BSc (Hons) Physical Activity and Health

Experience first-rate academic support and hands-on learning as part of Abertay's Physical Activity and Health degree.

Course detail

Start Date



4 years (full-time)

Award Title

BSc (Hons)



Programme Overview

Turn your passion for sports and science into a degree that equips you with the knowledge and skills required to understand the impact of physical activity and health at an individual and community level.

Physical Activity and Health is one of the specialist routes within the sports portfolio at Abertay – this means you’ll make your choice of specialism at the end of stage two of the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise programme.   

This degree draws on the core disciplines of physiology, psychology, sociology and public health theory, allowing you to facilitate health promotion interventions – a crucial part of improving the wellbeing of the population.

Public health policy and health promotion 

You’ll go on to study more specific physical activity and health modules, covering areas such as public health policy and health promotion, as well as exercise prescriptions for general and specialist populations.

You’ll have access to our Human Performance Laboratory, with running, rowing, fitness testing and weights machines. You’ll also have opportunities to meet with a range of charitable health and social care organisations who regularly draw on the expertise of our lecturing staff within this facility.

Undergraduate Open Days

Visit our Dundee campus and find your place at Abertay University.

Our 2023 undergraduate Open Days will be held on ...

  • Saturday 30 September 2023

  • Saturday 4 November 2023

... and you're invited!

Click below to book your place. 


Your Journey Starts Here

All teaching on this programme is underpinned by research, and there’s a strong emphasis on links with industry, including opportunities for placements and internships. This gives you the chance to work and network within various sports industries and work towards achieving awards.

Male using an exercise bike

About Your Modules

All modules shown are indicative and reflect course content for the current academic year. Modules are reviewed annually and may be subject to change. If you receive an offer to study with us we will send you a Programme document  that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme. Please see Terms and Conditions for more information.


Year 3 Core Modules

You must study and pass all five core modules

Brief description

The health benefits of physical activity and its potential function in disease prevention, treatment and its role in promoting and maintaining public health.

Indicative content:

  • Relationship between physical activity and health: Physical activity and disease mortality Morbidity. Historical perspective to present day.
  • Epidemiology of physical activity: Concepts and methods in physical activity Epidemiology Epidemiological measures.
  • Variations in health status: Influence of age, gender, social status, education.
  • Determinants of participation in physical activity: Challenges of engaging people in physical activity.
  • Physical activity recommendations: Identified role of physical activity in policies to promote health. Developing role, adoption and promotion of physical activity as a tool to promote health of the nation.
  • Role of physical activity in promoting physical and mental health: Physical and mental health benefits of regular participation in physical activity.

Brief description

The principles of assessment and exercise programming. Examine acute and chronic outcomes of training to improve health and undertake several physiological/fitness tests. Learn how to use fitness test results to plan, implement and evaluate individualised and safe, evidence-based programmes to help clients achieve health goals.

Indicative content:

  • Basic proncoples of assessment training.
  • Health screening and pre-exercise evaluation.
  • Exercise programming for health.
  • Acute responses and chronic adaptations to exercise.
  • Programming adaptations for special populations.
  • Assessing body composition.
  • Assessing muscle strength, endurance and flexibility testing.
  • Assessing fumctional fitness. Assessing cardiorespiratory endurance..

Brief description

The aetiology, physiology and pathophysiology of obesity and the principal non-communicable diseases.

Indicative content:

  • Pathophysiology of Obesity: The pathophysiology of obesity and its exacerbation by physical inactivity.
  • Pathophysiology of Type II Diabetes: The pathophysiology of Type II Diabetes and its exacerbation by physical inactivity.
  • Pathophysiology of Cardiovascular: The pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease and its exacerbation by physical inactivity.
  • Pathophysiology of Cancer: The pathophysiology of cancer and its exacerbation by physical inactivity.

Brief description

Health issues high on the policy agenda and the ways in which participation in physical activity can be and is promoted as a way to address them.

Indicative content:

  • Defining health: The different ways in which health can and will be defined.
  • Complexity of health promotion in contemporary society: The ways in which health promotion has the potential to both reduce and exacerbate existing social inequalities.
  • Physical activity, its determinants and importance for health promotion: The factors that influence physical activity and its fundamental role in health promotion.
  • Critical engagement with the Obesity ‘Epidemic’: Why obesity is prioritised on the health policy agenda.
  • Health promotion, physical activity and the environment: The environmental factors that influence the promotion of health and physical activity participation.

