• General Information
  • Course Structure
  • Entry Requirements
  • Career Prospects
  • FAQ
  • Profiles

LM089 - Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Sciences

Course Details

Course Code: LM089

Level: Honours Bachelor Degree
Length: 4 Years
CAO Minimum Points Entry 2013: 480
Course Leader: Ciaran MacDonncha
Phone: 00 353 61 213162


Tel: 00 353 61 202015

The Student Experience

Course Description

The Graduate Experience

Why Study Sport and Exercise Sciences at UL?

This programme will give you an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the key elements of sport, exercise, health and physical activity from the perspective of the sciences. Throughout the programme, you will study the science behind safe participation and effective performance in physical activity and sport.

The application of science plays a major role in the preparation of the modern sports performer. For example, tests have been devised to assess various aspects of performance. The effects of training methods on the physiological systems of the body for improving strength, speed, endurance, skill and how to perform under stress are constantly being investigated and improved upon by sport scientists.

The application of science however is not confined to elite performers. It is well recognised that lack of exercise or physical activity plays a major role in many diseases that afflict us e.g. cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers. In addition to improving performers, sport and exercise scientists are also engaged in examining the effects of various types of exercise programmes and activities on health and also on the treatment and prevention of disease by means of physical activity. They are also concerned with the psychological benefits of exercise and with how to motivate people to become frequent and regular exercisers.

Course Structure

The Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Sciences is a four-year programme which includes an eight-month period of work experience (Cooperative Education) in relevant work placements during the third year.

The first year of the course is a foundation year in which a sound understanding of basic mathematics, physics, anatomy, systems physiology and psychology is gained, leading to an introduction to each of the core disciplines of exercise physiology, biomechanics and psychology. A deeper and more detailed study of these core disciplines will take place in years 2, 3 and 4.

Laboratory experience is an integral part of each of these core areas of study where you will test concepts and theories and acquire laboratory and research skills. In the first two years, you will study and experience selected sports and modes of exercise and training. Here, you will have an opportunity to improve personal performance and prepare for coaching awards and certification. In second year an elective subject is selected and you will take two modules in either Law or Computer Science. You will undertake a project in your final year on a topic related to an aspect of sports science.

Year 1 Semester 1 Semester 2 Summer
SS4401 Coaching Science & Performance 1 SS4402 Exercise & Health Fitness
SS4302 Anatomy and Kinesiology SS4304 Introduction to Basic Biomechanics
SS4202 Introduction to the Major Physiological Systems SS4102 Psychological Foundations of Sport and Exercise
MA4601 Science Maths 1 CS4911 Introduction to Information Technology
PH4101 Physics 1 (Mechanics) BC4002 Introductory Biochemistry

Year 2 Semester 3 Semester 4 Summer
SS4403 Coaching Science & Performance 2 SS4404 Coaching Science & Performance 3
SS4312 Qualitative Biomechanical Analysis SS4405 Sports Injuries
SS4203 Physiology of Muscle in Movement SS4204 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Response to Exercise
MA4603 Science Maths 3 SS4103 Psychology of Movement:
Development from Infancy to Adolescence
Option From Option From
LA4901 Principles of Law LA4922 Sport and the Law
CS4913 Business Information Systems CS4925 Business Information Technology 1

Year 3 Semester 5 Semester 6 Summer
SS4305 Quantitative Biomechanical Analysis Cooperative Education
SS4205 Nutrition,Exercise Metabolism and
Sports Performance
SS4105 Analysis of Motor Skill Performance
& Learning
SS4035 Fundamental Concepts of Human Research & their Application

Year 4 Semester 7 Semester 8 Summer
SS4417 Human Performance Evaluation SS4078 SES Project B
SS4308 Advanced Biomechanical Analysis SS4318 Novel Methods in Biomechanics
SS4217 Exercise and Health 1 SS4418 Clinical Applications of Exercise
SS4127 Applied Exercise and Health SS4128 Applied Sport Psychology
SS4027 Advanced Concepts of Human
Research & SES Project A

Entry Requirements

Applicants are required to hold at the time of enrolment the established Leaving Certificate (or an approved equivalent) with at least Grade C3 in two Higher Level subjects and Grade D3 in four Ordinary or Higher Level subjects (including Mathematics; Irish or another language; and English).

In addition, applicants are required to hold at least the following in the Leaving Certificate, or an approved equivalent: Grade B3 in an Ordinary Level paper (Grade D3 in Higher Level also suffices) in any one of the following: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Physics with Chemistry, Agricultural Science, Biology.

