Sport and Exercise Sciences with Integrated Foundation Year BSc (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences course, with an integrated foundation year. Equip yourself with the skills and knowledge needed to work in the exciting sport and leisure sector. Specialise in coaching or deepen your knowledge of sport and exercise physiology, psychology, biomechanics, personal training, performance analysis, treatment of sports injuries.

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This is the broadest of our suite of sports courses.

You will gain practical experience in the fields of psychology, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and injury rehabilitation. You will combine these disciplines to analyse and develop strategies to optimise performance in sport and exercise, which will be supported by our excellent teaching team.

During the course you can choose modules in sport and exercise leadership which can result in accredited Gym Instructor, Personal Trainer and Exercise Referral awards at no additional cost, enhancing your employment prospects significantly.

Why us?

  • This course enables students to work with cutting-edge state-of-the-art resources to develop their knowledge and skills in applied areas of sport and exercise sciences
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience
  • We have great links to clubs in the local area, including Sunderland Association Football Club and Durham County Cricket Club
  • There is an option to apply to the Elite Athlete Bursary Scheme
  • Our Sports Science courses are in the top five in the UK for Spend per student according to the Guardian University league tables 2018
  • Our Sports Science courses were ranked 3rd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Sports Science courses were ranked 3rd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, 3rd in the UK for Retention and Progression, and 3rd in the UK for Employability in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey

Course structure

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.

Foundation year 

The Health Sciences and Wellbeing Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Maths (20 credits)
  • Foundation module (40 credits)
  • Project (20 credits)
  • Subject Specialism (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

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 and the psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence them

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):

Core modules

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 of injury and healing, including psychological aspects

- Focus on strategies to reduce the risk of injury during the 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):

Core modules

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 digitising 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 sports 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 maintain exercise behaviour with an individual

  • Our Biomechanics lab contains equipment that measures motion, muscle activity and forces on the body during high intensity sports and the activities of daily living.

    Facilities include:

    • 3D motion capture systems including Vicon® systems and Xsens® motion capture suits
    • Software such as Dartfish®, Kinovea® and LongoMatch® software 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
    Biomechanics equipment
  • 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
  • Facilities for monitoring and testing exercise physiology and psychology include:

    • 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
    Exercise physiology and psychology
  • 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.

    Fitness and Conditioning Suite
  • Across the Sunderland area you'll have access to the following sports facilities:

    • 50m Olympic size swimming pool
    • 95m artificial ski slope
    • Warehouse climbing wall
    • Football training pitches at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light
    • Marine Activities Centre for sailing, canoeing, kayaking and powerboating
    • LTA approved indoor tennis centre with 13 indoor and outdoor courts
    • Floodlit athletics tracks
    Sport facilities
  • 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.

    Sports medicine and anatomy
  • Map and directions


Sunderland's outstanding facilities include laboratories with the latest fitness equipment and technology.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

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

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

City Campus by night


Sunderland’s strong links with regional and national sporting organisations, local hospitals and 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 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 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).

PD: Approval qualifications

Sport and Exercise Sciences now has accreditation from PD: Approval, the national endorsement body for Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), to award vocational qualifications (related to the health and fitness industry) to students who successfully complete specific modules.

University level Main module mapped to

Vocational qualifications

4 Principles of Sport and Exercise Leadership Level 2 Gym Instructor
5 Personal Training Level 3 Personal Trainer
6 Physical Activity and Exercise for Special Populations Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

Career options

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.

During the course, you will be encouraged and supported to obtain National Governing Body Coaching Awards to support future development in the area. This will allow you to develop the skills required to become an effective coach across a range of activities.

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

  • Sports coach/instructor
  • Sports and exercise psychologist
  • Fitness centre manager
  • Teacher of PE

Meet the students

  • My course gives a fantastic insight into the ever-growing, ever-changing world of sports.
    Niall McArdle, Sport graduate

    Niall McArdle

  • Thanks to Sunderland, I'm now in the Premiership.
    Scott Ainsley, Sports graduate

    Scott Ainsley

Meet the team

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