MSc Clinical Exercise Science

Postgraduate, Part-time

Clinical Exercise Science MSc

This unique practical and applied course will develop specialised knowledge of clinical exercise science


Do you want to develop expert knowledge in the science of exercise assessment and prescription? Come and study with us and develop your scientific and applied knowledge. 

The evidence demonstrating that physical activity reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes highlights the need for clinical exercise practitioners with high level knowledge of physical activity and health who can work within community and healthcare settings.

This programme offers a well-balanced blend between practice and theory. The course is multi-disciplinary in nature covering aspects of exercise physiology, exercise and health psychology, biomechanical principles as well as clinical skills.

People often ask us, what does a Clinical Exercise Scientist do? A Clinical Exercise Scientist/Specialist/Physiologist supports people who:

  • are recovering from injury, or perhaps have a prior injury they do not want to exacerbate but would like to become fitter and healthier.
  • have a chronic health condition (such as cancer, diabetes, stroke low mood, depression and anxiety, hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, obesity, osteoporosis, etc) for which exercise would be beneficial.
  • have goals around losing or maintaining a healthy weight
  • are looking for a tailored and prescribed exercise programme to meet health and wellness needs.

Here's what Natasha Bowman, a recent graduate, has to say: 

"This course provided me with many transferable skills, firstly learning and developing a knowledge around different clinical conditions like type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and cancer, and allowed me to understand customers' conditions and how it affected them on a daily basis. This information is then used to help me provide them with the right support. 

"The course also enhanced my ability to provide a more empathetic approach in my interactions. This allowed me to connect better with my customers; it promoted customer rapport and their confidence to become more independent, because they felt they could trust in me to help them."

Fitness assessment with one man kneeling on the ground and another standing above him

Mode of Study:

Part-time (available as Full-time)


2-4 years

Start date:


Everybody can move more

Course details

  • During your studies you will develop an advanced understanding of the research evidence in the context of clinical exercise science.
  • You will learn to apply theoretical concepts and professional skills in practical situations likely to be encountered by a clinical exercise scientist.
  • You will employ advanced investigative, analytical and practical techniques to advance knowledge in clinical exercise science.
  • You will present evidence-based clinical exercise prescription appropriate for a range of pathologies and in seemingly healthy populations and be able to effectively communicate evidence and treatment goals with a variety of populations.
  • You will gain enhanced knowledge and learn skills in clinical exercise science to increase employability in an academic or applied setting.

Subjects include

****Taught modules are all compulsory

Trimester 1

  • Exercise, wellbeing and psychological Health (SES11114), taught by Dr Amanda Pitkethly
  • Cardiometabolic conditions and exercise (SES111XX), taught by Dr Mel Leggate
  • Research methods in sport and exercise science (SES11116), taught by Dr Kostas Kaliarntas

Trimester 2

  • Clinical Exercise Placement (SES11127), taught by Dr Mel Leggate and Dr Amanda Pitkethly
  • Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship (SES11115), taught by Prof Anna Campbell
  • Physical Activity for Neurological Conditions (SES11111), taught by Dr Kostas Kaliarntas

Trimester 3

  • Research Project (SES11107), taught by Dr Kostas Kaliarntas

The in-depth description of the modules can be found below.

Trimester 1

Exercise, Wellbeing & Psychological Health (20 credits) - During this module, we focus on the complexity of human behaviour and support you to understand contemporary theoretical models of behaviour change and human motivation, underlying mechanisms of how activity benefits psychological health and importantly, how to apply this knowledge through a range of techniques and approaches that motivate adherence to exercise. For example, we will teach you a counselling approach, Motivational Interviewing, to ensure you can confidently have conversations that compassionately support the motivation, confidence and autonomy that people need to meet complex health goals. You will apply this knowledge to an exercise behaviour case study.

Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Science (20 credits) - In strand one, the content will cover, the philosophical basis of scientific knowledge construction, the debates around NHST and magnitude-based statistics. Mid-module, you will look at at epidemiology in more depth. The final theme will focus on applied research and the dissemination of research and assessment data to the lay audience.

Cardiometabolic conditions and exercise (20 credits) - During this module you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the underpinning influencing physiological factors that can lead to the development of a number of metabolic and cardiovascular conditions. As well as gaining an in-depth knowledge regarding the pathophysiology of cardiometabolic disease, this module will evaluate the reported health benefits of exercise/increased physical activity in populations with long term conditions including cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, obesity, renal disease and dyslipidaemia. You will develop an understanding of the concept ‘Exercise is Medicine’ and devise and develop exercise programmes for individuals at risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular conditions. 

