Clinical Exercise Science MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Clinical exercise student using immersion pool
Mode of Study
Part-time, Full-time
Up to 1 year full-time, Up to 2 years part-time
Start Date
September 2019


Patients with long-term health conditions can improve their quality of life through safe and effective activity and fitness programmes. Our Clinical Exercise degree course, offered as an MSc, PgDip and PgCert, will teach you the skills required to create these sort of programmes, and prepare you for a career as a Clinical Exercise Specialist.

On this course, you'll learn to tackle poor dietary habits, high-stress, and sedentary living, through personalised exercise training. You'll apply your knowledge to help people with long-term conditions, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

With professional qualifications, skills and experience, you'll be set for a career providing fitness and exercise training in clinical settings.

Professional accreditations

The programme provides an opportunity to work toward ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification and units aligned to National Occupation Standards for Health and Fitness.

The course is recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) to provide Level 2 Fitness Instructing (gym-based exercise) and Level 3 Exercise Referral, which is the independent public register for qualified professionals and endorsed by PD: Approval.

Membership of a body such as REPs is a requirement of the UKactive Code of Practice and shows employers that you have the appropriate skills to do the job. These qualifications are stepping stones towards developing a career as a Clinical Exercise Scientist or Physiologist.

The programme provides an opportunity to get REPs recognised specialist exercise instructor qualifications and to get experience to work toward ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification.

You'll be able to get specialist qualifications including:

  • exercise referral
  • cardiac disease
  • chronic respiratory
  • diseases
  • stroke
  • cancer
  • falls prevention

What you'll experience

On this course, you'll:

  • Work in clinical settings and our specialist sport and exercise science laboratories
  • Develop your field skills, and learn how to devise personalised exercise training for people with different medical conditions
  • Learn to communicate with clients in a professional and approachable way
  • Work with clinicians, providing exercise in the management of long-term conditions


Careers and opportunities

When you graduate, you'll have the skills needed for a successful career in:

  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • exercise after cancer
  • exercise after stroke
  • exercise for falls prevention

You can also pursue a career as an exercise physiologist in multi-disciplinary teams, exercise entrepreneur or exercise service manager.

Some other routes our graduates have taken include:

  • Health and wellbeing physiologist
  • Bariatric exercise physiologist
  • NHS trainee clinical scientist
  • Health advisor
  • Clinical exercise physiologist
  • Exercise referral coordinator
  • Exercise therapist
  • PhD research

​What you'll study

Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

Full-time students will study 4 x 30 credit units, plus the 60-credit MSc project unit.

Part-time students will study 2 x 30 credit units each year and complete the 60 credit MSc project unit in the second year

You can also study each as a standalone short course. You can study the short courses individually and build up the credits towards either a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, or MSc. You can take up to 5 years to do this.

Units currently being studied

Core units in this year include:

  • MSc Project (MSc only)

Options to choose from in this year include:

MSc and PgDip students will choose 4 units from the above list. PgCert students will choose 2.

Changes to course content

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.

Work experience and career planning

We'll help you to identify internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in a clinical exercise role.

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

Learning support

As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques


Teaching methods on this course include:

  • seminars
  • practical workshops
  • placements

How you'll spend your time

Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and an assessment period:

  • Autumn teaching block – September to December
  • Spring teaching block – January to Easter
  • Assessment period – Easter to June

Most teaching takes place during the day, on Thursdays, Fridays and very occasionally on Saturdays. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.

How you're assessed

You'll be assessed through:

  • Vocational training (MCQ and case study)
  • Practical assessment
  • Applied essays
  • Case studies
  • Project report
  • Poster presentation

Feedback is provided both before and after assignments.

Entry requirements​

Entry Requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.
  • Applicants are subject to interview.
  • All offers are subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance and Occupational Health clearance.
  • In addition, you're required to have completed, or be in the process of acquiring, an industry-approved exercise referral qualification, such as the University of Portsmouth's Exercise Referral Course, which can be provided prior to commencing the course. Professional experience and other qualifications may be taken into consideration if you do not meet this requirement.
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.

​Course costs

Tuition fees (2019 start)


UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Full-time: £8,700
  • Part-time: £4,350 a year (subject to annual increase)
International students
  • Full-time: £13,900
  • Part-time: £6,950 a year (subject to annual increase)


UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Full-time: £5,800
  • Part-time: £2,900 a year (subject to annual increase)
International students
  • Full-time: £9,270
  • Part-time: £4,630 a year (subject to annual increase)


UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Part-time: £2,900 (subject to annual increase)
International students
  • Part-time: £4,630 (subject to annual increase)

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. 

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

You'll need to meet the associated costs for any placements. These costs may include the cost of travelling from home to placement, and will be in the region of up to £300 a year.


Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study with us, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply. 
Apply for this course using our online application form. Our courses fill up quickly, so submit your application as soon as you decide which course you want to study.