Providing a recognised level of training for aspiring professionals in the field of sport and exercise psychology
This course is designed for students wishing to specialise in the discipline of sport and exercise psychology, to gain professional training, acquire vocationally related psychological skills, develop acritical thinking approach and conduct research, in a science practice model. This MSc was developed in the context of the increasing professionalisation of sport and exercise psychology, the accreditation criteria for the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the need for a university level course in Ireland. The MSc will provide graduates competencies in applying interventions professionally and ethically. The programme will provide students a grounding in the theory, themes, issues and practical skills central to the knowledge base of sport and exercise psychology. The 3 main themes– 1. theory-practice 2. Individual content 3. stability-change –permeate throughout each of the taught modules. The themes are embedded to serve as a heuristic tool to enable students to apply and underpin critical thinking. This thematic approach supports and reflects the critical philosophy that underpins the programme and is central to teaching, learning and assessment. Graduates should possess professional skills in consulting, advanced research, relevant personal skills and an understanding of the high performance environment.
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The overarching aim of the programme is to provide a recognised level of training for aspiring professionals in the field of sport and exercise psychology by providing them with the competencies required to apply psychology professionally and ethically in sport and exercise settings. The programme has three themes at its core which influence the pedagogical outcomes throughout the modules: theory practice; stability-change and individual-context.
Both the overall objective and the themes are achieved through the goals outlined below:
1. To provide students with a sound understanding of key theoretical issues in the field of sport and exercise psychology.
2. To enable students to develop an in-depth understanding of the application of theory to sport and exercise settings.
3. To provide the opportunity for students to gain practical skills that will enhance their ability to work with individuals and groups in the sport and exercise context.
4. To provide students with the skills to plan, implement and evaluate work in an applied setting.
5. To enable students to develop a range of practical competencies pertinent to completion of Stage 1 with the BPS. In order to gain accreditation as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist, completion of an approved HCPC stage 2 qualification and registration with the HCPC is required.
6. To help students to develop the skills necessary to design, conduct, analyse and report empirical research in the field of sport and exercise psychology.
7. To facilitate students in acquiring employment and entrepreneurial skills that would enable them to commercialise their skills and intellectual property.
8. To facilitate the development of critical and self-reflective awareness of the ethical concerns and implications of applying psychology in sport and exercise settings.
Full time and Part-time
Delivery will be block taught across 2/3 day intensive teaching sessions.
Full-time PgDip - two semesters MSc - One calendar year (three semesters)
Part-time PgDip - four semesters MSc – three calendar years
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The course will aim to deliver a range of learning experiences that will enable students to develop their knowledge and skills (at Level 7) and support the development of Graduate Qualities. The primary aim is to encourage students to become active and motivated learners, to question and critically analyse subject material and make specific reference to the role of psychology in addressing change in both the high performance environment and in the public health domain. Successful students will be able to achieve this prime aim in the first instance by employing scientific theories, concepts and empirical knowledge. To further help fulfil this aim, the course team encourages critical thinking, creative and strategic skills in students.This is directly in line with two of the University’s strategic teaching and learning aims, these being to promote and foster creativity and innovation in curriculum design and delivery, and to promote learning, professionalism and employability through the integration of academic theory and relevant professional and vocational experience. Creativity is defined here in its broadest sense to include critically informed approaches to existing issues in sport and exercise psychology, as well as innovative ways of delivering and evaluating physical activity and exercise interventions to help improve health outcomes. Thus, it has direct relevance for the development and enhancement of professional and practical skills. The breadth and relevance of the curriculum, the resources available to students, the flexible options for attendance coupled with the variety in teaching, learning and assessment methods are anchored in the University’s strategic teaching and learning aims, particularly in seeking to enhance the overall student learning experience and seeking to target, recruit and retain a diverse range of students.
Teaching, learning and assessment takes a wide variety of forms, and in order to achieve this, approaches will vary across modules depending on the prescribed requirements. All students have on-line access to a programme handbook, as well as a distinct Course Support Area on BB Learn, made available at the start of the academic year. This details the organisation of teaching and learning, it describes the programme-wide arrangements for submission and return of assessment as well as specific information regarding the expectations that the programme team will have of each student. Individual module learning will also be supported by the provision of module handbooks including the module descriptor, module content, assessment information and any other material considered relevant for teaching and learning.
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.