While a high level of sports performance and achievement is not required, it is essential that you should like science, along with sport, exercise and physical activity.

We welcome applications from mature students. Mature applicants must apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February.

Applicants are required to undertake the Mature Students Admissions Pathway (MSAP) test.  There is one sitting of the test annually. Further details, including test date and test centres, are available from

Career Prospects

Careers open to you with a degree in SES include;

  • Sports Scientist
  • Outdoor Pursuits Instructor
  • Sports Coach/Instructor
  • Sport Psychologist

The following are some of the areas that graduates have gone to:

  • Sport science advisors, performance analysts, strength & conditioning coaches, fitness coordinators, sport development officers and sport administrators with organisations like the Sports Council, IRFU, GAA, FAI, Swim Ireland and Basketball Ireland
  • Health Promotion and Research Officers with the Health Service
  • Sports media/journalism including print and television
  • Consultants in sport performance, health and fitness
  • Biomedical science, biomedical engineering, ergonomics, medical physics
  • Lecturing and researching in the areas of sport, exercise science, health science and other related fields
  • Research and marketing with sport and exercise manufacturing industry, e.g. equipment, food, drink, clothing, footwear
  • Others are working very successfully outside sport. Employers recognise that having obtained a good degree in SES, graduates have skills and abilities that can be applied in other fields after undergoing appropriate training.

Follow-On Study

Related postgraduate courses might include Taught MSc degrees in areas like;

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech & Language Therapy
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Medical Physics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Sport & Exercise Psychology
  • Teacher Education

Postgraduate research training in areas such as exercise physiology, genetics and exercise, diabetes and exercise, osteoporosis, muscle repair, growth factors, biomechanics and psychology of physical activity at UL and at other universities in Ireland, UK, Australia, Canada and USA.

Want to find out more about possible careers with this degree? Click Here


  1. What are the mature student entry requirements for entry to the BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences? How many places are there for mature students?

You must be at least 23 or older by 1st January in the year in which you wish to start your study, to be considered a mature student applicant. To submit an application for consideration as a mature student, the following steps must be completed:

1. Apply to the CAO by 1st February 2014 (The CAO will open in November 2013 for 2014 applications).

2. Complete a UL Supplemental Form (this form will be available for download from the Admissions Office or contact T:061-202015 / for a hard copy). This form must be posted to the CAO (NOT to UL) by 1st February 2014. The supplemental form provides the additional information required by UL to allow the application to be assessed. Applications from mature students will not be considered where the Supplemental Form has not been submitted.

3. All other supporting documentation evidencing qualification, courses, employment, and any personal statements, essays or other documentation, must also be posted to the CAO by 1st February 2014.

Late applications may be accepted for some courses up until 1st May 2014. Please contact the Admissions Office for details of any of these courses. Feel free to contact either the Admissions Office (T:061-202015 / or the Mature Student Office (T:061-202735 / for further details on the mature student application process.

Further info available at

The number of mature students taken each year varies pending on the quality and number of applications; it can range from 8 - 12.



  1. If I have completed a PLC course in health/sport related subjects can I get exemptions to pursue the BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences?


There are no exemptions for PLC programmes.


3. What is the level of Maths and Physics on the course?

Once you have the minimum requirement (at leaving cert B3 in ordinary or D3 in higher) you will be able to handle the maths modules.  There is also a Maths Learning centre here where you can get extra tuition for free if needed.  

There is quite a number of students who come to the Sport and Exercise Sciences programme without Physics in their leaving cert and they manage very well.  Again, there is a Science Learning centre which provides free tuition.


Does the BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences offer a foundation for health and nutritional study with sport and exercise?


Yes there is a focus on nutrition for sport, a specific module is dedicated to this, also it is a key strand which runs throughout the programme.



  1. Is there any sport scholarship programmes set up to assist students with points?


All scholarships are listed on the Admissions web page.  Links as follows:,_Scholarships_and_Prizes




5. Entry to Physical Education



Can a graduate of the BSc in Sports and Exercise Science (LM-089) gain entry to the Professional Masters of Education - Physical Education Teaching

After the degree it is possible to do a Professional Masters of Education - Physical Education Teaching at UL to become a Physical Education teacher; however a number of challenges exist. 

