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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education and Sport : Education

Postgraduate Course: Psychology of Physical Activity (SPRT11002)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education and Sport CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe physical health benefits of physical activity are well-established. However, a substantial proportion of the population are still inactive, and psychology has a role to play in understanding and changing behaviour. The aim of this course is to examine the psychological determinants and consequences of physical activity. Specifically, the course will draw from current psychological theory and critically examine its contribution to understanding physical activity behaviour. Additionally, the course will consider the relationship between physical activity and mental health. Lecture material will be supplemented with practical activities and seminars. This course will be taught by staff who are members of the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC:
Course description Taught from a social-ecological perspective to understanding physical activity behaviour, the first half of the course will consider in detail key motivational theories to behaviour change (e.g., Self-Determination theory) and also consider current developments relating to behaviour change techniques. The second half of the course will focus on the psychological consequences of being physically active, such as influence on mood and mental illness. Throughout the course we will draw from recent research and consider application to practice.

It is likely that the course will include sessions on:
Understanding understanding psychological perspectives to physical activity
Theoretical perspectives on physical activity behaviour
A role for behaviour change techniques in physical activity?
Using theory to enhance practice (exercise consultations/motivational interviewing)
Physical activity and mental health

Students will be encouraged to actively participate in interactive discussions and learning activities. Students will be set tasks to guide their reading and engagement with the material. Assignments will further facilitate consideration of the lecture material and how it relates to additional research papers and application. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with PAHRC-led research activities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements No specific pre-requisites are required but please contact course organiser to discuss suitability
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesNo specific pre-requisites are required but please contact course organiser to discuss suitability
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Total mark for the course will be a weighted average of the two pieces of written coursework.
Feedback Students will be provided with detailed individual and cohort feedback on their first assessed written assignment. This formative feedback should be used to inform the second assignment, and students are specifically asked to detail their 'Action on Prior Feedback' on the cover sheet of their second assignment. In class feedback will be provided on initial progress on assignment 2, and detailed summative individual and cohort feedback will be provided for the second assignment
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain and evaluate the psychological determinants for participation and non-participation in physical activity and critically evaluate how these relate to an ecological model of physical activity behaviour
  2. Demonstrate critical understanding of the consequences of physical activity on psychological health
  3. Examine how psychology is related to current public health physical activity agendas
  4. Reflect on how knowledge acquired relates to own personal and work experiences
Learning Resources
Key references for this course include:
Biddle, S. J. H., Mutrie, N., & Gorely, T. (2015). Psychology of physical activity. 3rd edition. London: Routledge

Roberts, G. C., & Treasure, D. C. (Eds) (2012). Advances in motivation in sport and exercise. (3rd ed). Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics,

Faulkner, G. & Taylor, A. (2005). Exercise, health and mental health: Emerging relationships, London: Routledge.

Specific readings from various journals including Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Preventive Medicine, International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills During this course students will have the opportunity to practice and develop their ability to:

1) Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to forefront psychological issues in physical activity.
2) Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in the psychology of physical activity.
3) Communicate with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.
4) Undertake critical evaluations of numerical research data
5) Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in professional and equivalent activities.
6) Take responsibility for own work
Special Arrangements We welcome students from outside the MSc Physical Activity for Health programme, but students should first contact the course organiser to determine suitability.
Keywordsphysical activity,psychology,exercise,mental health,public health,medicine
Course organiserDr Ailsa Niven
Tel: (0131 6)51 6679
Course secretaryMr George Adams
Tel: (0131 6)51 6206
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