University of Chester

Programme Specification
Neuromuscular Therapy MSc
2015 - 2016

Master of Science

Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular Therapy

University of Chester

National Training Centre in partnership with the University of Chester

National Training Centre, Dublin, Ireland (Academic Partner of University of Chester) is located near the centre of Dublin City and close to all main bus, train, dart and Luas lines.

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,


6 Years

Bienniel - September

not appl



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 

Friday 1st July 2011

Programme Rationale

Neuromuscular Therapy is an evidence based approach to the treatment and management of chronic pain focussing on the generators of pain and the science of fascia. The science of Neuromuscular Therapy is a rapidly expanding field. New findings linking fascia and Myofascial Trigger Points to acute and chronic pain conditions are constantly being published as knowledge becomes updated. However, the job of interpreting this research and applying it into practical situations is not always straightforward. Modular in structure, this unique programme has been designed to facilitate progression and development in terms of knowledge, understanding, intellectual and applied skills of the Neuromuscular Therapist at postgraduate level driven by the emerging evidence base. The curriculum for the programme has been developed around three interconnected evidence based themes of Wholism, Integration and Functionalism embedded in an inter-professional learning environment.   

Programme aims; 

The aims of this postgraduate programme are to:

  • develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the major contemporary issues in acute and chronic pain management;
  • develop the key competencies of the Neuromuscular Therapist;
  • enhance key/transferable skills such as analytical skills, communication and presentation skills, planning and management of learning and research skills;
  • develop skills necessary for independent and autonomous learning;
  • enable learners to engage in informed debate about major themes in acute and chronic pain management;
  • equip learners with the skills to design, conduct and critically appraise research in the field of neuromuscular therapy.
  • develop the critical and practical skills needed to undertake a research project; design, organise, conduct and report upon an extended independent research project.


On successful completion of the programme learners should be able to:

  • Demonstrate extensive understanding of relevant established and contemporary knowledge within the subject of Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Communicate the specialist subject knowledge systematically, effectively and precisely in a variety of formats and contexts
  • Engage effectively in informed and reflective debate in relation to the subject area in a number of ways
  • Show critical awareness and evaluative skills in relation to focal issues
  • Demonstrate competency applying and translating the knowledge base in a clinical environment and understand the role of other professionals in the process of care
  • Analyse and develop a theoretically and research-informed perspective upon practical issues

The modules of study indicate the areas of specific subject knowledge which underpins the science and practice of neuromuscular therapy that will be sequentially developed across the programme. The assessment tasks that the learners will complete are constructed to challenge learners’ understanding of both the formal curriculum and the issues that surround its application into practice.


The approaches to teaching and learning are constructed to ensure that these skills are developed at all stages of the programme. Learners are required to contextualise, synthesise and critically evaluate the evidence base and research literature, including data and policy documents. An ability to critically appraise the strengths and weaknesses in research methods and the wider research literature is required. A problem based approach is adopted for a number of modules and a critical analysis is required throughout the programme. Demonstration of originality in tackling and solving problems and the ability to act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks will be expected throughout the various modules. 

The programme is designed to ensure that theoretical concepts are considered within the necessary framework of professional practice. The programme team includes a number of academics and practitioners who are worldwide experts in the professional presentation and practical delivery of Neuromuscular Therapy, human movement and medical exercise science. The team members are long establised in a number of professional settings and their experience and expertise is harnessed in the delivery of this programme to ensure practical competencies are developed.

The programme is designed to facilitate development of learners’ 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.

Communication skills

  • Ability to cite and reference work in an appropriate manner
  • Ability to critically evaluate the evidence base in relation to obesity and weight management and communicate conclusions to a range of audiences in a range of formats e.g. written and oral

Numeracy and problem solving skills

  • Ability with minimal guidance to receive and respond to a variety of complex sources of information: textual, verbal, numerical and graphical
  • Ability to carry out sample selection; record and analyse data in the field and/or the laboratory; ensure validity, accuracy, calibration, precision and highlight issues that may arise
  • Ability to process, interpret and present complex data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods, statistical programmes, data sheets and programs for presenting data visually
  • Ability to solve problems by a variety of methods both autonomously and in groups

Information literacy and technology

  • Proficiency in the use of the internet and other electronic sources as a means of communication and a source of information 

Working with others

  • Ability to identity individual and group goals and responsibilities and perform in a manner appropriate to these roles
  • Ability to recognise and respect the views and opinions of others
  • Ability to self reflect and evaluate contribution and performance as an individual and member of a group, evaluate the contribution and performance of others

Improving own learning and performance

  • Demonstrate the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. working independently, organisations and time management skills
  • Ability to identify and work towards targets for personal, academic and professional development
  • Ability to develop an appropriate, adaptable, flexible and effective approach to study and work 

The MSc involves the study of six taught modules all of which are compulsory for the programme and a Research Project (3-module equivalent). Each module carries 20 credits at Level 7 (10 ECTS).

