University of Chester

Programme Specification
Sports Sciences (Strength and Conditioning) MSc
2016 - 2017

Master of Science

Sports Sciences (Strength and Conditioning)

Sports Sciences (Strength and Conditioning)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Parkgate Road Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full time

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Sport and Exercise Sciences

No definitive post-graduate subject benchmarks exist. The Programme has been aligned to the benchmark statements for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (Sports Studies sections) and the QAA framework for higher education qualification level 7 benchmarks to identify generic characteristics (2010).

MSc. Sports Sciences

Saturday 1st January 2011

The broad aims of the programme are as follows:

  • to enable students to develop further a range of cognitive skills and abilities through a coherent and specialist sports science education;
  • to enable students to develop a range of discipline-specific abilities and apply them to selected areas of special interest for more advanced study of the strength and conditioning factors influencing sports participation;
  • to provide opportunities for students to enhance their abilities in a range of transferable skills;
  • to enable students to acquire and apply a corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge to the study of sport and exercise within the area of strength and conditioning;
  • to develop in students the basic competencies which will aid their personal development should they wish to pursue accreditation in the future.

The learning outcomes for each module clearly show the requirements for all students undertaking the course with regard to the range of programme content and the expected level of achievement commensurate with standard benchmarks (Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (Sports Studies sections), QAA framework for higher education qualification level 7 benchmarks). The teaching, learning and assessment strategies for the programme are designed to facilitate the student to gain knowledge and develop a sound understanding of all theoretical components and, importantly, apply the theory base to inform sports science practice. Progression of the student's knowledge and understanding is thus demonstrated through the learning outcomes, the variety of assessment strategies, the development of a learning portfolio and the level 7 related assessment marking criteria.

Throughout the programme a variety of different teaching methods are used to ensure that both intellectual and/or cognitive skills are developed at all stages as evidenced in the module aims and learning outcomes. Students are required to engage with current published research and critically review this to analyse material commensurate with the QAA guidelines. Seminars, group work and practicals will allow students to develop a critical awareness and appreciation of how research informs practice.

Practical Skills

The design of the programme ensures that theory and research are linked to the necessary skills of the sports science practitioner and researcher. The practical skills associated with each module have been mapped to the BASES guidelines for research and sports science accreditation to indicate where students gain experience and begin to develop a practitioner competency base.

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Transferable Professional Skills

The programme is designed to facilitate the development of students' key transferable skills commensurate with the University guidelines and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority directives. The model and descriptors established by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority have been used in a mapping exercise by the programme team to indicate where and how key transferable skills are embedded within each module and hence the programme.

Effective communication skills will be inherent in all the modules and will be assessed throughout the assessment strategy. This will be specifically demonstrated in presentations and seminars.

Application of Numbers: students accessing the programme will be working at a level that requires them to be numerate. Examples are practical measurements, statistical analysis and evaluation of results. These skills will be built upon throughout the programme, particularly in the research-based modules.

Information Technology: the students' IT skills, developed throughout each module, should be such as to enable them to access the University intranet, bibliographical databases and the Internet for academic and clinical studies, use the library effectively and perform literature searches and reviews. Their existing skills will be enhanced in the library induction and information skill session at the beginning of the programme, which will be specific to the University resources. The facilities of the wider University will also be open to the student. Study skills sessions are held at the beginning of each academic year and the services of the Learning Support Tutor will be available at other times. Students' IT skills will normally be evidenced in the production of word-processed assignments.

Improving own learning and performance: the entire programme is designed to facilitate the students in their development on both a personal and professional level. This will be evidenced via the assessment strategy.

Working with others: the student's ability to work with others will be demonstrated in the classroom, in practicals and working with athletes.

Problem solving: this area will be developed in all modules and will be demonstrated through the reflective analysis of practice, particularly in the applied practice modules, where the practitioners will be expected to discuss the effect of enhancing and developing practice in their specific area. The programme ensures that students are facilitated in their development of key skills. The mapping of key skills is shown in a grid format that demonstrates where the skills are addressed in each module.

The programme is modular in structure with the complete MSc. programme of study consisting of six taught modules each worth 20 credits (three core and three optional) and a research dissertation (12,000 words) or research project (5,000 words plus viva voce) equivalent to 60 credits (three modules).

A mixture of core and optional modules will be taught throughout the academic year.

Prior to the Christmas break, students following both full-time post-graduate pathways (MSc. and Post-Graduate Diploma) will take the core modules 'The Applied Sports Scientist' (SS7302) and 'Research Methods (SS7301), and SS7319 ' Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning '. After Christmas, students will take S7322 ' Issues in elite athlete assessment and monitoring ' alongside the core module SS7315 'Experiential Learning in Applied Sporting Performance', and thereafter SS7320 ' Physiology of training’.

In the first year, MSc. and PG Diploma students studying part-time will take SS7319 alongside 'The Applied Sports Scientist' (SS7302), followed after Christmas by SS7322 and then SS7320. In the second year, students will take SS7301 'Research Methods' and SS7315 'Experiential Learning in Applied Sporting Performance'.

