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Sport and Exercise Sciences BSc (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This is the broadest of our suite of courses that equip you to work in sport and leisure. 95% of our Sport and Exercise Sciences graduates enter employment or further study within six months, according to the latest Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey published in 2015.

‌This course is accredited by The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. ‌

During the first year, we will introduce you to sport-related psychology, physiology, anatomy and biomechanics. You will also learn about coaching and exercise leadership and be helped by ‌staff to help develop your personal and professional skills. The first year is common with the Sports Coaching degree, allowing you to transfer between these programmes.

In the second and third years, you will deepen your knowledge in sport and exercise physiology, psychology, biomechanics, personal training, performance analysis, treatment of sports injuries, and gain valuable skills in research. In your third year, you will undertake a research project and choose between options that include sports nutrition, exercise for special populations and exercise behaviour change.

All modules include a mix of academic rigour and practical skills. Throughout your three years at Sunderland, you may choose modules in sport and exercise leadership which can result in Skills Active accredited Gym BASES The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences logo‌Instructor, Personal Trainer and Exercise Referral awards at no additional cost, enhancing your employment prospects significantly. To help you get the most from your studies we have invested heavily in laboratories with the latest equipment and technology and 90% of students rated our learning resources highly in 2015, according to the National Student Survey (NSS).

Our teaching team is passionate about the subject. 94% of our sports science students think that staff are good at explaining things, according to the NSS in 2015.

When you graduate, potential employers include professional sports clubs, recreation facilities, health and fitness clubs, local authorities, schools and colleges, and the health sector, including the NHS.

See what our staff and students think about Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Year 1 (national level 4)

Principles of Sport and Exercise Physiology (20 Credits)

Take an introductory look at the fundamentals of human physiology with applications to acute exercise. Cover the structure and function of each of the systems in the body and the regulation of responses to exercise. 

Principles of Sport and Exercise Psychology (20 Credits)

Gain an understanding of psychology and motor behaviour within a sport and exercise setting. Demonstrate knowledge of psychological concepts and explain their relevance in health-related physical activity/exercise and performance enhancement. 

Principles of Sport and Exercise Biomechanics (20 Credits)

Get an introduction to the way in which the fundamental laws of mechanics can be applied to understand and evaluate human movement through observation and measurement.

Principles of Sport and Exercise Anatomy (20 Credits)

Gain theoretical and practical knowledge of the anatomy of the human body. Identify individual structures using anatomical models, images and other media, and then compare them to real human subjects through palpation techniques.

Principles of Sport and Exercise Leadership (20 Credits)

Cover issues that impact upon leading, coaching, instructing coaching and exercise related sessions. Investigate the roles of the coach and instructor, qualities and requirements of the effective coach and instructor, psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence.

Personal and Professional Development (20 Credits)

Develop key study and employability skills essential for academic and professional success. Increase your awareness and understanding of the processes involved in learning and professional development.

Year 2 (national level 5)

Sport and Exercise Physiology 1 (20 Credits)

Develop your knowledge of exercise physiology and its application to training in exercise and sports. Examine both the acute and chronic effects of exercise on the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems in both normal and abnormal environments. 

Sport and Exercise Biomechanics 1 (20 Credits)

Gain an understanding of the mechanics of rigid bodies and fluid mechanics contextualised into the realm of sport and physical exercise. Investigate some of the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems of the human body at rest and in motion in terms of injury, rehabilitation, and physical performance, using the biomechanical concepts.

Sport and Exercise Psychology 1 (20 Credits)

Use the theoretical models of motivation to look at the determinants and correlates of adoption and maintenance of regular physical activity and of successful performance in sport.

Research Methods in Sport and Exercise (20 Credits)

Study the research process and learn how to construct an investigation from an initial idea to the point of completing and presenting the study. Learn quantitative and qualitative research design and analysis, and apply the most appropriate research.

Performance Analysis (20 Credits)

Take an introductory look at the analysis of human performance from an interdisciplinary approach using the three core disciplines in sport and exercise sciences – physiology, psychology, and biomechanics.


Optional Modules (Choose one):

Injuries and Rehabilitation (20 Credits)

Look at the prevention of injury and ill health, and the mechanisms behind injury and healing, including psychological aspects. Focus on strategies to reduce the risk of injury during performance of sport and physical activity, and take an introductory look at sports massage, providing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Personal Training (20 Credits)

Learn how to collect, interpret and analyse client information using validated methods appropriate for the health and fitness industry and in-line with current Sector Skills Council guidelines. Take advantage of the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to real-life and case study situations. 

Final Year (national level 6)

Dissertation 1 or Dissertation 2 (20 Credits or 40 Credits)

Carry out a small-scale piece of research on a sport and/or exercise-related area. Analyse or review an existing data set or subject area using appropriate techniques and interpret the outcomes.

