Taught course

Physical Activity, Exercise and Health

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. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

With current obesity and diabetes epidemics resulting from sedentary living, poor dietary habits and high stress lifestyles, the need for Clinical Exercise Specialists (CES) is now greater than ever before.

This innovative course is, therefore, designed to inform you in the clinical aspects of exercise, providing a qualification that will enable you to apply theory to practice.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Develop lab and field-based skills alongside the ability to communicate with clients in a professional and approachable style
  • Become proficient in diagnostic techniques and the delivery of effective physical activity programmes to optimise the health-related fitness of clients
  • Use specialist facilities and benefit from our strong links with the School of Health Sciences and the National Health Service

What opportunities might it lead to?

The programme will provide opportunities for you to work toward the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Clinical Exercise Specialist certification and units aligned to Level Four National Occupation Standards for Health and Fitness.

Some of our graduates have pursued the following careers:

  • Health and Well-Being Physiologist
  • Clinical Exercise Physiologist
  • Exercise Referral Coordinator
  • PhD Research

Module Details

You can choose to take this course in either full-time or part-time mode. Our course draws on the strengths and thriving research expertise in the faculty.

Here are the units you will study:

  • Applied Research Methods: This prepares you for your Research Project by covering research design, discussing different investigation strategies and identifying appropriate statistical analyses.
  • Clinical Physiology: This unit develops a critical understanding of the pathophysiology of chronic lifestyle diseases and the application and interpretation of diagnostic procedures for these diseases.
  • Exercise Rehabilitation: On this unit you will gain experience of working in clinical exercise settings, such as cardiac rehabilitation, to allow you to apply your knowledge in a professional environment, where you will develop skills in risk stratification and leading safe and effective physical activities.
  • Psychology of Exercise and Physical Activity: This unit covers the emerging field of psychology in physical activity and exercise settings. You will study topics relevant to understanding how psychological theory can influence the promotion and prescription of exercise and physical activity to optimise health and wellbeing.
  • Research Project: The unit will also guide you through the submission of a research proposal and the submission of research in the form of a manuscript. Your project will enable you to carry out a research study in the area of clinical exercise.

Programme Assessment

Your learning experience will be research-informed, and will be delivered by enthusiastic, dedicated and knowledgeable staff who will encourage and assist you to achieve your full potential. Teaching is largely based around seminar, practical and workshop sessions.

How are you assessed?

You will be assessed in a variety of ways with a focus on self-assessment and problem-based assignments. Here’s how we assess you:

  • practical assessment
  • research reports
  • applied essays
  • case studies
  • project report
  • poster presentation

Student Destinations

The demand for qualified clinical exercise specialists (CES) is high. The duties performed by a CES are linked closely to treating patients with a chronic disease in which exercise has been shown to provide therapeutic benefit. The knowledge and skills you will gain from this course will be valued in a wide range of clinical settings.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • GP exercise referral coordinator
  • NHS trainee clinical scientist
  • health advisor
  • cardiopulmonary exercise testing research technician
  • health and wellbeing physiologist
  • mental health exercise instructor
  • NHS physical activities adviser
  • private exercise physiologist

Fees and funding

UK students
Full time: £6,500 Part time: £3,250 p/a* *Tuition fee is 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