The only programme in Ireland that has gained Teaching Council approval as a preparatory course for the Professional Masters of Education - Physical Education Teaching is IT Tralee. The Sport and Exercise Science courses do not contain the content knowledge, applied and theoretical, to teach physical education across both the junior and the senior cycle in schools.  Since the Professional Masters of Education is strictly a pedagogy course it assumes/requires that students come in with this knowledge.

You apply to both the Teaching Council in Athlone (part of the Department of Education) and UL to gain entry to the Professional Diploma.  UL will hold interviews regarding suitability and the Teaching Council will identify practical areas such as dance, gymnastics and aquatics.  These can be made up at UL or at other institutions such as UCC.  However these can only be offered if the student has been offered a place on the course.

With the new Teaching Council guidelines this requires students to make up the missing modules the year prior to starting the course and with the Professional Diploma now 2-years it will take students 3 years in total to be certified to teach physical education.


6. Can I go on to study physiotherapy after studying the BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences? Where would I have to pursue this and how many years would it take it after you have this course done?

It is important to note that MSc courses in physiotherapy are specially designed for graduates in other disciplines. Admission to these courses is not automatic. In addition to getting a good honours degree candidates must usually pass an interview.


Entry to Physiotherapy training and sports rehabilitation with two year taught MSc programmes at universities in UK is possible. e.g. University of Edinburgh, University of Middlesbrough, University of Southampton, University of Salford, King’s College London, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Brighton, Robert Gordon Univ., Aberdeen.


7.  Do I have to take up a sport if I am studying Sport and Exercise Sciences?

No, you would not have to take up a sport.  In two of the sport performance modules you do study and learn about a sport (e.g. athletics, Gaelic football, hurling/camogie, rugby, hockey) and in some cases there is an opportunity to get a certificate but you do not have to take up a sport.  Many of the students do play sports (some at the highest levels) but some do not.  A main criterion for the degree programme is that you like or have an interest in sport and/or exercise and that you also have a liking for science.  You do not have to be outstanding in either sport or science but you must not dislike either. 

The core science subjects that are studied in the programme are Exercise Physiology, Biomechanics and Psychology.   Physics and Maths are a preparation for these.  A feature of the programme is the number of laboratory sessions, hands on experience and project work that you get which greatly helps understanding and applications.


8. International students – applying for the BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences

General Information, Applying to UL, Eligibility/Entry Requirements, Application Process, Admissions and Accommodation can be found at this web address:


9. Career Opportunities

What are my career options after completing the course? 

The degree programme in sport and exercise sciences prepares students for careers in a wide variety of areas in sport, exercise and health and also other related areas. Careers range from involvement in sport at elite level to sport and exercise for health and from high level research to practical work in the field.

A number of graduates hold key positions in the national governing bodies of sport, the Irish Sports Council and the Irish Institute of Sport. Sport and Exercise Sciences graduates also have the skills and knowledge to enter taught MSc programmes to become specifically trained in areas such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, teaching, biomedical science, biomedical engineering and information technology.

Many of our graduates enter postgraduate research and have careers as researchers and lecturers at third level institutions. Many have their own consultancy businesses. Others are using the skills and knowledge gained in the programme to work very successfully outside the sport & exercise science field.


Below are some examples of what our graduates are doing.


Quotes from some SPORT AND EXERCISE SCIENCES graduates: 

 “With a sport and exercise science degree from UL there are so many different options out there. The world is your oyster and the degree provides a good first stepping stone to lots of career options as is evident by the breadth of jobs we are all doing now.  Also, these options do not necessarily mean you have to do an MSc or PhD.”

Denise Linnane, SES graduate, 1997 -  Occupational Physiologist

 “Having experienced a number of university courses to date and spoken with a number of people who teach at other universities, it is clear that the sport and exercise science undergraduate course at UL is of great quality. Not only did we cover a great number of topics in our undergraduate course, but we also developed many skills in independent study projects.  I can honestly say that the students I now teach at university would not enjoy such responsibility or maintain such high standards.”

Paul McCarthy, SES graduate 2000. Now Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology, Department of Psychology, Glasgow Caledonian University


I wanted to pursue a career in sport and exercise science.  The degree offered by UL appealed to me because it teaches a broad range of skills resulting in many possible career opportunities not only in sport science but also in health and nutrition.”