Taught Modules

Each taught module consists of 20-25 hours of tutor contact time, normally delivered as a three day intensive course (Fri, Sat, Sun). This is followed by 175 hours of directed self-study and the preparation and submission of a research-based assignment. As is appropriate for a degree at Masters level, all modules will be underpinned by the research evidence base and will require learners to engage fully with the relevant academic literature. In all modules, learners will be expected to show originality in the application of knowledge and to deal with complex issues in a systematic manner.

Research Project (3 module equivalent).

Following completion of six taught modules, MSc learners are required to undertake a programme of personal research on a topic of relevance to European Neuromuscular Therapy leading to the submission of two research papers in academic publication style. Projects may be laboratory-based at the NTC, linked departments at the University or workplace-based and may utilise a range of methodological approaches and traditions; whilst some projects will be experimental based designs, others will adopt more qualitative methods. It is envisaged that many of those learners who are in employment will undertake projects in collaboration within their employment environment and be supported by the designated Supervisor. Throughout the research stage of their studies all learners are under the guidance and direction of the Programme Research Co-ordinator and an individually allocated supervisor. It is a responsibility of the Programme Research Co-ordinator to maintain an overview of all learners at the research stage to ensure that research projects are consistent with the aims and objectives of the programme. In accordance with established practice within Clinical Sciences all research projects will be subject to formal approval at the proposal stage and all will be reviewed with respect to matters of ethics. Whilst most projects will be reviewed by the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) - others will be considered by other review bodies elsewhere in the world. For further information on the Faculty Research Ethics Committee see Sharepoint via Applied Sciences - Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

The following Awards exist:

Postgraduate Certificate - This requires the successful completion of three taught modules (60 Level 7 credits).

Postgraduate Diploma - This requires the successful completion of six taught modules (120 Level 7 credits).

MSc Degree - This requires the successful completion of six taught modules plus a Masters dissertation (180 Level 7 credits).

Free Standing Modules

Additionally the modules are available as CPD where appropriate. Learners may attend individual taught modules for which 20 Level 7 credits will be awarded following successful assessment. Alternatively, learners may attend the 20-25hour taught element without assessment, for which a Certificate of Attendance will be given.

Advanced Standing

The normal University procedures of APL and APEL apply to this programme. See Sharepoint for further information.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
XN7123 7 Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques 20 Comp
XN7124 7 Myofascial Trigger Points, Sensitization and Neuromusculoskeletal Pain 20 Comp
XN7125 7 Human and Fascial Anatomy 20 Comp
XN7126 7 The Science of Medical Exercise 20 Comp
XN7127 7 Functional Nutritional Medicine 20 Comp
XN7128 7 Research Methods and Data Analysis 20 Comp
XN7129 7 Research Project 60 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate
This requires the successful completion of three taught modules (60 Level 7 credits).
Postgraduate Diploma
This requires the successful completion of six taught modules (120 Level 7 credits).
MSc Degree
This requires the successful completion of six taught modules plus a Masters dissertation (180 Level 7 credits).

Students gaining access to this programme need to demonstrate prior knowledge in principles of injury and pain management and demonstrate acceptable assessment skills (postural, mechanical etc). The entry requirements for the MSc in Neuromuscular Therapy are:

a) an Undergraduate Degree in an allied field such as Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Sports Therapy, an appropriate field of medicine which includes hands on palpation skills.

 or (b) an equivalent qualification. A bridging unit of study will be provided on an individual assessed basis to enable widening participation of the programme for all applicants needing to bring their palpation skills up to the required standard. Applications will be considered at an individual level in accordance with demonstration of prior knowledge. Applications from those wishing to return to practice will be considered.

APL and APEL will be considered in accordance with University of Chester Policy. Programme participation requires students to assess skin both visually and by means of touch which may require the removal of clothing. Although not a compulsory requirement it is conducive to the learning experience.

The subject specific context for Neuromuscular Therapy is research informed and practice driven. The programme curriculum has been designed to develop the key competencies of the Neuromuscular Therapist; These can be summarised as the ability to:

• Evaluate and use key theoretical physiological perspectives to explain neuromuscular therapeutic outcomes;

• Critically analyse how contemporary themes in myofascial pain management have been informed by field advancements;

• Investigate and manage key problems in chronic and myofascial pain management;

• Determine the physiological demands of pain and factors effecting the patient;

• Integrate knowledge and skills developed in this emerging discipline into their current practice and further develop the evidence base and the profession and work with other professionals;

• Work with clients to profile and plan an appropriate intervention strategy to manage and reduce pain and utilising specialist knowledge gained in myofascial pain plan and execute a plan of therapeutic interventions.