Trimester 2

Physical Activity for Neurological Conditions (20 credits) - The current module aims to explore the role of clinical exercise for the management and prevention of common neurological conditions. In this module you will study the pathophysiology, clinical implications and reasoning, clinical exercise and prescription for common neurological diseases such as: stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy. Also, you will acquire some clinical experience through clinical placement sessions. Clinical placements will be in the form of shadowing health professionals in: acute neurology, downstream in-patient rehab, community rehab, exercise interventions delivered within Edinburgh Leisure. In this module you will also understand key concepts such as: clinical exercise and prescription, evidence based practice, clinical reasoning and risk evaluation for exercise prescription. 

Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship (20 credits) - This module is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding into a new area of research: cancer and exercise - from prevention to survivorship. You will develop a comprehensive understanding of the role that physical activity plays in primary and secondary prevention of cancer. As well as providing in-depth knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of exercise during and after cancer treatment, you will gain an insight into the most recent evidence -based benefits of exercise on many chronic and late appearing cancer treatment side effects. You will learn to assess, consult and prescribe individualised exercise programmes for cancer survivors – based on the most current research and guidelines within this area. 

Clinical Exercise Placement (20 credits) - In trimester 2, you will engage in your Clinical Exercise Placement. On placement, you will see the hypothetical and real case studies you have studied come to life. You may work in a range of environments, for example, in physical activity referral schemes, or the NHS, with GP/Physiotherapy/other specialist referrals. Through your reflective client reports, you will gain experiential learning related to exercise behaviour, testing and prescription, most with a clinical basis, where you can apply your knowledge of how complications such as obesity, depression, stroke, heart disease or cancer may affect your clients and how to best support them.

In trimester 3, you can choose to follow your interest and will develop a research project under supervision from one of the teaching team (60 credits).

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    This is a one-year full-time MSc course (180 credits) and is split up into three trimesters. You’ll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials and independent study. There are also opportunities to complete a PgDip (120 credits) or a PgCert (60 credits). Alternatively, you may wish to complete specific module/modules as part of your own continuous professional development.

  • note and pen Assessments

    Assessments will be conducted through a variety of methods including written reports, case studies; poster presentations and exams.

  • briefcase Work placement

    In trimester 2, you will complete a work placement module, please see module descriptions for more details.


CIMSPA will provide students with official approval after meeting certain standards embedded in the programme, specifically, the following two professional standards: Working with People with Long Term Conditions; and Health Navigator.

You can take then the CIMSPA Chartered Health and Activity Practitioner route to develop your professional career after successful completion of our MSc programme. Please see more information about this here

Future opportunity in development for those with sport & exercise science (or similar) backgrounds: Currently, the programme teaching team is part of a UK-wide project to advocate and promote University trained and accredited Clinical Exercise Specialists as recognised allied health professionals (AHPs). We will update this information as the project develops.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

A Bachelor (Honours) degree at 2:2 or above. We look for candidates who have a background in Physical Activity & Health, Sport and Exercise Science, Sports Coaching, Psychology, Nursing, Physiotherapy or other Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) qualifications.

We may also consider other qualifications/experience which demonstrate through our recognition of prior learning process that you have appropriate knowledge and skills at SCQF level 10.

The University does not sponsor students to study on part-time programmes in the UK under the Student Visa route. International Applicants must therefore have other valid immigration leave to study on this programme.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2022/23 2023/24
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland-Taught modules *£1,020 tba
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland-60credit Dissertation module £600 tba
Overseas and EU-Taught Modules *£2,390 tba
Overseas and EU-60credit Dissertation £1,608 tba

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.
The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.


    Career opportunities include: Working for private health providers, GP exercise referral; programmes; Injury rehabilitation services; NHS and private hospitals; Exercise rehabilitation clinics; Fitness industry; Sports rehabilitation; Private practice; Research.

    Our graduates have gone on to pathways within the NHS, and a range of health and well-being careers in physiology, health & fitness (e.g. Edinburgh Leisure, Nuffield Health), and in behaviour change in public health and community roles, and PhD study.

Feet on a treadmill