Eoin Doyle, SES graduate, 2007. Consultant biomechanist


"I really enjoyed studying sport and exercise sciences at UL. Not only did I find it an ideal place for learning, but the work experience placement gave me a great opportunity to further explore the area which I wanted to pursue. Speaking from my own experience, any graduate, after 4 years of studying this course, is equipped with a huge variety skills and knowledge that can be applied to countless health related or sport and exercise settings".

Joseph McGinley, SES graduate 2010.  Munster Rugby Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach and Fitness Advisor.


Advice from SES graduates to school goers considering choosing Sport and Exercise Sciences

"Try and find out the various career paths that a degree in sport and exercise sciences can offer. Focus on your core sciences if you can. Keep trying to apply this knowledge if you can i.e. ask the what ifs!!” 

Brian Cunniffe, SES graduate, 2003.  Sport Scientist for the British & Irish Lions rugby team tour to Australia, 2013. Formerly senior sport scientist with the British Olympic Association; now with the English Institute of Sport


"The degree is an excellent basic science degree and offers a wealth of different career opportunities. I was particularly interested in biomechanics and its clinical/medical application and chose a career in biomedical engineering and clinical research….” 

Olive O’Driscoll  (SES graduate, 1999)Technical Project Manager, Medical Engineering Design and Innovation Centre, Cork Institute of Technology).


It is a thoroughly enjoyable science degree that equips you with a multi-disciplinary skill set in the sports and exercise arena. Whether you are interested in elite sport or exercise for clinical populations there is much to be gained. Do not listen to those who say there are no jobs. There are plenty for those who work hard.  It has the perfect blend of theoretical and practical activities.” 

Peter Francis SES graduate, 2009, Lecturer in Sport Science at St Mark and St John University College, Plymouth


Go in with an open mind. The undergraduate degree provides a very good grounding and base knowledge in 3 varied disciplines (physiology, biomechanics and psychology), which prepares you to specialise in one area with further study. If you are unsure of what exact career path you want to follow but know you want to work in a health/exercise environment with a varied population the Sport and Exercise Science degree opens options for future career paths.”

Aine Lyng (SES graduate 2010) Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Oxford University Hospitals NHS.


Remember that Sport and Exercise Science is first and foremost a degree in science.  So while it is important to be interested in sport and physical activity, you will also need to have a good head for the sciences, be creative and innovative, and enjoy working as part of a team”. 

Toni Rossiter (SES graduate, 2002) Performance Physiologist, Irish Institute of Sport.


Examples of Careers

  • Irish Institute of Sport: Head of Performance Support Services; Performance Analyst; Performance Physiologist
  • Irish Sports Council:  Head of Education and Research  in Anti-doping Unit; Head of Sport Partnerships; Local Co-ordinators of the Sports Partnerships around the country)
  • Coaching Ireland [Formerly National Coaching and Training Centre (NCTC)]: coach education staff and coach education development staff
  • GAA: National Games Development manager, Nat. Education officer., Regional development officers
  • IRFU: Head of fitness for Irish team; IRFU Academy Strength and Conditioning Coordinator; a number of graduates hold key positions in both the academies and senior squads of Munster, Leinster and Connaught Rugby
  • Development officers or fitness  coaches/co-ordinators, education managers with the  FAI, Basketball Ireland, Swim Ireland, Badminton Union of Ireland, Pitch & Putt Union of Ireland
  • Also abroad e.g. Senior Sport Scientist with British Olympic Association; Sport Scientist with British & Irish Lions tour to Australia 2013;UK Athletics (Head of strength & conditioning), West Coast Eagles (Australia); Collingwood FC (Australia), Cardiff City FC (performance analyst); (Blackburn Rovers FC (sport science support staff); Liverpool FC (sport science support);  Manchester City (Sport Scientist); Queens park Rangers (Sport Scientist); West Bromwich Albion (Sport Scientist) Sports Institute of Northern Ireland (strength &  conditioning for elite performers); Scottish Rugby Academy (strength & conditioning coaches). Welsh Rugby Union (The Nat Academy Strength & conditioning coach)
  • Occupational Physiologist, researcher and consultant on performing in extreme climates & environments.  Clients include Army, RAF, Williams Formula 1, South Pole explorers.
  • Special Olympics Ireland; Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) National coaching & education officer.
  • Lecturing and researching at third level institutes (ITs) usually after acquiring a master’s degree.
  • Lecturing and researching at Universities in Ireland, UK, Denmark, Canada, USA.
  • Sports journalists with radio and print media either on graduation or having obtained a post grad qualification in Computer Science or in Journalism.
  •  Scientific writers with publishing companies.
  • Some have set up their own businesses as sport consultants and/or exercise/fitness consultants; personal trainers.
  • Running a GP referral scheme sponsored by the Mid-Western Health Board, which is being carried out in conjunction with the University of Limerick where doctors refer patients who need exercise programmes. 
  • Health Service Executive (HSE):   Researchers, Information officers, Health promotion officers.
  • Entry to Physiotherapy taught MSc at UCD.  Entry to Physiotherapy training and sports rehabilitation with two year taught MSc programmes at universities in UK  e.g. University of Edinburgh, University of Middlesbrough, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Southampton,  University of  Salford, King’s College London, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Brighton, Robert Gordon Univ., Aberdeen.    It is important to note that these MSc courses in physiotherapy are specially designed for graduates in other disciplines. Admission to these courses is not automatic.  In addition to getting a good honours degree candidates must usually pass an interview.  Having completed MSc courses a number are practising as physiotherapists in hospitals, private practice and clinics, including sports injuries clinics in Ireland and UK.  Others interested in physiotherapy have obtained entry to shortened (Yr 1 exemption) physiotherapy courses for graduates at RCSI and TCD.   Entry is competitive with a good honours degree required and passing of an interview.                                 
  • Occupational therapy and speech and language therapy at graduate entry level for MSc at UL and at universities in UK.  In all cases a good honours degree is required and passing of an interview may be required.
  • Graduate entry medical school (UL, UCD).
  • Primary school teaching.  A number have gained entry to graduate teacher training programmes for primary schools.  These are shortened programmes for graduates and entry is by interview.
  • Physical Education teaching. Qualification can be obtained in UK with postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).  Places may be available at UL on the Professional Diploma in Education (Physical Education).

