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The physiological, behavioural, social, cultural and nutritional perspectives of health enhancing physical activity for the general population.


Study Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

It is becoming increasingly recognised that physical activity and exercise have a positive influence on health and wellbeing and that the promotion of active and healthy lifestyles in the community has substantial social and economic benefits. This course has been designed in collaboration with the Schools of Sport, Nursing, Psychology and Sociology to produce highly educated professionals with the knowledge and skills to organise and provide for the policy, planning, development, management and delivery of physical activity and health initiatives.

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About this course

In this section


The serious public health problems associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are well publicised. Physical inactivity is a contributory factor to 17 chronic disease conditions and the World Health Organisation (WHO) figures have shown that a lack of regular activity results in 3.2 million deaths worldwide, making it the fourth leading cause of global mortality.

Regular physical activity and exercise result in a number of well-established physical, psychological and social health benefits. Despite this, physical activity levels in Northern Ireland and Great Britain remain low with less than 40% of the population currently meeting government guidelines with particular population groups undertaking dangerously low levels of daily physical activity.

This new course aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of both the science underpinning, and methods that are employed, to promote health enhancing physical activity and exercise. You will undertake study in the physiological, behavioural, social, cultural and nutritional perspectives that impact upon Physical Activity, Exercise and Health at individual and societal levels. Upon graduation, you will possess a wide range of knowledge and skills that will enable you to work as a professional bringing about an increase in peoples physical activity whilst reducing their sedentary behaviour.

The course offers small group teaching, hands-on experience in our dedicated Exercise Laboratory and a one-year work placement with the opportunity to obtain a Diploma in Professional Practice.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Find out more about placement awards


You should be available to attend lectures, seminars and practical classes as timetabled, during weekdays.

The course runs over three years (four years with optional placement).

120 credit points per year – 60 credits in Semester I and 60 credits in Semester II.

Start dates

  • September 2016
How to apply


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.

In this section

Year one

Anatomy and Health-Related Physiology

Year: 1

This module provides students with a basic knowledge and understanding of human anatomy and physiology which will form the foundations for further study on the effects of exercise and physical activity on humans. It will be offered through a combination of web based learning, traditional lectures and tutorials. Assessment is by a combination of coursework and examination.

Health and Wellbeing in Modern Society

Year: 1

This module is for students undertaking the BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Exercise and Health. It examines relevant topics to maintain a quality approach to current areas of health concern. This module will challenge the students to explore the concepts of health and wellbeing and the wider societal influences. It provides a springboard for discussion and reflection of current challenges associated with issues of wellbeing, health and physical activity. This module augments the study undertaken in other modules, in particular Introduction to Psychology and Psychosocial Aspects of Health and Wellbeing. This trio of modules will facilitate the synchronization of knowledge gained by the comprehension of health related issues. Assessment is by Coursework and Examination.

Sport and Society

Year: 1

This module allows students to develop a social scientific imagination when analysing the relationship between sport and society. It enables students to apply social scientific skills to the real world of sport and to evaluate the role of sport from a detached and evidence-driven perspective.

Principles of Teaching and Coaching

Year: 1

This module will introduce students to the best practice principles of teaching and coaching in relevant contexts. It will involve the examination of basic theory into basic coaching/teaching practice

Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology

Year: 1

Through a series of lectures and tutor-led seminar sessions, students will understand the theoretical and practical importance of sport and exercise psychology to enhancing performance.

Introduction to Exercise and Physical Activity

Year: 1

This module provides students with a basic knowledge and understanding on the importance of exercise and physical activity in disease prevention as well as an awareness of how to prescribe, monitor and interpret appropriate interventions.

Year two

Introduction to Health Promotion

Year: 2

This module provides students with an introduction to the discipline of health promotion and an understanding of its role as the core concept of new public health in today?s society. Students will learn to critically evaluate health promotion strategies, and identify the factors that affect them. It aims to equip students with the knowledge needed to assess needs, and skills to engage in effective health promoting activity in a variety of settings. Assessment is by coursework.

Public Health: Individuals and Communities

Year: 2

This module will provide students with the necessary evidence-based knowledge and skills to critically assess the health needs of individuals and communities within a public health context. It will also enable students to explore ways of measuring and improving health from both community and individual perspectives and gain an understanding of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to public health at local and national level.

Psychological Perspectives on Exercise and Physical Activity

Year: 2

This module examines the role of psychological factors in understanding the link between exercise, physical activity and health across different settings and populations. It provides a critical understanding of the application of behavioural procedures to intervention and change in exercise and physical activity.

Research Methods

Year: 2

This module is designed to introduce both the practical and conceptual understanding of research methodologies within sport, exercise and leisure research.

Clinical Exercise Physiology

Year: 2

This module will provide an overview to an exciting new area of exercise science, and will provide the student with an opportunity to further develop an understanding of the pathophysiology of the human body during conditions of exercise stress.

Principles of Exercise Physiology

Year: 2

The module provides students with a foundation of anatomy and physiology that is relevant to higher level study within physiology and other related interdisciplinary subjects within sport and exercise science. In addition, the module seeks to establish basic measurement, evaluation and writing skills that are pertinent to discipline.