Part-time Post-Graduate Certificate students will take one core module in the first year, either 'The Applied Sports Scientist' (SS7302) before Christmas, or SS7315 'Experiential Learning in Applied Sporting Performance' after Christmas. In the second year they will take two pathway-specific modules from SS7319 before Christmas or SS7322 or SS7320 after Christmas. 

After completing all taught components MSc. students will begin their research modules: dissertation (SS7310) or research project (SS7316), whilst students following the post-graduate diploma will not undertake the research modules. Although modular in structure the programme has been designed to facilitate progression and development in terms of knowledge, understanding, intellectual and applied skills of the sports scientist in line with the QAA masters level 7 criteria (2010). ‘SS7302 The Applied Sports Scientist - Core Competencies' will introduce students to the key aspects of the applied role common to all five (physiology, biomechanics, performance analysis, nutrition and strength and conditioning) areas of the programme and aid knowledge development of applied ethics, welfare, child protection and reflective skills, all of which are deemed core competencies by the British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists (BASES). This module will also examine key skills of the sport scientist researcher and will introduce students to the researcher-practitioner model and develop critical analysis skills which will provide a foundation of knowledge to be utilised and built upon in other modules.  Post-Easter, they will begin work on their research dissertation (SS7310) or research project (SS7316).

The module SS7322 does have a pre-requisite module, SS7319. Placing a pre-requisite on this later module is seen as crucial by the programme team in order to ensure that students have developed an in-depth knowledge of the key theoretical areas and constructs associated with sports performance analysis. Thus students are progressing from an empirical stance developed through in depth study of core theories and concepts to application. For students wishing to exit with a MSc. Sports Sciences (Performance Analysis) degree they must take SS7301, SS7302, SS7315, SS7319, SS7320 and SS7322, and undertake their dissertation (SS7310) or research project (SS7316) in an appropriate area of performance analysis.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SS7301 7 Research Methods in Sports Sciences 20 Comp
SS7302 7 The Applied Sports Scientist - Core Competencies 20 Comp
SS7310 7 Research Dissertation in Sports Science 60 Optional
SS7315 7 Experiential Learning in Applied Sporting Performance 20 Comp
SS7316 7 Research Project in Sports Science 60 Optional
SS7319 7 Contemporary Issues in Strength and Conditioning 20 Comp
SS7320 7 Physiology of Training 20 Comp
SS7322 7 Issues in Athlete Assessment and Monitoring 20 Comp

MSc. 180 credits (successful completion of 6 taught modules and the research dissertation 3 module equivalent).
Post-graduate Diploma 120 credits (successful completion of 6 taught modules)
Post-graduate Certificate named pathway 60 credits to include 40 credits from successful completion of 2 of the following 3 strand specific modules Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning, Physiology of training & Issues in athlete assessment and monitoring.
Students who successfully complete the 3 core modules (Core competencies, Experiential learning in applied sporting performance and Research methods) or a combination of core and 1 named pathway i.e. 2 core and 1 named pathway or 3 core will be eligible for the Post-graduate Certificate MSc. Sports Science.

A typical background for an applicant will be someone who has a first degree (minimum requirement of an upper second class honours classification) in either Sport or Exercise Sciences, Sports Studies, Physiology or Biomechanics. The University guidelines relating to APEL procedures will be used where students present with non-standard entry qualifications but can show equivalent knowledge - for example, high level coaches (level 4 / 5), where sports science knowledge and understanding is equivalent to undergraduate study.

There are at present no definitive post-graduate subject specific guidelines therefore the generic level 7 QAA criteria and subject specific benchmarks statements have been used to guide programme developments. Listed below are the seven QAA generic criteria (a-g) mapped to the programme.   

a) systematic understanding of knowledge; 

This will be developed in all modules of the programme.

b) critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice;   

This will be developed in all modules but most notably in SS7319 Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning and SS7302 The applied sports scientist.

c) a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;        

This will be developed in all modules but most notably SS7301 Research methods, SS7315 Experiential learning in applied sporting performance and SS7310 Research dissertation or SS7316 Research project.

d) originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;        

This will be developed in all modules of the programme, but most notably in SS7319 Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning,  SS7320 and SS7322.

e) conceptual understanding that enables the student: (i) to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline (ii) to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses;

This will be developed in all modules of the programme most notably in SS73319 Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning for point (i) and SS7301 Research methods and SS7310 Research dissertation or SS7316 Research project for point (ii)

f) deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audience;

This will developed in all modules but most notably in SS7319, SS7320 and SS7322.

g) demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;

Students will engage in this in all modules but specifically within SS7302 The applied sports scientist, SS7322 Issues in athlete assessment and monitoring, SS7315 Experiential learning in applied sporting performance and SS7310 Research dissertation or SS7316 Research project.

The programme will incorporate a number of teaching methods including lead lectures, seminars, workshops and laboratory practicals. Throughout the programme students will develop a range of practical, academic and applied skills designed to facilitate progression and develop independent learners commensurate with the expectations of MSc. graduates in the area of sports science. For example as well as gaining experience through traditional approaches to learning such as seminars, demonstrations and laboratory practicals, students will also engage with case studies and participate in role playing exercises. These teaching methods will allow students to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of key principles and critically reflect on information from a personal perspective forging a link between the theoretical principles raised and their application.