Brief description

Develop your ideas about research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health, to better understand and appreciate published research and design your own research project.

Indicative content:

  • The research process: The steps associated with planning and conducting a research process.
  • Formulating and refining research questions: How research ideas are questions are generated and refined.
  • Research methodologies: Various research methodologies (e.g., quantitative, qualitative and mixed−methods). Develop an appreciation of diverse approaches to research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health.
  • Ethical issues: The key ethical issues associated with research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health.
  • Practical skill development: Develop your practical research skills in your chosen discipline area.

Year 3 Option Modules

You must study and pass one option module of your choosing, although you must select a Work Placement module in either Year 3 or Year 4.

Brief description

Explore contemporary issues in sport and exercise, particularly those you will likely encounter and have to navigate in future employment.

Indicative content:

  • Social theory: Learn key aspects of social theory that can be/have been used to explain phenomena in sport and exercise.
  • Inequality and discrimination: Explore the main sources of inequality and discrimination in sport and exercise (e.g., gender, social class, ethnicity, LGBTI).
  • Sport and politics: Explore how various political systems/ideologies and governing bodies use sport/athletes for social control.
  • Ethics and sport: Learn about moral and ethical issues in sport and exercise (e.g., child protection).  

Brief description

Theoretical and practical knowledge of the fundamentals of strength and conditioning. Learn some of the major underpinning physiological and biomechanical components of human performance, and scientifically justified periodised methods for training to achieve specific goals. 

Indicative content:

  • Introduction to Strength and Conditioning/Functional Screening: Introduction to key terminology/concepts of Strength and Conditioning and a fundamental understanding of basic functional athlete screening.
  • Introduction to Human Movement: An introduction to human anatomy and the mechanics of human force production (e.g., planes of movement, lever systems).
  • Introduction to Compound lifting: Introduction to the major compound exercises (e.g., Back/Front Squat, Dead−Lift, Bent−Over Row, Bench Press and an introduction to Weightlifting derivatives) with Key technical elements and coaching points associated with each lift.
  • Neuromuscular physiology: Neuromuscular physiology and fibre types.
  • Plyometric training: An introduction to the fundamental principles underpinning Plyometric Training (Stretch−Shortening −Cycle) and an understanding of the key technical coaching points.
  • Sports nutrition: Principles of periodised sports nutrition for S&C training programmes.

Year 4 Core Modules

You must study and pass all three core modules

Brief description

Undertake an independent research project in an area of sport, health or physical activity.

Indicative content:

  • Research project topics: Select your research project topic with staff guidance. You are allocated a supervisory tutor within the Division.
  • Supervisory sessions: These cover the identification of a research question; necessary elements of research design; the approach needed to prepare for and complete the research project; a range of appropriate research methods; appropriate statistical analyses; the structure of the research report; the interpretation of the research results; possible or probable conclusions; and the writing of the report.

Brief description

The role of physical activity for special populations. How participation in physical activity has the potential to enhance physical, social and mental health and well−being. The challenges of getting different population groups to engage in physical activity.

Indicative content:

  • Guidelines: Population physical activity guidelines.
  • Benefits: Physical, social and mental health benefits associated with physical activity.
  • Needs and challenges: Identification of physical activity needs and challenges associated with engaging different groups in physical activity.
  • Participation: Examine participation trends associated with different populations.
  • Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values: Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values of different populations regarding physical activity.

Brief description

Theoretical knowledge, practical skills and the development of expertise necessary to enable you to evaluate lifestyles, identify and apply appropriate modification techniques in physical activity and health.

Indicative content:

  • Theory: Effective communication, Self-awareness, Listening skills.
  • Management skills: Practicalities of management, administration and organisation of client.
  • Behaviour Change: Identify Influences on behaviour. Understanding and assessing behaviour, Individual behaviour and motivation, Determinants and factors that impact on behaviour and motivation.
  • Time management: Aspects of time management. Changing time management. Effective planning.
  • Goal setting: Identifying Goals. Developing Practical Realistic goals. Short long term goals. Achieving goals.
  • Behaviour Change models: Models of behaviour change. Social cognitive theory, relapse prevention model, ecological theories of behaviour, stages of readiness. Moderator’s mediators of change. Behaviour change process.
  • Promoting Adherence: Self efficacy. Social Support. Behaviour change skills, Impact of habitual behaviour, Factors that affect adherence. Overcoming barriers.