Sport and Physical Activity: Theory to Practice

Year: 2

This work-based learning module is designed to facilitate opportunities for students to plan, deliver and evaluate a physical activity programme. It will require that the students reflect on their experience on a weekly basis through a reflective journal and design their own physical activity intervention

Year three

Diploma in Professional Practice (International) (DPP/DPPI)

Year: 3

This module is optional

During the 3rd year, students gain up to 48 weeks (minimum of 130 days) structured work experience in primary/secondary level education, the fitness and leisure industry, in agencies concerned with sport and health, or in relevant research institutions. This placement experience is designed to provide an insight into the world of work, to consolidate knowledge and skills acquired during the first two years and to promote the development or transferable skills.

Year four

Epidemiology for Public Health

Year: 4

This module will develop the capacity and capability of students to use demographic statistics, and epidemiological data and analysis to improve the health of the public. Through the assessment framework students will be enabled to apply their learning to specific chronic diseases for which physical inactivity is a known risk factor

Physical Activity, Exercise and Health

Year: 4

Society is faced with an inexorable rise in chronic disease development, often linked to lifestyle factors such as poor diet and physical inactivity. This module equips students with a critical understanding of the role of exercise in the prevention of such diseases, by exploring the underlying physiological mechanisms, and the importance of health promotion in target populations.

Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being

Year: 4

This module examines the influence of psychological factors in understanding the link between physical activity and public health across different settings and populations. It provides a critical understanding of the development of scientific consensus to date and identifies areas in need of further research.

Research Project: Physical Activity, Exercise and Health

Year: 4

This module will provide knowledge, practical opportunities and research skills in the undertaking of an independent piece of research in physical activity exercise and health.

Living with Long term Health Conditions

Year: 4

This module is optional

This level 6 module is an optional module for students undertaking BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Exercise and Health. The aim is to assist them in recognising the needs of people with long term illness to enable them to live fulfilling lives from diagnosis to end of life across all parts of service delivery. The module will challenge the student to explore strategies to facilitate participation in physical activity and exercise among those individuals
with a long-term health condition.

Sport & Exercise Psychology

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module provides students with a grounding in the theoretical constructs underlying contemporary issues in the domain of sport and exercise psychology. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate competing theoretical accounts of psychological phenomenon. They also gain an understanding of the measurement of different concepts and constructs.

Nutrition for Health and Disease Prevention

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module considers the relationship between nutrition, health and disease. The module provides the student with the opportunity to further develop an understanding of the human body and how good nutritional practices can be effective for good health and disease prevention.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is 280-300 UCAS tariff points to include Grades BB and a science A Level in at least one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physical Education, Psychology, Sports Studies or Double Award Applied Science.


The BTEC requirement for this course is 280-300 UCAS tariff points based on an overall BTEC award profile DMM-DDM to include Unit profile points 8-9 distinctions. Specific BTECs required for entry include science or sports related areas.

Irish Leaving Certificate

The Irish Leaving Certificate requirement for this course is 280-300 UCAS tariff points based on an overall Irish Leaving Certificate profile BBBCC – BBBBB at higher level to include at least one from Chemistry, Physics or Biology.

Applicants are also required to have Higher Level English and Maths Grade D or above OR Ordinary Level English and Maths Grade C or above.

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is 280-300 UCAS tariff points based on AAAA - AABCC.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is 280-300 UCAS tariff points based on BBC-BBB.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 25 points (12 at higher level) - 26 points (13 at higher level) to include a science subject at grade 4 or above.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall Access profile 65-69% - 70-71% to include one module from: Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Psychology, Sports Studies or approved science module.


GCSE Profile to include Grade C or above in English, Mathematics and a Science. Please note that for purposes of entry to this course the Level 2 Essential/Key Skill in Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Mathematics.

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.

Additional Entry Requirements

Satisfactory Access NI checks will be required.

In addition to the qualifications listed above, we accept a range of alternative qualifications for example HND, HNC, Foundation Degree.

Applicants may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of the different qualifications to the same standard as defined by UCAS (provided subject requirements as noted above are met). Examples of acceptable combinations include:

2 A Levels and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma

OCR National Diploma and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma

2 A Levels and Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma

A Level and BTEC National Diploma

For further information regarding combination offer requirements, please contact Faculty Office staff on T: +44 (0) 28 7167 5027 or E:

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

The course has been developed in response to industry needs and professional bodies have had considerable input into its content and delivery. The main objective would be working to bring about an increase in people’s physical activity, reduce their sedentary behaviour and thus working towards improving health status. The course will also help to develop a wide range of knowledge and transferable skills that will enable you to work as a professional in your chosen career and is particularly unique in that there are a range of modules from four different schools (School of Sport, Psychology, Nursing and Sociology).

Career opportunities can be in a wide variety of areas, such as: health and exercise promotion, physical activity initiatives, workplace health and fitness, exercise referral, health-based intervention design and delivery, postgraduate research, community projects, cardiac rehabilitation and teaching. On completion of the course, it will be possible to pursue accreditation with the British Psychological Society or further study within the University or elsewhere.


Applications to full-time undergraduate degrees at Ulster are made through UCAS.

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2016

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Northern Ireland & EU:
England, Scotland & Wales:

Additional mandatory costs

Access NI criminal record check: £33 (2015 cost)

Students are required to purchase 2 items (t-shirt and zip top) from suppliers, Under Armour. The cost for 2015 entry students totalled £45.90.

If students wish, the full kit can be purchased. The cost for 2015 was £168.75.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

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 wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.


For course entry/admission enquiries please contact the Faculty Office:

T: +44 (0) 28 7167 5027


For enquiries relating to course content please contact the Course Director:

Dr Ben Fitzpatrick

T: +44 (0) 28 7167 5832