportunity to join a community specifically focused on sports and exercise science, sports therapy and physiotherapy. This will allow us to bring together our internationally recognised research, share knowledge, and enhance placement and vocational opportunities for our students and graduates. We are ranked top 10 in the UK for sports science (Guardian University Guide 2020).

Why we're great.
  • You gain in-depth knowledge by using our cutting-edge advanced research equipment.
  • You work with elite athletes and gain experience in our renowned Human Performance Unit.
  • We are ranked top 10 in the UK for sports science (Guardian University Guide 2020).
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation. This is usually focussed around your course, and enables you to learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways.

Organisations our students have recently been placed with include West Ham United Football Club, Colchester United Football Club, Colchester Rugby Club and Royal Hospital School.

If you cannot see this video, you can watch it on our Vimeo channel within your browser.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.

Our research covers a wide spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Dr Valerie Gladwell, who is researching green exercise and the autonomic nervous system in exercise bouts, Dr Paul Freeman, who works on social support in sports, and Dr Gavin Sandercock, who works on geographical and social interactions with exercise.

The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.

Specialist facilities

Our specialist facilities include our brand new £12 million Sports Centre, physiotherapy labs, six specialist sport & physiology labs, two dedicated sports therapy training labs, and an on-campus sports therapy clinic.

  • Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
  • Gain valuable experience working with elite athletes in our Human Performance Unit
  • State-of-the-art research facilities, from state of the art treadmills, to 7-camera biomechanics systems, to gas and blood analysis systems
  • Teaching facilities including new undergraduate laboratories

Your future

The sport, fitness, health and leisure sectors are booming and provide a variety of careers for sports and exercise science graduates.

Typical career destinations include healthcare, teaching, and the health and fitness industries or postgraduate study. Our courses develop your skills in numeracy, information technology, communication and time management, which are important to all employers.

Our recent graduates have taken up a wide range of roles, including:

  • Senior fitness instruction and personal training
  • Coaches and performance analysts for football clubs including Southend United, West Ham United, Dag and Redbridge, and Derby County, and for rugby clubs including Colchester RFC
  • Health and safety executive for HM Inspector of Health and Safety
  • Essex netball development officer for England Netball
  • Girls’ and women’s football development officer for a local council
  • Health improvement facilitator for a primary care trust

Other graduates now work in the fields of sports performance, sports management and sports development, health care, teaching, and the health and fitness industry. Many also undertake further postgraduate study.

We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

”From my first lecture I was made to feel welcome in the department. I particularly enjoyed my paid, work-based placement at the University’s applied Human Performance Unit where I was able to gain applied experience working with a variety of athletes under the supervision of experienced sports scientists."

Jay Collison, BSc Sports and Exercise Science, 2014

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

GCSE: Mathematics and a Science subject at grade C/4

A-levels: BBB, including B in one science subject or Mathematics (PE and Psychology count as science A-levels)

BTEC: DDD, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.

IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555, including Higher Level Science or Mathematics grade 5, or (if not taking HL Maths) Standard Level Mathematics/Maths Studies grade 4.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Standard Level Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

From 2021, we will accept grade 4 in either Higher Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Higher Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation or grade 5 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.

Access to HE Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits at Merit or above

Flexible offers
Eligible applicants that choose us as their firm choice by the relevant deadline will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements than those published here so, if your final grades aren’t what you had hoped for, you could still secure a place with us. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

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

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

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.


Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Professional Skills and Development 1

Ask difficult questions, and develop the skills needed to answer them. In this module, you learn how to critically analyse research literature to find gaps in scientific understanding, and gain the fundamental practical skills needed to create new knowledge.<br><br>Develop skills in research design, the application of key methods, the statistical analysis of data, and the interpretation and presentation of research findings. The practical skills that you will develop in this module, such as blood sampling, heart rate monitoring and psychological testing are also the professional competencies expected of Sports Scientists and acquiring them will begin to prepare you for a career in Sports Science support or in the field of exercise and health.

View Professional Skills and Development 1 on our Module Directory


Top athletes can move their bodies with astonishing speed and precision. But how? This module is concerned with the physical and mechanical principles that govern how our bodies move. You consider the effects of force, mass, speed, velocity, acceleration and momentum, and study how our bodies interact with other moving objects. You get hands-on right from the start, investigating theory through a number of laboratory-based practicals.

