MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology (BPS Accredited) - University of Portsmouth

Sport and Exercise Psychology (BPS Accredited)

Part Time2yrs

Full Time 1yr

The opportunity to become a trainee sport and exercise psychologist or probationary sport and exercise scientist

Course Overview

Why take this course?

The psychology of human performance in sport and exercise environments is fundamental to helping individuals to realise their physical, technical and health performance potential.

This course aims to train you to understand how the mind can impact human behaviour and performance within competitive sport and everyday physical activity settings.

What will I experience?

On this course you will:

  • Be taught by our BPS Chartered Psychologists and BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientists who have a wealth of experience in research and applied practice in sport and exercise psychology
  • Use specialist facilities and benefit from our strong links with UK Sport and the Fuchs Foundation

What opportunities might it lead to?

The global sport industry is estimated to be worth in excess of £110 billion and is growing rapidly. You can expect to find a career in many specific areas such as teaching, research, sport science support, or the health and fitness sectors. 

This course is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which means that graduates are eligible to apply for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). It also opens up a wide range of training and development opportunities. 

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • UK Sport
  • NHS
  • Sport governing bodies
  • Health and fitness companies
  • Private healthcare companies


Lucy May, Sport and Exercise Student 2013

The units on offer were perfect for what I needed to be able to progress in this area and I am seeing the benefit already.

Lucy May, Sport and Exercise Student 2013

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Structure & Teaching

You can choose to study for this course in either full-time or part-time mode. You will study several key topics and have the valuable opportunity to complete a professional practice placement, where you will be required to perform the role of a trainee sport and/or exercise scientist within a related setting.

Here are the units you will study:

  • Psychology of Elite Performance: This unit will provide an advanced theoretical, research and practical insight into the psychology of expertise and the role of psychology in optimising performance across a range of elite domains.
  • Applied Sport Psychology: For this unit you will study contemporary approaches to applied practice and develop a range of professional skills associated with the theory to practice transfer in sport and exercise.
  • 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.
  • Applied Research Methods: This unit will provide you with an opportunity to independently investigate a particular topic related to sport/exercise psychology.
  • Research Project: This unit will provide you with an opportunity to independently investigate a particular topic related to sport/exercise psychology.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

Our teaching approaches include lectures, seminars, laboratory workshops, and tutorials.

How are you assessed?

The varying teaching formats are reflected in the assignments. Here’s how we assess you:

  • essays
  • scientific reports
  • reflective accounts
  • product development
  • presentations
  • projects

Tutor's view


Dr Chris Wagstaff
Course Leader

This course provides an excellent blended learning opportunity with delivery through interactive live and online lectures, seminars, laboratories and workshops by BPS chartered & HCPC registered Sport and Exercise Psychologists and BASES accredited Scientists. Lecturers draw from their varied experiences as practitioners and researchers to bring the subject matter to life and outline how psychological principles and theories can be employed to benefit those in high performance environments (e.g., elite sport) and the health and fitness sectors (e.g., physical activity prescription and promotion).

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Facilities & Features

The Psychology Laboratory

Our lab has a range of specialist equipment including PLATO Liquid Crystal Spectacles allowing reaction timers to see how quickly we respond to visual or auditory cues, and various targets to assess the accuracy of skill development or performance. Our ASL Mobile Eye System enables researchers to examine exactly where individuals visually attend to when they are performing a movement or making a decision. There is also a separate interview room for non-practical research studies that houses a fully equipped media suite.

Learning Environments and Specialist Equipment

We are one of the leading departments offering sports science-based programmes in the UK according to the National Student Survey (NSS), the Times Good University Guide, the Independent University Guide, and the Guardian University Guide league tables. You will learn in a several different environments including our biomechanics, physiology and kinanthropometry labs, plus plenty of indoor space for practical activities, all located at the heart of the University. These house some of the country’s finest facilities, including:

  • 3 climatic chambers for manipulating temperature, humidity and altitude
  • an immersion pool
  • a swimming flume
  • an automated tracking system
  • visual 3D software

Research Groups

Our academic staff have a close affiliation with sport and are research active within their chosen specialism. We have three main research areas which include biomechanics, physiology and psychology, with BASES accredited and BPS chartered members of each area possessing prolific research profiles. Here are the areas of our current research:

  • Extreme Environmental Medicine and Science (co-ordinator: Dr Jim House)
  • Breast Health (co-ordinator: Dr Joanna Scurr)
  • Human Performance and Health (co-ordinator: Dr Jo Corbett)

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

For any placement activities, you will be required to meet the cost of travel. These costs will be dependent on the type of placement and may range from £50 - £1,000 to cover travel, accommodation or subsistence. For optional programmes of field work, costs may range from £50 - £1,000 dependent on the type of fieldwork being undertaken.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Specific careers directly related to this qualification include becoming an applied practitioner, and a researcher and/or a lecturer in sport and/or exercise psychology. Researchers tend to be employed by commercial companies and academic institutions. Lecturers in this field are employed by further and higher educational establishments.

Given the range of general employability skills developed throughout the programme, you could go on to a variety of careers in other sectors, for example, business, the police and the armed services.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • sports and exercise scientist
  • lecturer in sport and/or exercise psychology
  • researcher in sport and/or exercise psychology

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Postgraduate Open Evenings

Our Postgraduate Open Evenings are taking place between February and April. Lecturers and support staff will be available to discuss your options. You'll also find out more about your chosen course and subjects that interest you.

Booking will open soon but in the meantime, watch our Postgrad Live series to hear from our staff and students about what it's like studying at Portsmouth. 

Other opportunities to visit

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Fees and Funding

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