Taught course

Clinical Exercise Science

University of Portsmouth · Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Entry requirements

A minimum of a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants are subject to interview. All offers are subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance and Occupational Health clearance. In addition, applicants are required to have completed or be in the process of acquiring an industry-approved exercise referral qualification, such as the University of Portsmouth's Exercise Referral Course, which can be provided prior to commencing the course. Professional experience and other qualifications may be taken into consideration for applicants not meeting this requirement.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

There are increasing rates of ill-health resulting from sedentary living, poor dietary habits and high stress lifestyles. The duties performed by a Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES) are linked closely to treating patients living with a long term condition in which exercise has been shown to provide therapeutic benefit. Specifically, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, diabetes, stroke, cancer and musculoskeletal limitations remain important health concerns that have all been shown to benefit from regular safe exercise.

Therefore, this innovative course is designed to offer you an interdisciplinary approach to exercise in clinical settings and vocational qualifications and experiences that will enable you to apply theory to practice. The integration of theory and practice within this course will enable you to critically analyse, adapt and modify existing approaches to develop safe and effective physical activity programmes to optimise the health-related fitness of clients.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Obtain lab-based and field skills, as well as the ability to communicate with clients in a professional and approachable style.
  • Gain Register of Exercise Professionals endorsed vocational qualifications in clinical exercise, including exercise referral, cardiac disease, chronic respiratory diseases, stroke, cancer and falls prevention which are essential requirements should you wish to pursue a career as a clinical specialist exercise instructor.
  • Work with clinicians providing exercise in the management of a range of long term conditions

What opportunities might it lead to?

The programme provides an opportunity to work toward ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification and units aligned to National Occupation Standards for Health and Fitness.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • Health and wellbeing physiologist
  • Bariatric exercise physiologist
  • NHS trainee clinical scientist
  • Health advisor
  • Clinical Exercise Physiologist
  • Exercise Referral Coordinator
  • Exercise Therapist
  • PhD Research

Module Details

The modular programme is offered in two formats: Full-time (12 months) and Part-time (24 months). The course includes 120 credits of taught units and it is also possible to study parts of this course for CPD purposes, such as a single credit-bearing unit (30 credits), a postgraduate certificate (PG Cert; 60 credits) or progress to the full MSc. The units contain vocational elements relevant for providing personalised exercise training for a range of medical conditions, including classroom, exercise laboratory and placement learning.

Teaching will take place on Thursdays, Fridays and some Saturdays so attendance on selected weekends is necessary for the vocational training associated with some of the units. Placements take place in areas such as Southampton, Winchester, Portsmouth and Chichester and are scheduled according to placement provider requirements during the week. Each unit is generally taught over a three week block, however cardiac rehabilitation requires a longer study period.

Options to choose include 120 credits from:

  • Exercise for Cardiac Rehabilitation (30 credits)
  • Exercise for Chronic Respiratory Diseases (30 credits)
  • Exercise for Cancer Care (30 credits)
  • Exercise and Fitness after Stroke (30 credits)
  • Exercise for Falls Prevention (30 credits)
  • Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine (30 credits)

Programme Assessment

The delivery format for the course is largely based around seminar, practical, workshop and placement learning to integrate theory into practical sessions. Teaching sessions will include vocational training, seminar and exercise laboratory work, led by leading practitioners in the area of clinical exercise. You will be provided with a personal tutor to assist with academic and pastoral issues.

The course has a problem-based learning approach and you will be assessed in a variety of ways with a focus on self-reflection and initiative and problem-based assignments. Here’s how we assess you:

  • Vocational training (MCQ and case study)
  • Practical assessment
  • Presentation
  • Applied essays
  • Case studies

Student Destinations

The Schools/Departments delivering the course have strong links with National Health Service partners in the Wessex region and professional training providers in exercise, such as the American College of Sports Medicine and the Register of Exercise Professionals. Graduates of this course possess qualifications to provide exercise in cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise after cancer, exercise after stroke or exercise for falls prevention provided by leading vocational clinical exercise training providers. Having such a skills-set is important for being employable as an exercise physiologist in diverse multi-disciplinary teams, whilst also presenting the opportunity to work as an exercise entrepreneur as your own exercise service manager.

Roles our graduates have taken on include

  • Exercise referral coordinator
  • NHS trainee clinical scientist
  • Health advisor
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise physiologist
  • Health and wellbeing physiologist
  • Bariatric exercise physiologist
  • NHS physical activities advisor
  • Private exercise physiologist

Fees and funding

UK students
Full time: £5,130 Part time: £2,570 p/a* * Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
International students
Full time: £8,800 Part time: £4,400 p/a* * Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team
023 9284 5566