Note that all qualifications for entry are subject to approval by the Teaching Council of Ireland. The Professional Diploma in Education (PE) at UL has a limited number of places and applicants come from a variety of relevant degree programmes.  Entry is competitive and is subject to passing an interview at UL and completing some prerequisite PE modules as determined by the Teaching Council.  For further information see Faculty of Education and Health Sciences website                                                                                                                                                 

  • Post graduate training (taught MSc) in sports nutrition (e.g. University of Aberdeen, University of Loughborough), Ergonomics (e.g. NUIG) and Health Promotion (NUIG), Computer Science (UL and other universities)
  • Computer analysts having obtained graduate diplomas/masters in computer science especially designed for graduates in various disciplines other than computer science
  • Post graduate training (taught MSc programmes) in courses designed for graduates in various scientific fields, including sport and exercise sciences, who have obtained good honours degrees and have the necessary prerequisites from their undergraduate degree programmes e.g.  Biomedical Science, Biomedical Engineering, Medical Physics, Ergonomics, Information Technology, Exercise Physiology, Cardiac Rehabilitation, Clinical Physiology, Gerontology
  • Post graduate research (MSc/PhD) in various areas including osteoporosis & exercise, obesity, muscle repair, cryotherapy, growth factors and exercise, sport psychology, motor skill  development  in children,  developmental co-ordination disorder, exercise and fitness in children, exercise and cognition in older people, at  UL and at other Universities in Ireland, UK, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and USA.
  • Research scientists with biomedical companies
  • Others are working very successfully outside the sport & exercise science and related fields such as in public relations, finance, business, marketing, information technology, accountancy and banking.  Here employers recognise that having obtained a good degree SES graduates have skills and abilities that can be applied in other fields after undergoing appropriate training.

Student Profile

Aimee McInerney
This is a challenging degree. You will gain extensive knowledge in areas such as elite performance, coaching strategies and exercise prescription. For me, the most enjoyable aspect is the practical elements offered throughout each year. There are opportunities to work with athletes in coaching environments and to conduct a psychological needs assessment on an athlete. The facilities here at UL are great. It has everything you could ask for.

For my co-op placement, I went to the PEAK Centre for Human Performance in Ottawa, Canada. I worked with several clients and trained them to reach their specific goals. I had to test them, provide consultations, design monthly strength and conditioning programmes and offer a personal training service over three months. My clients included a marathon runner, iron man competitor, swimmer, and a figure skater. It was an amazing experience to work with sports people at both elite and recreational level. Also, the chance to explore a different country was amazing. Canada was one of the best experiences of my life.

UL's Privacy Policy | Disclaimer