University of Chester

Programme Specification
Exercise and Nutrition Science MSc
2015 - 2016

Master of Science

Exercise and Nutrition Science

Exercise and Nutrition Science

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester and Dublin

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year (FT), 2-4 years (PT)

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

No definitive post-graduate subject benchmarks exist.  The programme has been aligned to the QAA framework for higher education qualification level 7 benchmarks to identify generic characteristics.

Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

Thursday 6th January 2011

The broad aims of the programme are as follows:

  • Provides postgraduate education and vocational opportunities for those aspiring to work in a wide range of careers relating to exercise and nutrition.
  • Provides a framework for the development of collaborative and interdisciplinary learning.
  • Offers students the opportunity to develop their understanding of the theoretical principles which underpin exercise and nutrition science.
  • Meets the market demand for professional development for those currently employed in areas of relevance to exercise and nutrition.
  • Offers opportunity for the completion of a major item of independent research study leading to potential for publication.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • 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 withtheQAA 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 informpractise in exercise and nutrtionscience.
  • Progression of the student’s knowledge and understanding is thus demonstrated through the learning outcomes, the variety of assessment strategies and the level 7 related assessment marking criteria.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • 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

  • Laboratory classes and exercise physiology activities are included in certain modules.
  • Data collection and analysis is central to the programme.
  • Research methodologies will be explored to provide the basis for the development of a sound research project suitable for the construction of a personal research project and possible publication.

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.

Key Skills

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

  • Communication: 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 Number: students accessing the programme will be working at a level that requires them to be numerate. Examplesare practicalmeasurements, 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 andin practical sessions.
  • Problem solving: this area will be developed in all modules and will be demonstrated through the module assessments.


The MSc involves the study of one core module, five option modules and a research project

The PgDip involves the study of six modules (there are no core modules).

The PgCert involves the study of three modules (there are no core modules)


Each module comprises 200 hours of total student study time which is split broadly as below:

  • 25hrs intensive course of lectures, seminars, group discussions, laboratories and practical activities
  • 15hrs of practical activities, work experience and support tutorials
  • 160hrs of directed self-study
  • students prepare an assignment using the Module Resource Pack, on-line learning resources and primary research journals. The specific assignment requirements are set out in the module descriptors but are each equivalent to a 4,000 word written assignment.

Each module is worth 20 Level 7 Academic Credits.

The course meets the requirements of FHEQ for students working at Level 7, notably:

  • students will gain a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in the field of exercise and nutrition science.
  • students will continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level and will have:
      1. the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment
      2. the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
      3. decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations
      4. the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development
    MSc and PG Diploma students may select up to two option modules from other complementary programmes offered by the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition (MSc Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation and MSc Obesity and Weight Management) subject to the agreement of the programme leader. Relevant modules are as follows:
    • MSc Cardiovascular Rehabilitation (XN7401, XN7402, XN7403, XN7404, XN7405, XN7407, XN7408, XN7410)
    • MSc Weight Management (XN7201, XXN7202, XN7203, XN7204, XN7205, XN7206, XN7207, XN7208, XN7212)
    PG Certificate students may select the option module from other complementary programmes offered by the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition (MSc Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation and MSc Obesity and Weight Management) subject to the agreement of the programme leader. The list of relevant modules is as given above.


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
XN7501 7 Physiology & Physical Performance 20 Optional
XN7502 7 Physiology & Biochemistry of Metabolism 20 Optional
XN7506 7 Science of Weight Control 20 Optional
XN7508 7 Performance Enhancement 20 Optional
XN7509 7 Nutrition in Health and Disease 20 Optional
XN7512 7 Research Methods and Data Analysis 20 Comp
XN7514 7 Sports Nutrition 20 Optional
XN7515 7 Exercise and Health 20 Optional
XN7521 7 Independent Study (Exercise Science) 20 Optional
XN7522 7 Independent Study (Nutrition) 20 Optional
XN7523 7 Research Project 60 Comp

MSc - 180 credits at Level 7(1 core module, 5 option modules plus research project)
PgDip - 120 credits at Level 7 (6 modules - there are no core modules)
PgCert - 60 credits at Level 7 (3 modules - there are no core modules)

  • A typical background for an applicant will be someone who has a first degree with a minimum of a 2:2 in an appropriate subject.
  • Students will be from a range of back grounds such as newly qualified graduates and also academic and professional health backgrounds including physiotherapists, dieticians, nurses etc.  
  • The University guidelines relating to APEL procedures will be used where students present with non-standard entry qualifications but can show equivalent knowledge.

