Sport and Exercise Science

Study for a university Honours degree in sport and exercise science.

1st in Scotland for Sport and Education
The Times Good University Guide and The Complete University Guide.
This course achieved 91% student satisfaction in the most recent National Student Survey.

How do sport, exercise and physical activity benefit health and wellbeing? How do our body systems respond to acute exercise and adapt to training? What factors influence our participation in physical activity and ability to benefit from it? This course explores these issues by studying the body’s systems, their regulation and the effects of exercise.

First and foremost we aim to develop you as a scientist and then we explore sport and exercise. You’ll study biological sciences such as cell biology, genetics and molecular biology alongside sport and exercise physiology, nutrition, and sport and exercise psychology. This gives you knowledge of the disciplines underpinning Sport and Exercise Science, develops your knowledge of scientific methods and provides a basis for understanding the role of exercise in improving health and athletic performance.

You will be taught by international research leaders in their areas of expertise in sports nutrition, exercise physiology, genetics and epigenetics, molecular biology, neuromuscular control, as well as muscle metabolism in health and disease.

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

Essential subjects:
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.

Other qualifications

Year one minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Year 2 entry may be possible with HND in a Science based subject.
For information on accepted courses please consult our Advanced Entry pages.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), Intermediate 2, GCSE (C) or equivalent required.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Science, Computing and Engineering to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).

Course contact

Dr Ian Walshe Health and Exercise Sciences Research Group
School of Sport
University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 466489

Course Director

Dr Naomi Brooks

Find out more

Degree course

Teaching is delivered in eight semesters, with an extensive research project conducted in the final year. A wide variety of project topics is available and reflects the active research interests of the academic staff contributing to this degree course.

In Year 1, you will gain a strong grounding in biological science and an introduction to the study of sport and exercise, with further outline modules in cell biology, physiology and sports studies.  Both field and laboratory skills will also be introduced into the year.

Year 2 considers issues and concepts of sports studies and the psychology of sport, examining the relationship between stress and sport performance.  You will also further develop your knowledge and skills in biological science and sport and exercise sciences.  Subjects such as human anatomy and physiology, genetics and evolution are studied.  Statistical Techniques are taught, learning how to analyse scientific data sets.

Further advanced level modules are delivered in Year 3, studying areas such as the physiology of sport and exercise which considers adaptations to exercise training and the challenges of environmental extremes.  Animal cell biology looks at the basic components of animal cells, their functions and how these functions are regulated in health and disease.

Understanding exercise and diet in developing a healthy lifestyle is also explored during Year 3, considering medical issues which affect physical activity.  Applied exercise physiology is a practical module studied in the laboratory and psychology of exercise considers the factors which influence a person’s decision to exercise.

The Honours year offers further modules in proteomics and molecular techniques as well as discovering the techniques and methodological assumptions underpinning sport and exercise science research.  Students examine and learn how to critically analyse research, before undertaking a research project in the final semester.


Module titles

Year 1

  • Introduction to Cell Biology
  • Laboratory Skills 
  • Field Skills
  • Introduction to Physiology
  • Introduction to Sports Studies I and II

Year 2

  • Sports Studies Issues and Concepts
  • Evolution and Genetics
  • Psychology of Sport
  • Statistical Techniques
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

Year 3

  • Physiology of Sport and Exercise
  • Animal Physiology
  • Sports Medicine Health and Wellbeing
  • Applied Exercise Physiology
  • Animal Cell Biology
  • Psychology of Exercise Physical Activity and Health

Year 4

  • Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Science
  • Readings in Sports Studies
  • Proteomics
  • Molecular Techniques
  • Research Project in Sport and Exercise Science

Teaching and assessment

In addition to conventional lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and laboratory practical sessions, web-based technology is used to support the teaching course. Assessment is by a combination of coursework, group project work, group and individual presentations and examination.

Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, the first choice for students to study sport. Excellence is at the heart of everything we do in sport, from our innovative research (the best in Scotland) improving the health of the nation, to preparing athletes for success on the world stage.

