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Postgraduate Courses 2017/18

Sports Science for Optimal Performance - MSc



The programme enhances your specialist knowledge and understanding of the scientific principles underpinning optimal performance in sport and exercise.

It develops your understanding of current theory, research and debates in sports science and gives you the opportunity to conduct an in-depth study in your chosen areas of interest.

It provides opportunities for you to develop professional skills, including monitoring, analysing, evaluating and prescribing interventions, and application to client issues, for the optimisation of performance in a sport or exercise context.

The programme is designed to develop the professional and academic skills of graduate sport scientists. Health and sport professionals who want to take modules on a stand-alone basis for continuing professional development are welcome to contact us.

Think Kent video series

Professor Louis Passfield, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Kent, and lead scientist with the highly successful British Cycling team that prepared for the Barcelona, Atlanta and Beijing Olympic Games, discusses his research in endurance performance and the training of elite cyclists.

About the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is one of the most exciting and innovative sports schools in the UK.

The School is based on the University’s award-winning Medway campus and has well-equipped, state-of the-art sports science laboratories, sports therapy clinic, sports rehabilitation gymnasium and respiratory clinic.

The University of Kent has recently benefited from the development of Medway Park, an £11 million project to create a regional centre of sporting excellence that was an approved pre-Olympic training camp venue for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Medway Park has hosted a number of major sporting events, such as the Modern Pentathlon World Cup and European Championships.

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences offers both taught and research postgraduate courses in Sport and Exercise Science and Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences was ranked 18th in the UK for research intensity.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.

Course structure

This is a one-year taught programme with attendance typically required on Mondays and Tuesdays with additional self-study. If studied on a part-time basis, the programme usually takes two years. 


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you. Modules SS806, SS802, SS803 an SS821 are compulsory. All other modules listed are optional.

SS802 - Assessment and Training for Optimal Performance (20 credits)

A synopsis of topics included in this module are:

• Physiological needs assessment.

• Measurement and interpretation of body composition.

• Measurement and interpretation of resting blood and lung function.

• Measurement and interpretation of aerobic power/capacity and blood lactate.

• Measurement and interpretation of anaerobic power/capacity.

• Scientific Periodisation of training.

• Physiological adaptations to training.

• Methods for improving aerobic power.

• Methods for improving strength and power.

Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).

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SS806 - Dissertation (60 credits)

The research projects are conducted with the supervision of an appropriate subject supervisor who will advise the student on issues such as methodology, analysis and presentation whilst the student takes responsibility for organising, conducting, analysing and presenting the research as required. The proposal for the study will have been approved as part of the research methods module.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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SS821 - Contemporary Perspectives in Sport Research (20 credits)

This module critically examines key contemporary issues within sport and exercise science. It will address current topics and research evidence from a range of different sub-disciplines of sport and exercise science. Students will be expected to draw on the knowledge they have developed at UG level to debate contemporary issues in sport and exercise science. Students will be expected to demonstrate an awareness of the changing face of ‘knowledge’ in the exercise sciences, and will be introduced to the more controversial and less mainstream theories that challenge the existing dogma. The module content will therefore consist of key contemporary issues (at the time the module is delivered), from the main sport and exercise sub-disciplines.

Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).

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SS807 - Psychology for Injury and Rehabilitation (20 credits)

A synopsis of topics included in this module are:

Introduction – what does psychology have to do with injury

Psychological responses to sports injury

Stress and the Injured Athlete

Social factors associated with the injured athlete – reaction by others

Motivation for rehabilitation programs

Attribution Theory – how it might explain differences in the behaviour of injured athletes

Applied psychological interventions for the injured athlete

Imagery – how this works with injured athletes

The Value of Counselling Skills when working with Injured Athletes

Case study of an injured athlete – applied example

Returning to full performance after injury

Career transitions after injury

Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).

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SS809 - Sport and Exercise Nutrition for the High Performance Athlete (20 credits)

A synopsis of topics included in this module are:

• Exercise metabolism

• Developing a personal hydration plan

• Pre, during and post competition nutrition

• Nutritional requirements for different athletes

• Methods of dietary analysis and research

Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).

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SS820 - Applied Athlete Support (20 credits)

This module aims to provide students with the supervision and extra underpinning knowledge to provide scientific athlete support to a client. The majority of student time will be taken up with one-to-one consultancy time with a client and analysing and providing feedback on their testing data. Some lecture and laboratory time will be used to ensure key principles are covered, but students will be expected to generate a case study of the consultancy package they have provided.

Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is typically by coursework and the final dissertation research project.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with a foundation of scientific and evidence-based knowledge, essential for building a good sport scientist
  • enhance your understanding of the scientific principles underpinning preparation for, participation in, and recovery from sport and exercise
  • provide you with an interdisciplinary approach to the study of sport science
  • develop a systematic and critical understanding of the current theory, debates and research in sport science
  • give you the opportunity to undertake an in-depth enquiry in selected areas of interest
  • enhance your employability and career preparation by developing a range of both subject specific and key transferable skills.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • how to critically appraise techniques applicable to your own research or practice in sport science
  • methods of data collection in a research area and the critical analysis of previously published work in the area
  • how to recognise and manage any ethical issues in your work
  • the skills and competencies required to work in the field of sport science, including a practical understanding of, and competence in, the use of established methods and techniques to analyse, monitor and optimise performance
  • how to critically evaluate and synthesise theory and research in the field of sport science.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to recognise and critically analyse existing methodologies employed in sport science
  • the ability to demonstrate autonomy and originality in tackling and solving research and practical problems within sport science
  • the ability to develop the ability to make informed decisions in complex and unpredictable situations with varying degrees of information
  • the ability to critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate evidence from a variety of sources and apply it to various contexts
  • the ability to use research methodologies to collect data that can be evaluated, interpreted, integrated and disseminated into relevant formats.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • how to apply your theoretical knowledge of sport science to the investigation of performance and strategies to optimise performance
  • how to apply experimental, practical and analytical skills to sport science
  • how to produce critical scientific reports, training programmes and case studies in an appropriate format
  • how to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the sub-disciplines of sport science within the context of the programme.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • how to prepare and communicate information on complex contemporary issues in sport science to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • how to demonstrate IT skills, including the ability to search for, and critically evaluate, internet-based resources
  • how to be an independent and autonomous learner (using the library, note-taking, revision, time-constrained techniques, reading efficiently, problem-solving, action planning, self-motivation and time management)
  • how to demonstrate collaborative skills
  • how to develop a self-reflective element in your learning and evaluation.


Our programmes have been developed and designed to provide students with the required knowledge and skills to work autonomously in the field of sport science and sports therapy. The programmes provide opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate both specialist academic and transferable skills such as good communication, problem solving, critical analysis and the ability to work independently to a high standard. The programmes also aim to give you the opportunity to build long-term careers within your chosen field.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has recently invested heavily in its equipment and other resources, and has world-class sports therapy and sport science facilities. Campus facilities include a state-of-the-art sports science laboratories. There is a wide range of equipment, including motorised and non-motorised treadmills, cycle ergometers, an isokinetic dynamometer, and blood and gas analysis equipment. In addition, at Medway Park, the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has its own cutting-edge sports science laboratories and a respiratory clinic.

There is also a hypoxic environmental chamber, and analytical chemistry, respiratory testing and psychobiology laboratories. These specialist rooms have been set up with over £700,000 of new equipment, including an anti-gravity treadmill, a 3D video analysis system, 2D force pedals, ultra-sound imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy and a gait analysis system.

The School operates a commercial respiratory clinic, sports performance services and sports injury and rehabilitation clinic from Medway Park to support elite athletes, regional squads and local residents. As a postgraduate student, you have the opportunity to develop your professional skills as you work with clients under staff supervision.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in leading scientific journals. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; American Journal of Sports Medicine; Journal of Applied Physiology; and British Journal of Sports Medicine.

For an up-to-date list of staff research and publications please see out staff profile pages at the following link: http://www.kent.ac.uk/sportsciences/staff/

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A good honours degree (at least a high 2.2) in sports science, exercise science or related subject. Alternatively, a relevant professional qualification with appropriate experience will be considered.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has a strong and vibrant research culture. It is quickly establishing the University of Kent as one of the leading places in the UK for the study of sport. Staff conduct research on a host of topics in all areas of Sports Science. This ranges from high-performance sport, training physiology, sports nutrition, performance optimisation to health-related research and research in special populations (as an example, staff have received research grants from organisations such as UEFA, WADA, the MoD, Sports Nutrition organisations and health-related charities to name but a few). See the Staff Research section for further details.