There are at present no definitive post-graduate subject specific guidelines therefore the generic level 7 QAA criteria and benchmark 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 XN7515 Exercise and Health, XN7514 Sports Nutrition and XN7509 Nutrition in Health and Disease.

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

This will be developed in all modules but most notably XN7512 Research Methods and Data Analysis and XN7523 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 XN7506 Science of Weight Control, XN7501 Physiology and Physical Performance and XN7514 Sports Nutrition.

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 XN7501 Physiology and Physical Performance, and XN7514 Sports Nutrition for point (i)  and XN7512 Research Methods and Data Analysis and XN7523 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 XN7506 Science of Weight Control, XN7514 Sports Nutrition, XN7501 Physiology and Physical Performance and XN7523 Research Project.

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 XN7506 Science of Weight Control, XN7512 Research Methods and Data Analysis and XN7523 Research Project.

  • The programme is delivered by a mix of: academics from the University of Chester and other UK universities; professionals from a range of disciplines; and other visiting lecturers with appropriate specialist knowledge and skills.
  • In Chester, the programme is comprised of series of taught modules each delivered by a series of whole morning sessions scheduled over a period of six weeks; in addition the programme includes directed learning and the submission of a 4,000 word assignment, or its equivalent.
  • In Dublin, the programme is comprised of series of taught modules each delivered by a three-day, 25 hour short course followed by a period of directed learning and the submission of a 4,000 word assignment, or its equivalent.
  • A diverse range of teaching and learning modes are utilised for this programme (lectures, seminars, group activities, case studies, student presentations, laboratory classes and practical activities). Independent learning following an intensive "taught" element is a key feature of the programme.
  • Throughout the programme students are encouraged to interact with the teaching teams through individual tutorials which may be face-to-face, by telephone or email. There is opportunity for formative comment on assignment drafts.
  • The formal modular programme is supported by a range of extra-modular workshops covering (for instance): e-learning and use of on-line resources (delivered by Learning Resources); high level information presentation skills; IT (including use of research software such as Nvivo); and specialist professional development activities.
  • Where appropriate, students are encouraged to take up placement opportunities / work experience with collaborating health-care units.
  • The above approach offers higher learning in a client-focused manner which suits the requirements of busy practitioners who wish to update their knowledge and skills.

  • Each module is assessed and must be passed at Level 7 and carries 20 credits.
  • The research project module carries 60 credits.
  • Assessments are based around consideration of authentic problems and circumstances. Assessment tasks vary from module to module but include, for instance, preparation of reports, research posters, presentations, analysis of datasets.
  • Demonstration of critical thinking is essential to achieve the Masters' level requirements.
  • A minimum of 25% of assessed work is second marked in accordance with University policy. All dissertations are independently double marked.
  • Where a student fails to achieve the required standard the assignment must be revised and resubmitted in accordance with the recommendations made by the examiners.

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

    Key generic skills include the abiity 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 exercise and nutrtion scientist;
    • identify and use key theoretical physiological and or, nutritional perspectives;
    • identify and analyse how contemporary themes in exercise and nutrition science have been informed by field advancements;
    • identify and analyse key problems in exercise and nutrition science;
    • identify and analyse the physiological and or, nutritional demands effecting the performer;
    • use specialist knowledge in exercise and nutrition science to plan and execute 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 exercise and nutrition science specialists within the United Kingdom. Graduates from the MSc. Exercise and Nutrition Science programme are highly sought after in numerous diverse areas of the exercise and nutrtion science world including but not restricted to: continued study at PhD. level; research, lecturing and teaching in both further and higher education; exercise physiologists; sports scientists and work within health promotion units.

  • The programmes in Exercise and Nutrition Science (MSc, PgD and PgC) currently recruit world-wide and hence there is considerable diversity in national and ethnic origins.
  • Modules are designed to include debate and discussion of exercise and nutrition in different settings (both within the UK and elsewhere). International students are encouraged to contribute by adding their home experiences.
  • Programmes recruit from a mix of academic disciplines and experience; the teaching team aim to promote a sharing of ideas and hence best practice in a sharing and collaborative interprofessional environment.
  • Current students include a stimulating mix of ages; from young new graduates through to older individuals with many years of professional experience in the many areas of relevance to exercise and nutrition science.

Student support:

  • All modules have resource packs of support materials to aid directed study.
  • Students are counselled on admission with regard to sensible module selection.
  • A personal academic tutor is allocated to each student
  • The Research Co-ordinator provides additional tutor support during the research phase of studies.
  • A Disability Link Tutor provides support to students with disabilities. 

Volunteer work placements, shadowing and other professional development experiences are facilitated wherever possible.

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