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Sport & Exercise Psychology

Sport and Exercise Psychology


Study Sport and Exercise Psychology at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

This course is designed for students wishing to specialise within the discipline of sport and exercise psychology, in order to gain professional training in the provision of psychological support to clients, acquire vocationally related psychological skills, develop a critical thinking approach to the existing knowledge base and conduct research, all within 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 on the island of Ireland. The MSc will provide graduates with competencies in applying interventions professionally and ethically. As such, the programme will provide students with a thorough grounding in the theory, themes, issues and practical skills that are central to the knowledge base of sport and exercise psychology. The programme is organized around 3 main themes – (1) theory-practice (2) Individual content (3) stability-change – which permeate throughout each of the taught modules. These themes are embedded to serve as a heuristic tool to enable students to apply and underpin critical thinking in the field. This thematic approach also supports and reflects the critical philosophy that underpins the programme as a whole and is central to teaching, learning and assessment. Graduates should expect to possess professional skills in consulting, advanced research skills, relevant personal skills and a deep understanding of the high performance environment.


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: theorypractice; 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 gaining accreditation as a sport and exercise psychologist at Stage 1 with the BPS

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.

Entry requirements

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. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements

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.



Full time and Part-time

One day per week

PgDip - two semesters
MSc - One calendar year (three semesters)

PgDip - four semesters
MSc – three calendar years

Careers or further progression

Career options

Track I: Teaching/research in sport sciences and consulting;

Track II: teaching/research inpsychology and also consulting;

Track III: Clinical/Counseling services to various populations including athletes;

Track IV: Health promotion and working with clients but not necessarily athletes;

Track V: Further PhD research study.

Professional recognition

British Psychological Society (BPS) 

Accredited by the British Psychological Society, this makes up Stage One of the training in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Further enquiries

Faculty contact regarding admissions and application process:
June Edgeworth
T: +44 (0)28 9036 6098

Course Director:
Dr Gavin Breslin
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8478

Subjects taught


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.

Year one

Applied Sport Psychology and Contemporary Issues
This module provides students with a balance of academic theory, contemporary issues and applied practices in the field of sport psychology. Students are encouraged to integrate and translate theory and research into practice and to develop skills in applied sport psychology. It takes students beyond understanding what is done in sport psychology to understanding how any sport psychology service is delivered.

Motor Cognition
Through a series of lectures and tutor-led practical sessions, students will understand the theoretical and practical importance of motor learning and performance. Students will also develop experience delivering fundamental movement skills programmes.

Social Perspectives on Health, Sport and Exercise Psychology
This module is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of psychological factors relating to social processes in health and exercise and sport and lifespan and cross-cultural perspectives in sport, exercise and health psychology. Topics of interest include group processes, social cognition and coach-athlete relationships. It provides a critical understanding of the development of scientific consensus to date and identifies areas in need of further research.

Year two

Advanced Research Methods for Physical Activity, Sport and Action
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. ?

Physical Activity and Psychological Wellbeing
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.

Professional Practice and Ethics in Applied Sport Psychology
The module is designed to provide students with a range of professional skills important for their professional development. Central to these skills are a critical understanding of theory, the efficacy of interventions, and the ethical considerations in a specific context. The assessments enable them to engage in consulting roles and reflective practice.

Year three

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.

Assessment method

Teaching and learning 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.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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