How can athletes optimise their training and performance? How can individuals and communities improve their physical activity, health and well-being? Our inter-disciplinary team of scientists and practitioners will help you understand the role of physiology, psychology, biomechanics and nutrition in sports and exercise science.
Our BSc Sports and Exercise Science course will give you a new and exciting perspective on the world of sport, exercise, health and physical fitness.
Your study topics include:
How and why different energy systems are deployed at different exercise intensities
Biomechanical principles behind acute and chronic sporting injuries, and how these can be applied to prevent injuries
The role of ergogenic aids in improving athletic performance
How physical activity and nutrition can reduce the risk of cardio-metabolic disease
The design and implementation of psychological skills training programmes
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.
As part of our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (SRES) you’ll have an exciting opportunity to join a community specifically focused on sports and exercise science, sports therapy and physiotherapy. We bring together research, share knowledge, and enhance placement and vocational opportunities for our students and graduates.
93% of our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022).
We are 12th in the UK for Sports Science in The Guardian University Guide 2023.
We are ranked in the top 25 for Sports Science in the Times Good University Guide 2023, and 23rd in the UK for research power in sport and exercise sciences (Times Higher Education research power measure, REF 2021).
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.
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 complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
We offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. We are 23rd in UK for research power in sport and exercise sciences (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021) - 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 recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.
Our specialist facilities include the Sport Arena, physiotherapy labs, six specialist sport and 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
The Human Performance Unit (HPU) has been used by professional athletes and sports persons from a range of disciplines, including Team GB athletes participating in the London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and players from our local Colchester United Football Club.
The HPU supports student teaching and research across all degree types. Our undergraduates in sports therapy, sports performance and coaching, and sports and exercise science use the HPU for some of their modules, with both beginners and professional sports persons recruited to take part. This gives students experience in managing the practical physiological tests, as well helping them develop soft skills such as communication and teamwork.
Additionally the HPU supports a range of placement activities. Our Masters students can take a 12-week placement, while undergraduates have the option to use the HPU during our optional Placement Year. Along with continuing the work with individual athletes, students who have a placement year as part of their course also assist with sports science workshops held at the HPU for local schools. These workshops are tailored to the National Curriculum for PE, and give our students experience of working with teachers and young people.
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.
UK entry requirements
GCSE: Mathematics and a Science subject at grade C/4
A-levels: ABB, 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: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655. Either must include Higher Level Science or Mathematics grade 5, or (if not taking HL Maths) Standard Level Mathematics grade 4. We will accept either IB Maths syllabus at Standard Level or Higher Level.
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.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma:15 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
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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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 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.
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. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, 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.
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:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
The aim of this module is to develop your academic, scientific and professional abilities relevant to the study of and professions related to sport, rehabilitation and exercise sciences. There are four key focuses of this module: professional skills; research design and ethics; data analysis, presentation and interpretation; and employability.
Understanding performance in sport requires knowledge of the basic scientific principles of chemistry, biology and physics, alongside a foundation of maths. This module will help develop understanding of the human body at both cellular and gross level. Students will consider performance can be influenced by exercise training and how these changes can be assessed. As this is a broad based module, we will also explore population health, basic nutrition and recovery. Students will apply theoretical knowledge to real sporting examples including training and fitness testing.
This module will help you to understand the physical and mechanical principles that determine how we, and the objects with which we interact during exercise and in sporting events, move. You will learn the meaning of concepts such as force, mass, speed, velocity, acceleration, momentum and we will explore how they enable us to describe and understand movement in sport and exercise.
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? Why do some people find exercise difficult and other find exercise essential? Understanding how involvement in sport, exercise and physical activity affects a person's health and wellbeing is important in creating better interventions. The aim of this module is to introduce you to the fundamental principles underpinning the psychology of sport and exercise.
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. 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.
This module will provide you with knowledge on the fundamental concepts of human anatomy and physiology which underpins the biological sciences. You will gain knowledge of the mechanisms associated with the control and regulation of the major systems of the body. The content will give you a foundation for more advanced study of Exercise Physiology or Applied Biomedicine.
Furthermore, this module 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.
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.
How do our bodies respond and adapt to an exercise bout and prolonged training? You will review the structure and function of the muscular, 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 adapt and help to control the responses to acute exercise and training.
Optimal performance in sports and health requires two things: the ability to optimize performance without compromising injury risk. This module will provide you with a very practical toolbox towards designing the appropriate exercise programs for your clients. This module will cover topics ranging from the biomechanical basis of optimizing core stability for health and performance, neuromuscular adaptations to pain and injuries, neuromuscular basis for exercise selection, overuse and acute injury mechanisms, to understanding the mechanical limits of athletic behaviours.
In a practical, you will collect your own data and perform scientific experiments to understand and characterise the effect of footwear in the context of injury prevention. Lessons will be a mixture of lectures and hands-on session, where students get taught on how to instruct the optimal performance of different exercises to ensure maximum benefit to health and function.
This module will build upon your knowledge and skills to understand, appraise and plan research in sport and exercise. You will develop your understanding of different methodologies, research designs, and data analytical techniques, including their strengths, limitations and applications.
You will develop your skills in using library and online resources for scientific research, and your ability to critically appraise published work and how it can be used to inform applied practice in sport and exercise. You will also gain practical experience in participating in research, planning your own study, and analysing and interpreting data. Overall, the module will equip you with knowledge and skills required for your final year research project.
In this module you will conduct an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree specialisation. You will either use the skills you have developed to identify a suitable research question and design an experimental approach to obtain data addressing this question, or use your research skills to better understand an existing project/ dataset. This module evaluates your analysis, presentation, understanding and interpretation of these data in a suitable scientific paper format report along with your critical writing skills. Your oral presentation skills and response to questions, the planning and management of your project work and your employability skills will also be part of the assessment.
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.
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.
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
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
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.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.