Year 4 Option Modules

You must study and pass two option modules, one from Group [A] and one from Group [B]. If you didn’t take the Work Placement module in year 3, you must make the Career Placement module in Group [A] one of your choices.

Brief description

A work placement within a prospective work environment to expand your knowledge and understanding of your subject and its applications within a real-life setting. 

Module content:

  • Career pathways: Reflect on your prospective career path and evaluate your subject-based and transferable skills, identifying strengths and limitations to address to enhance your career progression.
  • Understanding the prospective work environment and organisation: Identify appropriate organisations and opportunities for enhancing you own continued professional development. Engage in organising an appropriate work placement. Be guided by staff but lead the process to find and apply for appropriate employment.
  • Work placement: Undergo an appropriate programme within a prospective work environment to enhance your ability to progress within your selected career pathway.

Brief description

Pursue a topic of interest, different from any other work either submitted or proposed relevant to your selected pathway. Manage your own learning and set agreed objectives.

Indicative content:

  • General: Content will depend on individual learning outcomes agreed.

Brief description

One of the most important aspects of sport is the people involved, whether they are taking part, coaching, administering, volunteering or involved in some other capacity. The Sport Duty of Care Review raised questions about whether the wellbeing and welfare of people are being put at the centre of what sport does and delivers. 

Indicative content:

  • Safeguarding: What more could be done to strengthen sport’s position in relation to the protection of young people and adults at all levels of sport.
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Specific aspects of duty of care with relevance to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Injuries: How the likelihood of injury can be lessened and whether improvements can be made to how sporting injuries are treated in the short and long term.
  • Career transitions: The support people receive as they transition through the sport system, including entering and leaving top-level sport.
  • Mental health: Issues relating to the prevention, identification and management of mental health issues in sportspeople.
  • Education: How sportspeople can be supported to help them balance education with their sporting activities.
  • Representation of the participant’s voice: How the views of sportspeople are considered in decisions affecting them in sport.

Brief description

The professionalism and development of coaching and learning using an evidence-based approach contextualised to real world examples. The issues of professionalism in education and teaching and the different approaches to the development of those responsible for expertise in athletes and other learners.

Indicative content:

  • The coach as a professional: The expanded roles of a professional coach. The definition of professionalism and the concepts involved in the recognition of coaching as a profession.
  • Coach education: Research−led knowledge and scientific literature and the links it has to the advice and guidance given to those leading coaching and learning. The dissemination of knowledge and the appropriateness of how it is presented.
  • National Governing Bodies: The role NGBs play in supporting coaching and learning. The increasing professionalism of the coaching process, coach education, and scientific support.
  • Volunteer culture: The volunteer culture in sports coaching within the UK and the tensions this can create with the need for legislation, licensing, and education.

Brief description

This module builds on the module, Fundamentals of Strength and Conditioning, (SPS305). Explore more advanced training methods and theory, with an emphasis on developing long-term training programmes across a diverse range of sports. Units of assessments will be closely aligned with the UKSCA assessment framework.

Indicative content:

  • Olympic Lifting: A progression from the content covered in SPS305, practical competency and technical knowledge of the Clean and Jerk/ Snatch exercises and their variations.
  • Recovery exercise: The mechanisms involved in fatigue and recovery during and after exercise.
  • Assessment of Strength and Power: Issues in strength and power assessment, specific laboratory based and field based protocols, designing testing batteries.
  • Speed, Agility and Plyometric exercise: Follow on from material covered in SPS305, with emphasis on advanced programme design and interpretation of the scientific literature.
  • Performance analysis: Identifying main physiological and biomechanical requirements of various sports and designing appropriate conditioning interventions.
  • Practical applications: Methods of dealing with a range of practical scenarios in strength and conditioning.
  • Interpretation and dissemination of information: How to interpret scientific data and articles and be able to disseminate findings to a range of populations (e.g. coaches, athletes).