There are at present no definitive post-graduate subject specific guidelines therefore the generic level 7 (M) 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 in the context of Neuromuscular Therapy but most notably in XN7123, XN7124, XN7125, XN7126 and XN7127

 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.

c) a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship; This will be developed in all modules but most notably XN7128 Research Methods and Data Analysis and for Masters students XN7129 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; Graduates of the Masters programme will be Neuromuscular Therapists who will integrate knowledge and skills developed in this emerging discipline into their current practice and also further develop the evidence base and the profession. Graduates who are considering returning to practice will have updated knowledge, skills and practice to facilitate this. Graduates will be able to work with clients and other professionals to profile and plan an appropriate intervention strategy to manage and reduce pain and utilising specialist knowledge gained in myofascial pain will be capable of planning and executing a plan of therapeutic interventions hitherto not a focus of traditional pain management. This will be developed in all modules of the programme, but most notably in XN7123, XN7126 and 7127. 

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 but most notably in XN7124, XN7125, XN7128 and XN7129. 

 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.

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 most notably in XN7126, XN7128 and XN7129. 

The neuromuscular therapy 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, transferable and applied skills designed to facilitate progression and develop independent learners commensurate with the expectations of MSc graduates in the area of neuromuscular therapy. 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 therapists of varying stripes who bring differing views and experiences to those of the programme teaching team.

Throughout the neuromuscular therapy programme various assessment mediums both formative and summative will be used such as oral and poster presentations, research reports, critical analysis essays and reflective reports. These are summarised below.

Assessment Criteria

All modules are designated Level ‘7’ and must be passed at this Level. Coursework will include critical reflection essays, reviews of literature, poster and oral presentations, research reports and case study analysis. Level 7 modules are assessed in accordance with the following criteria:

1. Evidence of critical reading of a range of relevant literature and research beyond basic texts.

2. Use of key theories and concepts in the discussion of relevant issues

3. Selective and critical use of literature and, where appropriate, researching and developing an argument which goes beyond reiteration of existing views.

4. Any research work (experimental, experiential, reflective, case study, historical, philosophical, etc) planned in scale and scope so that adequate and appropriate evidence is gathered, carried through with due regard for reliability validity, safety and ethics and effectively communicated.

5. Conclusions and interpretations reached cautiously and discussed critically, with acknowledgement of alternative interpretations which could be made and related to earlier theoretical arguments.

6. Written work must be coherent, articulate and acknowledge academic form.

7. Artistic work should reflect an effective synthesis of form and content. It should be formally coherent and articulate and have been subject to rigorous self evaluation and critical reflection based on an evolving personal critical position.

To achieve the required standard, the work must achieve most of the above criteria. At the end of the assessment of the programme learners will be able to: 1) analyse key issues in a detached manner; 2) critically explore and reflect on research findings; 3) identify and define key issues for analysis; 4) design and apply appropriate research methods; 5) communicate results of research to peers and staff and others; 6) identify key research resources and references using a variety of mediums; 7) write clear and systematic reviews of literature; 8) plan and execute independent research projects; 9) write clear and concise research reports; 10) plan and deliver clear oral presentations; 11) work independently and in group situations.



XN7123 Client centred case study consolidating application of learning
XN7124 Production of a presentation (slides and associated speakers notes) by using IT (KeyNote, Powerpoint, other) focusing on a target learned audience critically evaluating the core science underpinning the focus of the emerging discipline.
XN7125 A critical review of the emerging field of fascial anatomy and its contribution to the treatment of chronic pain and a reflection on practice implications.
XN7126 a)   An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) using role play interview with a clients to assess, plan and communicate an exercise intervention in a client centred manner. b)   Written articulation of the exercise plan with justification and a reflection on role play.
XN7127 a)   Design and production of a client education leaflet to summarise the core nutritional concepts and functionality of food in the clinical context of NMT. b)   Letter to editor in response to newspaper article. 
XN7128 a)   A research proposal appropriate for the development of a research dissertation. To include preparation of ethics documentation as appropriate.  b)      A data analysis exercise/report (50% of module mark). At the beginning of the module students will receive data (in hard and soft form) to process and analyse according to set questions. Results should be presented in a concise manner and incorporate appropriate tables and/or figures.
XN7129 Submission of two papers in style of recognised refereed journal: a)   Literature review of chosen research topic b)   Project report focussing on methods, findings and relevance to field.


Taught Module Assessment

1. Each taught module will require the production of a written assignment (4,000 words, or its equivalent). The precise nature of the required assignment will be set out in the published module handbook for each module available upon enrollment to the programme for each module.