View Biomechanics on our Module Directory

Principles of Nutrition and Metabolism

Students will gain a basic knowledge of nutrition and metabolism underpinning Sports Science. On completion of the module, students will be able to describe the flow of nutrient intake and energy production supporting not only training and performance but optimal health. Intake of food, digestion, absorption, assimilation or metabolism of nutrients will all be explored, as well as sources of energy for different types of exercise and the cause of fatigue. This module will give students a firm foundation from which to study exercise physiology and the specific nutritional requirements of athletes including legal and illegal substances, in later modules.

View Principles of Nutrition and Metabolism on our Module Directory

Sport and Exercise Psychology

Is it all in the mind? The margin between victory and defeat is thin, but can an athlete’s psychology really give them an edge? You explore the potential application of Freudian Behavioural and existential psychology on a range of sport and exercise topics, focusing particularly on coaching and training. Investigate how psychology may be used to improve sports performance, and its role in sport with reference to the social forces of racism and sexism.

View Sport and Exercise Psychology on our Module Directory

Anatomy and Physiology

Explore the individual systems involved in maintaining our bodies’ internal environments – respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary and immune. Examine how each system’s organ structures inform function, how they work together as a whole, and the ways they maintain homeostasis under the stresses of exercise and disease.

View Anatomy and Physiology on our Module Directory

Introduction to Sports and Exercise Science

Understanding performance in sport requires knowledge of the basic scientific principles of chemistry, biology and physics, alongside a foundation of maths. You examine these principles in depth, developing your understanding of the human body at both cellular and gross level, and considering how it can be influenced by exercise training and how these changes can be assessed. You apply your theoretical knowledge to real sporting examples including training and fitness testing.

View Introduction to Sports and Exercise Science on our Module Directory

SRES Summer School

In the Sports Science summer school you apply some of the basic science and research skills that you acquired in lectures and practical classes during your first year to the identification and investigation of research questions relevant to performance in a variety of sports. You also have an opportunity to develop your group working and communications skills whilst indulging in the simple enjoyment of participating in novel sporting experiences. You’ll practise and extend your skills in processing, evaluating and analysing data, basic tools of a sports scientists trade. Youll also be provided with a structured opportunity to think about your future, about how the academic, sporting and social experiences of your University life are contributing to your development as an individual and what you need to do to fulfil your hopes and potential.

View SRES Summer School on our Module Directory

Professional Skills and Development 2

Your biggest competition to date: the graduate job market. This module gives you a crucial head-start, ensuring you can both practically apply and effectively communicate your skills to the real-world and future employers.<br><br>During the Sports Science summer school you will identify and consequently investigate a chosen research question, working as part of a team to process, evaluate and analyse data. You will also have chance to prepare for life beyond graduation, developing a written strategy for optimising your employability, updating your skills e-portfolio and CV, and examining the job application process in detail.

View Professional Skills and Development 2 on our Module Directory

Exercise Physiology

How do our bodies respond and adapt to exercise and training? You review the structure and function of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, assessing how they respond to physical strain, and how they contribute to the limitations of human performance. You also consider how the nervous and endocrine systems are affected as well as the overall influence of environmental temperature and altitude.

View Exercise Physiology on our Module Directory

Applied Biomechanics and Movement Analysis

To optimize performance in sports or rehabilitation, we first need to understand it. Biomechanics provide an interesting tool to do so. You start by exploring the most common and basic human movement: walking. You will learn about research on human gait and how we can use biomechanics to better understand human movement and enhance performance. In a practical, you will collect your own data and perform scientific experiments to understand and characterize the effect of footwear on performance, moving on to other cyclic movements, such as wheelchair exercise and mobility in the context of rehabilitation.<br><br>You also consider how biomechanics can help to prevent injuries in Paralympic wheelchair athletes, or improve mobility for persons in a wheelchair. Learn how to apply biomechanics in the multi-disciplinary context of sport sciences by modelling cyclic sports performance using an energy flow model.

View Applied Biomechanics and Movement Analysis on our Module Directory

Sport and Performance Psychology

Can mental strength really give an athlete the edge? Explore psychological phenomena such as emotion, mood and cognition and assess the impact it has on human performance. You also examine the difference between ability and skill, theories of motor development and strategies used to change behaviour.

