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 as well as 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.

Additionally, the course is recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) to provide Level 2 Fitness Instructing (Gym-based exercise) and Level 3 Exercise Referral, which is the independent public register for qualified professionals and endorsed by PD:Approval. Membership of a body such as REPs is a requirement of the UKactive Code of Practice and assures employers that you have the appropriate skills to do the job. These qualifications are stepping stones towards developing a career as a Clinical Exercise Scientist/Physiologist. The programme provides an opportunity to gain REPs recognised specialist exercise instructor qualifications and to gain experience to work toward ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification.

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
  • Assistant physiotherapist
  • 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 a 60 credit Project. It is also possible to study parts of this course for CPD purposes, such as a single unit (30 credits) or top up a related Postgraduate Diploma to a 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. The MSc Clinical Exercise Project unit prepares you for your independent project, where you will plan and implement a service evaluation, research project or enterprise & innovation project in the area of clinical exercise.

Teaching takes place on Thursdays, Fridays and some Saturdays, so attendance on selected weekends is necessary for the vocational training included in 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.

The core unit you will study is:

  • MSc Clinical Exercise Project (60 credits)

Optional units to choose include 120 credits from:

  • Exercise for Cardiac Rehabilitation (30 credits)
  • Exercise for Chronic Respiratory Diseases (30 credits)
  • Exercise and 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
  • Applied essays
  • Case studies
  • Project report
  • Poster presentation

Student Destinations

We 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: £7,700 Part time: £3,850 p/a* *Fees are subject to annual increase
International students
Full time: £13,200 Part time: £6,600 p/a* *Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team
023 9284 5566