To ensure that students are given opportunities to engage with field experts, guest lecturers will be used to enhance the student experience. It is envisaged that these lectures will be delivered in an interactive environment where students are allowed to question, debate and discuss contemporary themes and emergent issues with sports scientists who bring differing views and experiences to those of the programme teaching team. Students will also have the opportunity to attend the staff Department Seminars.

The programme team is conscious of the fact that students continuing into post-graduate study are in many instances building upon previous knowledge. This can mean that the needs and requirements of each student might differ considerably depending upon the module and previous experience. To facilitate individual development and enhance the learning experiences of individuals each module incorporates a series of compulsory and optional formative assessment tasks. Compulsory formative assessment tasks will allow students to assess their knowledge and understanding and receive feedback from both staff and their peers where appropriate. Optional formative assessment tasks will utilise the Sharepoint module learning area to provide additional support and opportunities for students to engage in independent learning and assessment. These tasks will incorporate on-line self-tests, submitable activities and the discussion board. A bank of key resources related to post-graduate study skills will provide support in these instances. The summative assignment is seen as a central learning experience to each module and whilst designed to assess knowledge, understanding and achievement of learning outcomes the programme team have endeavoured to provide a range of assessment tasks which are embedded and linked to the module aims. Throughout the programme various assessment mediums will be used such as oral and poster presentations, research reports, critical analysis essays and reflective reports.


Delivery mode  Examples of experiential learning opportunities Summative assessment  
SS7301 Research methods Lead lectures. Group work. Practical Data manipulation. Research planning. Written Research Project/Dissertation proposal.
SS7302 The Applied sports scientist Lead lectures(including visiting lecturers)Group discussion. Seminars. Workshops Case study analysis. Practitioner skill reviews across disciplines.

Oral presentation on case history profiling and reflective practice.

 SS7315 Experiential learning in applied sporting performance Lead lectures, seminars, placement Mock interview, CV preparation.

Assignment A: Job interview presentation.

Assignment B: Case study.

SS7310 Dissertation Tutorials Non-assessed presentations. Peer reviews and observations. Research dissertation.
SS7316 Research Project  Tutorials Non-assessed presentations, Peer reviews and observations. Scientific research article plus viva voce defence.
SS7322 Issues in athlete assessment and monitoring Seminars, fieldwork and practicals Data collection, analysis and presentations.

Assignment A: Research report written in the format of a journal article.

Assignment B: Oral presentation focused on athlete feedback.

SS7319 Contemporary issues in strength and conditioning Lead-lectures, class and small group discussion, seminars, practical workshops Seminar discussion, case study analysis.

Assignment A: training programme as presented to an athlete or coach.

Assignment B: critical review of training strategies.

SS7320 Physiology of Training Lead-lectures, class and small group discussion, seminars, practical workshops, practicals, guest lectures,  student-led seminar discussions.  Individual and group presentations, practical skills.

Assignment A: Training resource

Assignment B: Assessed seminar

Graduates from this programme will have both generic and subject specific skills as identified below:

Key generic skills include the ability to: 

  • analyse key issues in a detached manner;
  • critically explore and reflect on research findings;
  • identify and define key issues for analysis;
  • design and apply appropriate research methods;
  • communicate results of research to peers and staff;
  • identify key research resources and references using a variety of mediums;
  • write clear and systematic reviews of literature;
  • plan and execute independent research projects;
  • write clear and concise research reports;
  • plan and deliver clear oral presentations;
  • work independently and in group situations.

Subject specific skills will include the ability to:

  • identify and describe the key competencies of the sports science practitioner;
  • identify and use key theoretical strength and conditioning principles to explain sports performance and enhancement;
  • identify and analyse how contemporary themes in strength and conditioning have been informed by field advancements;
  • identify and analyse key problems in sport and exercise;
  • identify and analyse the strength and conditioning aspects of sports performance and factors effecting the performer;
  • with supervision work with an athlete to profile and plan an appropriate intervention strategy to enhance performance;
  • use specialist knowledge in strength and conditioning to plan and execute sports related research projects.

The generic and subject-specific skills outlined above will mean that graduates of the programme will be well qualified to meet the growing demand for appropriately qualified sports science specialists within the United Kingdom. Previous experience from the MSc. Applied Sports and Exercise Psychology and MSc. Exercise and Nutrition Science programme indicates that graduates are highly sought after in numerous diverse areas of the sport and exercise world including but not restricted to: continued study at PhD. level; research, lecturing and teaching in both further and higher education; management roles in governing bodies; sports science support officers for national governing bodies and sports coach UK; coaching positions and work within health promotion units. Graduates from this programme will also have followed a curricula which covers key aspects of the UKSCA accreditation syllabus meaning that upon completion of the programme if they so wished graduates could go on to take professional qualifications.

Students are fully supported by a wide range of services both within the Faculty and in the wider University.  Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

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