Our scenic campus is home to a suite of sports facilities, across 310 acres, all open to students, including a 50m swimming pool, a golf course, a fitness centre, an eight-court sports hall; nine grass and artificial pitches and 10 tennis courts to name but a few.

Participating in sport couldn’t be easier, with 1,500 members of the Sports Union, which has almost 50 different clubs where you can meet new people and enjoy your sport of choice.

If performance sport is your focus, then our International Sports Scholarship Programme (ISSP) or national scholarship programme Winning Students could provide you with the funding and flexibility to compete at the highest level.

Sport and Exercise Science offers a breadth of study across two Schools. Teaching is delivered by experts in their field and enhanced by cutting edge knowledge from our researchers.

Further investment in sport, health and exercise laboratories means students can develop their skills within a world-class environment.

Study abroad

You have the opportunity to study abroad through Stirling's well-established connections with several international universities.


  • Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence

  • 1st in Scotland for sports research (most recent Research Assessment Exercise)

  • 1st in Scotland for Sport and Education (The Times Good University Guide, 2012, and The Complete University Guide, 2012)


This course is delivered jointly by the School of Sport and by the School of Natural Sciences, bringing the expertise of both to ensure an unrivalled student experience.

All courses are delivered by experts in their varied fields and the course content is shaped by the latest research.

A major benefit of the School of Sport is its integrated nature, with both academic courses and a sports development service, which manages a suite of world-class sports facilities, working together.

Stirling has recently invested in state-of-the-art sport, health and exercise science facilities and our research staff are leaders in their field.

Academic strengths

Students are able to tap into the staff expertise which spans across a wide variety of sport and exercise science subjects.

Research and teaching staff work side-by-side, sharing their knowledge with one another and imparting this knowledge to students through seminars and lectures.

This ensures students develop a wide skills-set, developing scientific enquiry and critical evaluation, essential in the modern workplace.

Our students

Photograph of Ryan Bennett‌Ryan is an international swimmer and currently studying BSc. Sport and Exercise Science.  He represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, reaching the finals in the 200m backstroke and 4 x 100m medley relay.  Ryan made the move to the University of Stirling to study and train on campus at the National Swimming Academy.  He is supported by the Winning Students Sports Scholarship Programme.

“I have enjoyed every year of my course at Stirling, I’ve found it interesting and it has given me the insight to train smarter and understand how to manipulate and improve the key energy systems required for my events.  I’ve found that the lecturers involved in this degree programme appreciate hard workers and will go out of their way to support you.”    

“The University has supported me when I have been away on training camps so that I don't miss crucial training phases like altitude training.  During the Commonwealth Games I was able to focus on competition in the final phase of my preparation, due to the support provided to me.”

Ryan Bennett BSc. (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science


Our Staff

The Health & Exercise Sciences Research Group has grown substantially over the last few years.  Recent investment in personnel and facilities provides a broad strength in depth allowing interests and research in areas ranging from molecular biology to whole body metabolism. Our research investigates strategies for increasing muscle anabolism in athletes and exercising individuals; nutrition and exercise training effects on muscle metabolism in health and disease, response to physical activity including genetic and epigenetic responses, molecular biology and assessment of neuromuscular control in clinical and athletic populations. 


94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

Careers in the sport sector account for around three percent of all jobs in Scotland according to a recent study by Cambridge Econometrics. 

Graduates have gone on to postgraduate study, research, jobs in the sport and leisure sector such as in sports development, sports science support of athletes, health and fitness monitoring, physical activity promotion, and coaching, as well as into the teaching profession and other disciplines such as physiotherapy and commissioned officers in the armed forces.

Employers who have benefitted from Stirling graduate expertise include local authorities, commercial and voluntary sport organisations and governing bodies of sport.

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,760.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,425.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Sport and Exercise Science
  • Degree award BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS Code CC61
  • Type Campus based, Full-time
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