This module examines the influence of sport and physical activity on mental health of the general population and those involved in sport. It provides a critical understanding of the development of scientific consensus to date and identifies areas in need of further research for the promotion of positive mental health in sport.
Applied Sport Psychology and Contemporary Issues
This module provides students with a critical overview of the contemporary topics in applied sport psychology. Students will be encouraged to translate theory into practice and to develop a critical knowledge base to be able to plan, develop and evaluate how appropriate sport psychology interventions should be delivered.
Social Perspectives on Health, Sport and Exercise Psychology
This module examines sport, exercise and health psychology at an individual, group and cultural level. Theory and research on the effects of social processes on an individual are explored. The key issues include gender, morality, relationships, transitions from high level sport and the role of cultural issues in the applied sport psychology context.
Group Dynamics and Organisational Psychology in Sport and Exercise
This module examines group and team dynamics, and group and organisational processes within sport teams and their broader organisational context. The module provides an overview of organisational factors such as leadership amongst managers, coaches, and athletes within sport teams and sport organisations.
Research Methods for Sports and Performance
This module is designed to enhance the knowledge and competencies of students to prepare them to undertake research in Physical Activity and Public Health; Psychology and Sports Nutrition. It focuses on the application of advanced elements in experimental design, conducting quantitative analysis, research synthesis and the presentation of data and findings. It equips students to review, conduct and commission research.
Professional Practice and Ethics in Applied Sport Psychology
The module is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of the consulting relationship; ethical considerations in professional practice; the impact of different stakeholders on practice; the role of reflection and reflective practice; and the importance of counselling skills. Various activities and module assessment, enables students to experience first-hand the challenge of applying theory to practice and engaging in reflective practice.
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 in the area of sport and exercise psychology and present findings in the form of a journal manuscript and a conference presentation.
Applicants for the British Psychological Society Accredited (BPS) MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology must (i) have gained a second class honours degree or better in psychology or sports science a related discipline from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, 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 or (iii) demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL); and meet the IELTS requirements for English language competence: minimum IELTS score of 6.0.
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.
Accredited by the British Psychological Society, this makes up Stage One of the training in Sport and Exercise Psychology. In order to gain the eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC, to practise and use the protected title of Sport and Exercise Psychologist, an approved HCPC Stage Two programme needs to be completed.
Fees and funding
Our postgraduate fees are subject to annual increase and are currently under review.
The course is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and meets the standards of completion of Stage 1 with the BPS. In order to gain accreditation as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist, completion of an approved HCPC stage 2 qualification and registration with the HCPC is required.
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.
Previous student views of the course:
Laura Harrison (Teacher)
"Having completed all the modules for the Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Ulster University, Jordanstown, I can now offer a honest reflection. I have found the course to be rewarding, informative, challenging and above all beneficial to my current role as teacher, coach and aspiring sport psychologist. Does it make me want to undergo three years of a BASES accreditation? Yes! I particularly enjoyed the Applied module, and I found our class group interacted well and shared some honest discussions. The Motor Cognition module was useful for my coaching, and made me re-examine aspects of my own ideas on coaching/practise design and how people learn. The lecturers have always had an open door policy, and were available through skype, e-mail or one-to one meetings. The workload was certainly challenging, but this is expected at Masters level. Overall, I would recommend this course and I feel I have developed cognitively as an individual, with a much better depth of knowledge in theories and the hands on elements of sports psychology."
Anne Marie Kennedy (Sports Yoga Ireland)
"Once I heard that the Masters sport & exercise psychology programme in Jordanstown had been accredited I rang Gavin Breslin almost immediately to enquire. As my undergrad degree is Psychology it was important to me that my MSc be accredited. I had no hesitation in enrolling as Ulster University had a great reputation.
The programme hasn't disappointed. I have enjoyed every single moment of it. The course covers a wide range of areas in sport and exercise and we have been given a very specific grounding in psychological theory to underpin our future applied work. The quality and knowledge of the lecturing staff is inspiring. They are committed and dedicated to teaching us in a very supporting environment. The assignments have been varied from academic essays, group work, practical presentations and workshops. The learning achieved from these methods has been huge.
I have no doubt that this MSc programme will only go from strength to strength with such an amazing team of people driving it. I feel very privileged to be learning from such experts and I hope that these relationships will continue to be a support to me as my career progresses."