Sport and Exercise Biomechanics 2 (20 Credits)

Explore the methods used in the biomechanical assessment of sporting performance through technique observation and analysis. Carry out kinetic and kinematic analysis of human movement using modern instrumentation, involving electromyography, 3D motion capture, video digitizing and analysis, use of force platforms and foot pressure measurements.

Intervention Strategies (20 Credits)

Focus on analysis of human performance from an interdisciplinary approach using the three core disciplines in sport and exercise sciences. Working in a group, develop a notational analysis system to assess performance within a relevant setting.


Optional modules (Choose two or three):

Sport and Exercise Physiology 2 (20 Credits)

Look at how the body performs and responds to exercise. Get an introduction to advanced and applied issues in sport and exercise physiology. 

Sport and Exercise Psychology 2 (20 Credits)

Examine the relationship between mental health and states (including anxiety, mood and self-esteem) and physical activity (including sport performance and exercise participation).

Nutrition for Sport and Exercise (20 Credits)

Focus on nutrition in sports and exercise, underpinned with an understanding of metabolism. Consider the role of nutrition and physical activity in terms of health and nutritional supplements in relation to performance in sport and exercise.

Physical Activity and Exercise for Special Populations (20 Credits)

Look at exercise and activity management skills in relation to specific populations and exercise referral individuals. Review the current research relating to physical activity and exercise management for certain population groups.

Exercise Behaviour Change (20 Credits)

Consider psychological issues in physical activity promotion and intervention within a multi-level framework. Evaluate communication and behaviour change strategies selected to manage, support adoption and maintenance of exercise behaviour with an individual.



Teaching and assessment

Our teaching methods are designed to develop not only your knowledge but also skills that enhance employability. Methods include small group work, practical activities, workshops, lectures, tutorials, computer-based learning, presentations and independent learning.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also on-going assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include essays, reports, practical work and presentations.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

We have invested in the latest software and equipment so that you have maximum scope to measure and improve performance. Our facilities will propel your learning in sport and exercise sciences. 

Biomechanics equipment

Our equipment can measure motion, muscle activity and forces on the body during high-intensity sports and the activities of daily living. Equipment and techniques include the following:

  • 3D motion capture systems including Vicon® systems and Xsens® motion capture suits
  • Software such as 2D Dartfish®, Kinovea® and LongoMatch® to capture live action images for match tagging and coaching feedback
  • Movement tracking tools such as Actigraph® and Catapult®
  • Delsys® Trigno electromyography equipment to see how the muscles of the body are working
  • Kistler® force platforms and Batak® reaction walls to analyse sporting performance
  • Novel® Pedar systems to analyse foot pressure

Exercise Physiology and Psychology

Our laboratories include the most up-to-date equipment for assessing human performance. You’ll get practical hands-on experience with the following:

  • Polar® Team2 heart rate monitoring system for assessing the heart rates of a full squad of team players in real time
  • Cortex® gas analysers to evaluate cardiovascular performance
  • Biochemical analysers from Randox®, Jenway® and Gonotec® to measure substances and enzymes within the body
  • Tendo®, Myotest® and Globus® equipment to profile your strength and power and develop specific training programmes
  • Fusion Sport® SMARTSPEED light gates for assessing speed, agility and reaction times
  • Assess and enhance cognitive performance using our Neurotracker® 3D multiple object tracking equipment

Sports Medicine and Anatomy

Anatomy is taught by experienced staff in a specialist clinical lab using skeletons, anatomical models, 3D software, online material and human subjects. You will learn techniques for sports injury rehabilitation, including the use of sports massage and ultrasound equipment.

You will also examine balance and stability using our Biodex® stability and balance trainer and assess strength imbalances using our sophisticated Biodex® dynamometer and new BTE Primus® rehabilitation equipment. You can investigate how new techniques such as thermal imaging are being used in injury assessment with Flir® IR cameras.

Fitness and Conditioning Suite

In our lab, you'll find fitness and conditioning equipment that would be the envy of most modern gyms. From a wide range of cardiovascular equipment to machine and Olympic weights, you will receive hands-on teaching in a professional environment.

University Library Services 

The University library has thousands of relevant books, e-books and journal articles, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We subscribe to useful resources such as SPORTDiscus, which provides journal articles, book chapters and summaries about sport, fitness and related disciplines.

Sciences Complex

This course is based in the Sciences Complex at our City Campus, which has benefited from multi-million pound investments. The IT facilities are excellent and, across the University, there are hundreds of workstations as well as wireless internet access. If you have any computer problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

Sports facilities

Students at Sunderland have easy access to some of the best facilities in the region. These include:

  • 50m Olympic size swimming pool
  • 95m artificial ski slope
  • Climbing wall with some of the best route setters in the UK 
  • Football training pitches at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light
  • Marine Activities Centre for sailing, canoeing, kayaking and powerboating
  • LTA indoor tennis centre with 13 indoor and outdoor courts
  • Floodlit athletics tracks


Our City Campus features a state-of-the-art facility called CitySpace. It features:

  • Sports hall (suitable for hosting large-scale events)
  • Fitness suite/gym
  • Strength and conditioning room
  • Injury prevention and support suite
  • Fitness classes
  • Climbing wall


Darwin Building

Sciences Complex, City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 112 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

The annual fee is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK
  • £10,750 if you are from outside the UK

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

Sunderland’s strong links with regional and national sporting organisations, local hospitals, local authorities, and health and fitness centres, helps you get to know potential future employers. You will also gain first-hand experience of how Sport and Exercise Sciences can be applied in real-life working environments. There is a major focus on career planning for both employment and further study at all stages in the Sport and Exercise Science course. You will not only be able to apply your knowledge, understanding and practical expertise in a wide range of relevant situations, but you will also build up a variety of transferable skills over the duration of the Programme. Employers strongly value team work, effective communication, good time management, problem solving skills and we’ve designed this Programme to help you develop these attributes. Specifically, you will be prepared for supervised experience, the initial stage in the process towards becoming a professionally recognised Sport and Exercise Scientist accredited through the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).

Potential employers for graduates of this course include national sports associations, sports and leisure companies, recreation services, local authorities, health bodies including the NHS, schools and colleges.

Job roles include the following (some require further training):

  • Sports coach/instructor
  • Performance analyst
  • Sports therapist
  • Sports and exercise scientist
  • Fitness centre manager
  • Teacher of PE
  • Lecturer

You could also progress to further study and a career in research.

Skills Active Qualifications

The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences now has accreditation from Skills Active, The Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, to award vocational qualifications (related to the health and fitness industry) to students who successfully complete specific academic modules. The qualifications listed below and can be accessed as part of the course at no additional cost:

Industry qualifications mapped to University modules: 

University level 

Main module mapped to Vocational qualification


SSP155 Principles of Sport and Exercise Leadership

Level 2 Gym



SSP255 Personal Training

Level 3 Personal Trainer

SSP355 Physical Activity and Exercise for Special Populations

Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn)

You have the opportunity to join the volunteer scheme through the University of Sunderland Sport Career Academy (SCA) to gain valuable work experience, education and training. Through this voluntary scheme you have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and in return will be rewarded with opportunities to gain coaching qualifications and many other training opportunities. There is a wide variety of opportunities available and have previously included working with elite sporting organisations, in the education sector, the voluntary sector and in the media. There are also scholarships and paid internships available which are awarded on a competitive basis.

Our Careers & Employability Service (CES) advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study.

CES also advertises details of paid part-time and vacation work in areas from call centre and retail work through to telesales and marketing and promotion and more.

Opportunities to work with companies on flexible, paid, part-time projects in areas such as IT, design, law, media, HR and event management, to name a few, are available too. These projects are a great chance to gain valuable work experience.

Laura talks about her experience studying at the University of Sunderland:


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars. If you have individual queries or difficulties within subject areas, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance. 

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"The ethos at the heart of Sports Science courses is to create a pathway to quality employment."

Morc Coulson

Morc Coulson - Academic

Senior Lecturer

“The ethos at the heart of the sports science courses at Sunderland is to create a pathway to quality employment for students.

"In order to do this, we have worked closely with employers to ensure our graduates leave with the qualifications and experience that the industry is looking for.

"Thanks to millions of pounds worth of recent investment, we have some of the best sports science facilities in the country, attracting students from around the world.

"We value ourselves highly as a team in preparing students for the employer route and jobs market, delivering much more than a degree qualification to students.

"All of our teaching staff have worked in the sports sector before moving into lecturing which we believe gives us an edge in really giving our students the inside knowledge they will need in the workplace.

"Our students go on to achieve great things. Sunderland graduate Michael Oliver has just become the youngest referee in the English Premier League, while former student Graham Guthrie has gone on to oversee food in schools at Sunderland City Council."

"Thanks to Sunderland, I'm now in the Premiership."

Scott Ainsley

Scott Ainsley - Graduate

Sports Scientist, Sunderland Football Club

"Thanks to Sunderland, I'm now in the Premiership.

"The expert teaching and industry contacts at Sunderland helped me go from a first class university into a job with a Premiership football club.

"I use the knowledge I picked up at university every day in my job at the football club helping top players reach peak fitness and helping them recover from injury.

"The facilities at the football club are top class but so were the facilities at the University so I was able to make an easy transition."

"My programme gives a fantastic insight into the world of sports and exercise science."

Niall McArdle

Niall McArdle


"I came to Sunderland aged 16 when I signed a three-year professional contract with Sunderland Football Club. Unfortunately, my contract did not get renewed.

"I was always realistic and knew the likelihood of having a long, successful career in football was slim, so going to university was my plan B.

"I'm now studying BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences, and the University of Sunderland really is a great university.

"My programme gives a fantastic insight into the ever-growing, ever-changing world of sports and exercise science, and there is a good balance between lecture and lab time."

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

The details

Course Name Sport and Exercise Sciences
Classification BSc (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

112 points

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