Brief description

Build on the foundational theoretical knowledge of sport and exercise psychology and address advanced and contemporary topics for a more in−depth and current perspective of theory and research in the field.

Indicative content:

  • Motivation and emotion: e.g. self−determination, stress appraisals and coping, burnout, mind-sets.
  • Cognitive sport psychology: e.g. attentional processes, reinvestment theory.
  • Sport, exercise psychology and health: e.g. exercise dependence and addiction; psychology and injury; PA, sedentary behaviours and psychosocial health.
  • Social sport and exercise psychology: e.g. the physical self, communication, coach−athlete relationship.

How the Course Works


Learning and Assessment

All teaching on this programme is underpinned by research, and there’s a strong emphasis on links with industry, including opportunities for placements and internships. This gives you the chance to work and network within various exercise and health industries and work towards achieving awards.

You’ll learn through a mixture of lectures, practical laboratory classes, seminars/tutorials and independent study.

The practical lab classes offer the chance to learn relevant scientific techniques first hand, and provide an opportunity to engage in research by designing experiments and collecting and analysing data.

The assessment strategy is aimed at developing a variety of skills that are valued by employers. The vast majority of the assessment is by innovative, coursework-related submissions, such as lab reports, essays, oral and poster presentations, portfolios, reflective logs and practical tests.

Exams form only a small percentage of the overall assessment. This is approximately 15%.

Entry Requirements

Please note: All new entrants are required to undertake a criminal records check (PVG) at the point of entry to the programme. 

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses.

Republic of Ireland applicants, click on the UK tabs and scroll down to find your Entry Requirements.

See information about studying and applying to Abertay for International students.

Years 1 or 2 Entry to year 1 or 2 of this programme is through the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise programme, which will allow you to progress to this programme at the end of Year 2.

QualificationGrade RequirementsEssential Subjects
HND-Our Entry from College pages list approved HND courses
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Support for Ukrainian students

We're keen to offer help to Ukrainian students who may wish to transfer from their existing institution in Ukraine or to register with us as new students for intake in September. There will be no tuition fees charged for the duration of the degree programme, as those with refugee status are treated as ‘Home/Scottish’ students and will also have access to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland bursary and student loans. Our Recruitment Team can help guide applicants.


Not sure if you're eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

If you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either ...

  • been in care
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university
  • attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university

... we encourage you to submit an application.

Fees and funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you depends on factors such as your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. 

More information

Find out about grants, bursaries, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs in our undergraduate fees and funding section.



We offer a range of scholarships to help support your studies with us.

As well as Abertay scholarships for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and international students, there are a range of corporate and philanthropic scholarships available. Some are course specific, many are not. There are some listed below or you can visit the Undergraduate scholarship pages.

View all

Abertay RUK Scholarship: Science and Social Science

A scholarship for prospective undergraduate Science and Social Science students applying from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Abertay International Scholarship

This is an award of up to £12,000 for prospective international undergraduate students.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £1,000 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.


Graduates from this programme are well equipped to obtain employment in roles such as active schools and physical activity coordinators, health promotion workers in a community setting, and lifestyle analysts in gyms.

This programme will also help develop valuable transferable skills, which will prepare you to take on a variety of professional challenges across diverse working environments.

In addition, you’ll have acquired the necessary knowledge and expertise to pursue postgraduate studies in a related area.

Group of people wearing sports clothes, standing in a gym hall

Industry Links

You’ll have the opportunity to develop links with various sports industries and work towards achieving awards through this. Work placements that are embedded in the curriculum are an integral part of this process.

Our staff have strong research links and many are members of professional societies. There are good links between Division of Sport and Exercise Science staff and industry, and many staff are also current practitioners.

Female wearing breathing apparatus - male operating the breathing equipment

Get inspired

Meet some of our Physical Activity and Health graduates and find out what they've gone on to do.

A picture of Louise Johnstone smiling.

Louise Johnstone

Louise is Owner of Louise's PT 4 U.

Find out more

A picture of Alison Chapman standing beside a swimming pool.

Alison Chapman

Alison is a Special Education Teacher at Al Karamah School in Abu Dhabi.

Find out more


Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).

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