View Sport and Performance Psychology on our Module Directory

Metabolism in Exercise

This module focuses on the provision of energy for muscular work and the regulation of biochemical processes that result in catabolism or anabolism depending on the overriding metabolic state (including famine, plenty, specific exercise intensities and durations, and recovery from exercise). In addition, students will examine how physiological variables mirror the metabolic states associated with different exercise intensity domains.

View Metabolism in Exercise on our Module Directory

Sports Injuries and Exercise Rehabilitation

What are the major causes of sports injuries, and what are the best methods for treatment and prevention? Identify the causes, signs and symptoms of sport-specific injuries. Discover the anatomical and physiology mechanisms that underlie injuries and discuss the mechanisms that allow recovery. You also gain practical skills, learning to design and evaluate an exercise rehabilitation plan – considering the various phases of exercise rehabilitation.

View Sports Injuries and Exercise Rehabilitation on our Module Directory

Health and Active Lifestyle

This module provides students with a broad introduction to some contemporary health and lifestyle issues. In the field of sports and exercise science it is essential to appreciate the importance of the roles that exercise, lifestyle and nutrition all play in determining the "health of the nation". Therefore, the issues that will be addressed include the relationship between exercise, health and disease as well as theories of unhealthy lifestyle behaviour changes. In addition there will be individual lectures directed at specific nutrition and health issues such as metabolic syndrome. The treatment and prevention of psychological health issues such as stress will be discussed, and new treatment concepts for mental health problems such as "green exercise" will be addressed.

View Health and Active Lifestyle on our Module Directory

Issues in Sport and Exercise Science

Examine contemporary issues in the science of sport and exercise, and their implications on the health and performance of individuals, groups, or society. You have the opportunity to examine selected issues in depth from a range of options, engage with cutting-edge research, develop informed opinions on the topics, and to present information in different formats.

View Issues in Sport and Exercise Science on our Module Directory

Research Project and Skills in Sports Science

Conduct an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree. Develop the skills required to identify a suitable question and then design an experimental approach to obtain data addressing this question. This module evaluates your analysis and presentation of these data in a suitable scientific paper format report, the research, understanding and critical writing about the scientific literature relating to your project. Your oral project presentation skills and response to questions, the planning and management of your project work, your progress reflection and your employability skills will also be part of the assessment.

View Research Project and Skills in Sports Science on our Module Directory

Applied and Environmental Sports Science

Investigate the effects of extreme conditions on the human body. You explore physiological responses to altitude and acceleration, spaceflight and microgravity, intense gaseous and marine pressures, extremes of hot and cold. You also gain understanding of the effects of starvation, dehydration and air pollution on human survival and performance.

View Applied and Environmental Sports Science on our Module Directory

Movement Analysis

In this module you will study human movement. You’ll look at a range of different techniques and instruments used to measure different motions in particular, walking, running and throwing across a range of subjects, from elite athletes to the disabled and learn how to analyse and interpret the results. You’ll also have the opportunity to operate video analysis equipment and use a force plate.

View Movement Analysis on our Module Directory

Applied Sports Psychology

This module will develop your skills to perform a thorough needs analysis of sports, individuals, and/or teams, investigate psychological strategies that are used to enhance performance, and examine how to develop interventions based on the current research literature. You will also explore the role of technology to enhance the delivery of sport psychology services. The module builds on Year 1 and 2 Sport and Performance Psychology modules and will focus on the application of scientific principles to enhance athletic performance.

View Applied Sports Psychology on our Module Directory

Physical Activity, Nutrition and Cardio-Metabolic Disease


On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Practical work in your first two years
  • Learn through a combination of lectures, laboratory sessions and coursework
  • Gain experience collating and interpreting data, and reporting findings clearly and concisely


  • Degrees are awarded on the results of your written examinations together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework
  • Contribute towards real-world research projects in your final year of study

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee


International fee


Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2020 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020
  • Saturday, June 20, 2020
  • Saturday, September 19, 2020


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you're invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don't panic, they're nothing to worry about and it's a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we'll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you're outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email applicantdays@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


Virtual tours

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


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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 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.

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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