In addition, the School has one of the largest groups of research excellence within Europe in endurance performance lead by Professors Samuele Marcora and Louis Passfield. Professor Sam Marcora is the School’s Research Director and a prolific researcher. He has published many studies on a range of topics. Professor Louis Passfield has been conducting sports science research for over 20 years and has published many papers on training and cycling. He has also worked as a sports scientist with British Cycling, helping Britain’s leading riders prepare for four Olympic Games, including the highly successful Beijing Olympic team. We have a strong team of prolific, leading researchers within this group, and many are involved in a range of projects. For further details, see: www.kent.ac.uk/sportsciences/research/endurance-research-group.html

In sports therapy and injury rehabilitation, Dr Karen Hambly has established a world-wide reputation for her work in this area, and other staff within the School are involved in ground-breaking studies within this field. For further details, see: www.kent.ac.uk/sportsciences/research/health-research-group.html

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Mark Burnley: Senior Lecturer

Oxygen uptake kinetics; endurance performance; neuromuscular fatigue; applying control systems theory and non-linear dynamics to the physiology of exercise.


Dr Glen Davison: Lecturer

Sports nutrition and supplements; immune system function in athletes and how the immune system responds to various types of training; endurance performance; interval training; nutrition and health.


Kyra De Coninck: Lecturer

Anatomy and function of fascia, myofascial pain and adaptation of fascia to mechanical loading; interaction between chronic pain, physical activity and changes within the fascia network; ultrasound imaging of thoracolumbar fascia in a sedentary and athletic population, both with and without lower back pain.


Dr John Dickinson: Lecturer

Exercise-induced asthma in athletes; inspiratory stridor and breathing technique; inspiratory muscle training; the respiratory system and athletic performance.


Lucy Hale: Lecturer

Nutritional interventions to improve sport and exercise performance; the effect of Omega 3 EPA/DHA on markers of inflammation; exercise induced asthma in athletes.


Dr Karen Hambly: Senior Lecturer

Rehabilitation and outcome measures; rehabilitation after articular cartilage repair of the knee; return to sports after injury and patient perspectives of outcome measurement; development of exercise interventions for osteoarthritic populations.


Dr James Hopker: Lecturer

The physiological determinants of endurance performance and adaptations from exercise training; the use of pre-operative exercise training to increase patient fitness prior to major inter-cavity surgery; the use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy in the assessment of muscle and brain tissue oxygen consumption.


Sadie Jones: Lecturer

Working in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union to identify current practice in the prevention, management and treatment of hamstring injuries; researching hamstring muscles and fatigue and return to play following hamstring injuries.


Professor Samuele Marcora: Director of Research

Psychobiology of perception of effort and endurance performance; fatigue in chronic disease (eg, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, ME); psychobiology of exercise adherence.


Dr Lex Mauger: Lecturer

How the body, as an integrative system, maintains a relative homeostasis during intense exercise through the anticipatory regulation of work rate; the role of the different afferents produced during exercise and how these may be responded to by systems of central control; models of endurance performance, particularly through self-paced exercise.


Steve Meadows: Lecturer

Energy expenditure differences in heart attack patients during walking and cycling; group exercise and exercise adherence; physical activity promotion to the general population.


Dr Carla Meijen: Lecturer

How athletes approach competition; how challenge and threat states comprise cognitive (self-efficacy, perceived control, achievement goals), affective and physiological components.


Dr Sakis Pappous: Senior Lecturer

Social (eg, mass media, significant others) and psychological (eg, motivation, attitudes, self-efficacy) factors that influence participation in sport and physical activity; strategies aiming to increase participation of groups of society who are sedentary, including disabled people, people from minority ethnic groups and older people.


Professor Louis Passfield: Head of School

Interdisciplinary applied sports science issues in high performance sport; optimising training and competitive performance; enhancing physical activity in the local population. Louis’ research focuses on endurance training and performance, and elite cycling in particular.


Dr Samantha Winter: Lecturer

Clinical biomechanics with a particular focus on interventions to prevent falls in older people; steadiness in isometric force production including changes with ageing and strength training; mechanical models of muscle; the application of non-linear dynamics to movement, such as the effect of gait interventions on the fractal properties of the ground reaction force and joint moments; changes in postural stability with ageing.


Enquire or order a prospectus

MSc Sport Science for Optimal Performance



Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1634 888858

E: sportsciences@kent.ac.uk

School website


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Sport Science for Optimal Performance - MSc at Medway:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £16720
Part-time £3250 £8360

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

Publishing Office - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000