2. The assignment must normally be submitted within eight weeks of the end of the taught element of the module. Module tutors will give exact dates for submission. Learners who do not submit the required assignments for a particular module, by the due date, or approved extension date, may be deemed to have failed the assessment.

3. Learners are normally expected to attend at least 75% of taught sessions for any one module.

Graduates of the Masters programme will be Neuromuscular Therapists who will integrate knowledge and skills developed in this emerging discipline into their current practice and further develop the evidence base and the profession. Graduates who are considering returning to practice will have updated knowledge, skills and practice to facilitate this.

Graduates will be able to work with clients to profile and plan an appropriate intervention strategy to manage and reduce pain and utilising specialist knowledge gained in myofascial pain will be capable of planning and executing a plan of therapeutic interventions hitherto not a focus of traditional pain management.

The generic and subject-specific skills developed ensure that graduates of the programme will be well qualified to meet the growing demand for appropriately qualified myofascial and chronic pain specialists with the option for continued study at PhD level, research projects in the work place, lecturing and teaching in both further and higher education. Through the efforts of the NTC Careers Officer, our Corporate Partners and informal links with the health and leisure industry, we will actively encourage employers to recruit students from our Masters degree programme within the many private clinics now established and within health clubs, leisure centres, sports complexes, multidisciplinary clinics and others. As many of the course participants will already be qualified in an allied area such as sports therapy, massage, physiotherapy, structural integration, osteopathy, chiropractic and others, they can simply integrate their newly established knowledge and skills to their existing work.

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

The programmes of study in the Dept of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition  fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.

The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed and delivered to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. Each module and programme is developed in line with University policies to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning. The Equal Opportunities Committee is responsible for monitoring the operation of policies.

The National Training Centre (NTC) is ideally positioned to promote and deliver this proposed MSc providing a balanced programme of professional training at postgraduate level informed by the most recent research in the field and delivered by respected expert authorities in the associated topics. The modules of the Masters in Neuromuscular Therapy have been developed around three interconnected themes Wholism, Integration and Functionalism. A detailed review of current degree programmes (in Ireland, UK and internationally) has identified a unique opportunity to provide an advanced academic programme with Myofascial Trigger Points and Fascia at the core of its focus specific to chronic pain.

With a reputation based on more than twenty five years NTC is well positioned to take advantage of the number of professionals expressing an interest in this field of study. The National Training Centre, an academic partner of university of Chester, exists to provide education and training in the areas of complementary medical healthcare and health related fitness which lead to industry recognised national qualifications. The degree is an award of the University of Chester. The National Training Centre (NTC) comprises five schools and colleges. The National College of Exercise and Health Studies (NCEHS) provides training in the area of health related fitness. The National School of Sports Massage (NSSM) provides training in the area of orthopaedic sports massage. The College of Complementary Medical Education (CCME) provides training in the areas of neuromuscular therapy and the Irish College of osteopathic Medicine provides a five year part-time degree programme in Osteopathic Medicine. The Pilates Institute (Ireland) provides training in the area of pilates. The Irish College of Osteopathic Medicine which provides training in the area of osteopathic medicine. NTC is the accepted authority in these areas in Ireland and we work with world authorities to bring the very latest educational experiences to our students. Our organisation is 100% student focused and our custom built facilities recognise our commitment to enhancing student's learning experiences and outcomes. NTC offers a National Qualification scheme leading to recognised National, European and international qualifications. For example, the National Qualification in Exercise, Health Studies and Personal Training is externally accredited by EHFA (through CYQ a recognised independent third party accrediting authority). This is currently the European Standard as developed under EUROPFIT AND ECVET Fitness EU Projects and has worldwide recognition through REPS Ireland, REPS UK, EREPS (Europe) and ICREPS the International Confederation of Registered Exercise Professionals which is ,to date, made up of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and North America. Although a small number of Institutes of Technology have been successful in achieving EHFA accreditation at level 3, NTC is the only Irish training provider to achieve level four.

NTC employs full time administrative staff and professional tutors recognised as authorities in the chosen fields. NTC offer a wide range of qualifications, some in conjunction or partnership with Irish and UK based third level educational institutions such as Ireland’s largest third level institution the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and University of Chester, UK. Public service bodies such as the Departments of Justice and Defence, FAS and others have acknowledged the quality of NTC National Qualifications by continually placing students on our programmes. NTC management structure is governed by comprehensive strategic planning and guides the programmes, policies and procedures of the NTC and assiduously upholds NTC standards and Guidelines.

The programme has been developed with employer and professional partner input to ensure graduates meet the needs of the sector.

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