Strength and conditioning coaches, in collaboration with athletic trainers, physiotherapists, nutritionists, sport scientists, and other allied professions, are now commonly part of a team which provides support services to athletes. As a profession, strength and conditioning has seen unheralded growth in the past 40 years, as evidenced by the development of several large non-profit professional bodies.
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The knowledge base that is utilized by strength and conditioning coaches is generally accepted to cut across several domains, such as anatomy, exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, and sport psychology. Through such observations, the knowledge for effective coaching can be identified and coaching shortcomings can be improved through well-rounded education programmes. This course has been developed to reflect the guidelines published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), regarding graduate level study. In addition, key stakeholders from industry have been consulted to help formulate a needs-led curriculum.
Many members of the teaching staff hold a PGCE, PGCHEP, PGCHET, PGCUT or other teaching qualification and are members of the Higher Education Academy. Several of the staff are engaged with the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute (SESRI). Teaching staff have considerable research and practical experience that informs their teaching. In addition, many staff are qualified members of professional bodies such as the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA).
Students may wish to complete the programme in part-time mode over 3 academic years, typically taking 30 credits per semester.
All students have to successfully complete the following 7 compulsory modules in for the award of MSc in Strength and Conditioning.
Teaching and Learning Methods include: lectures, problem based case studies, tutorials, seminars, online material, workshops, discussion groups, analysis of data, practical exercises, demonstrations, literature searching and observation.
The learning outcomes of the course will be assessed through a combination of essay, examination, case studies, reflective practice, group and individual presentations and extended research project. These assessment methods will measure students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject as well as their intellectual and transferable skills.
Teaching, learning and assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2022-2023.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2022-2023.
Belfast Campus Location
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
Optimising Exercise and Load: Effective monitoring and management
In order to optimise the performance of an athlete, it is essential to understand the key scientific and practical concepts of biomechanics, athlete monitoring and load considerations to prevent injuries, or optimise rehabilitation of an athlete's return to play. This module will advance the students' ability to observe and collect athlete data, analyse, interpret, act upon and communicate with the athlete and within, or across, multidisciplinary settings. This module draws upon the student's previous knowledge and skills to ensure a multifaceted approach to the development of professional practice in sports and exercise medicine.
Principles and Practice of Strength and Conditioning
This module will consider many contemporary issues within the ever evolving area of strength and conditioning. Students will get an opportunity to explore the evidence-base that can directly inform current practice. In addition, consideration will be be given to how practice based evidence that is developed, refined, and implemented first in a variety of real-world settings, can also be utilized.
Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
This module will provide an introduction to the biochemical principles of exercise metabolism and will highlight the importance of nutrition in enhancing athletic performance.
This module highlights some of the well documented concerns with the traditional approach to inferential statistics and provides the student with a more progressive alternative, namely: magnitude based inference (MBI). Students will get an opportunity to consider several applicable research designs within S&C and more importantly, will collect and analyse data in a manner that conducive to direct application within performance sport.
The module promotes that the strength and conditioning coach must complete a comprehensive needs analysis prior to designing a sport-specific programme. In addition, the training process can be considered a single-subject experiment that requires meticulous documentation and a flexible approach, that reflects the demands of modern sport.
Motor Cognition and Performance
Through a series of lectures and tutor-led practical sessions, students will be able to critically reflect on the theoretical and practical importance of motor learning and performance. Students will also develop experience delivering a movement skills programme.
Research Project in Sports and Performance
Carrying out an original, independent piece of research from the formulation of a research question through to reporting findings in accordance with the conventions of the academic area is an important part of the research training provided by Masters level study. This module provides students with an opportunity for students to carry out an original independent piece of research within the area of their own profession, or special interest in sports and performance, and present findings in the form of a journal manuscript and a conference presentation.
(i) a second class honours degree or better in sports science or cognate area from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or
(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and
(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent);
In exceptional circumstances, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b) and/or (c), where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Employment opportunities for aspiring strength and conditioning coaches thus exist in government-funded organizations such as schools, colleges, universities, national/state institutes of sport, and privately funded professional organizations and individual athletes.
Fees and funding
The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.
For modules commenced in the academic year 2023/24, the following fees apply:
NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.
Additional mandatory costs
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.