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Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition

MSc / PGDip

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

Accredited by the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr)

Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Oxford Brookes focuses on the role of nutrition in the optimisation of health and physical performance. Nutrition has profound effects on both human health and athletic performance and this course is based on the latest scientific research and contemporary practice. It is designed to fulfil the needs of students who want to work with a range of populations to improve their health, fitness or sporting performance. Applications are encouraged from graduates who have a background in either sport and exercise science or human nutrition.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 8 months
  • Part time: MSc: 24 months, PGDip: 20 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Our research groups and consultancies have strong links with Oxfordshire hospitals, elite athletes and food organisations, allowing students to conduct internal and external research projects and develop potential career opportunities.
  • We invite guest speakers from industry, other universities and research organisations to provide you with subject specialist knowledge.
  • Our staff come from a wide range of sporting and nutrition backgrounds. Some are actively involved in coaching which means the course is based on the latest scientific research and contemporary practice.
  • Small class sizes provide you with plenty of opportunities for in-depth discussions and practical application of the theory.
  • We provide opportunities to work with university and local sports teams as well as individuals seeking personalised nutrition advice.
  • Our staff conduct first-class research in sport, exercise and nutrition and bring it to the classroom.

Professional accreditation

This course is currently accredited by the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr). Please note that this accreditation is subject to review and can be withdrawn at any time.

We expect that our students will have a strong understanding of either human nutrition or sport and exercise science. The first semester requires that you enrol in either the Human Nutrition or Exercise Physiology module, depending on your background. For example, if you have an undergraduate degree in human nutrition you will usually take the Exercise Physiology module. This format enables you to progress to advanced-level classes, where comprehensive knowledge of both human nutrition and exercise physiology is essential.

Semester one emphasises theoretical and research issues. The second semester then encourages application of the theoretical underpinnings in applied settings (field and laboratory settings).

Finally,  in the Research Project, which completes the MSc award, you use both your theoretical and applied experience from the taught section of the course to complete a substantial piece of independent research.

To complete an MSc, you need to obtain 180 level 7 credits. The PGDip is awarded to students who obtain 120 level 7 credits by successfully completing either the Human Nutrition or Exercise Physiology module, and all the remaining modules except the Research Project.

Human Nutrition (20 level 7 credits) provides a comprehensive overview of the different nutrients required by humans throughout the life cycle and their sources in food in the UK and worldwide. It also critically evaluates methods used to assess nutrient intake at an individual and population level. The relationship between lifestyle and body composition will also be covered.

Exercise Physiology (20 level 7 credits) examines the fundamental concepts in exercise physiology. Content includes acute and chronic adaptations to exercise, biochemistry and function of skeletal muscle, principles of exercise training, physiology of special populations (eg children, women, elderly and elite athletes) and immune function. Teaching methods include seminars and laboratory sessions.

Sport and Exercise Nutrition in Practice (20 level 7 credits) draws upon expert experience from individuals who are involved in providing nutritional support for people who participate in sport and exercise. Where appropriate, the module will use the expertise of guest lecturers in addition to the core teaching team. Strategies that focus on selected techniques known to enhance healthy dietary strategies will be covered. Finally, the use of case studies and practical experience will link the theoretical and applied aspects of the course to provide you with the skills necessary to meet the challenges faced by contemporary sport and exercise nutritionists.

Research Methods (20 level 7 credits) provides a foundation and training in fundamental research methods, from literature searching, experimental planning and design to data analysis and presentation. Assessment is by coursework only.

Nutrition, Physical Activity and Health (20 level 7 credits) examines the relationships between nutrition, physical activity and health outcomes in humans. In particular, the influence of diet and physical activity on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity will be considered along with counselling and goal-setting for diet, nutrition and exercise.

Applied Practice in Sport, Exercise and Nutrition (20 level 7 credits) provides you with opportunities to reflect on your professional practice and to consider the legal and ethical boundaries when working in sport and exercise nutrition settings. You will also gain training to assist in working with clients with special needs (eg young or elderly populations, disabled athletes, vegetarian athletes) or who come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds that do not otherwise fit the 'standard' model of sport and exercise nutrition.

Laboratory Techniques in Sport and Exercise Nutrition (20 level 7 credits) consists of a practical component using state-of-the-art laboratory techniques including portable calorimetry, densitometry, haematology and urine analysis. This module includes comprehensive testing on both invited athletes and classmates. In addition to the practical element, a main focus of the module is placed on data interpretation and presentation to aid report writing for scientific publications and also athlete and coach feedback. Enrolment on the module also entitles you to complementary registration for the highly sought after International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) Level 1 qualification (on completion of the required additional practical and theoretical components).

Research Project (60 level 7 credits) consists of an intensive period of research into a selected topic in sport and exercise nutrition. You will work closely with an appointed supervisor to establish a project topic and identify an appropriate intervention. The research project will be primarily assessed by dissertation submission. Past projects have included fluid and energy delivery from sports drinks during cycling and rowing, accuracy of calorie expenditure estimates of popular sports equipment and effects from ingestion of alcohol, protein, carbohydrate, fat and ergogenic aids including sodium bicarbonate, caffeine, dietary nitrate and creatine. 

Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of modules may vary from that shown here.

Teaching and learning

Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis, with each module requiring approximately 36 hours of staff contact time and 200 hours of total student input in each 12-week semester.

Our teaching and learning focus on this MSc is to encourage you to develop the necessary skills to understand and communicate advanced theoretical and research-based knowledge of nutrition to people who participate in sport and exercise. Learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics associated with applied sport and exercise nutrition and include lectures, directed reading, workshops, seminars, practical exercises, laboratory sessions and project work. The research project will be supervised on a one-to-one basis.

Your performance in each module is usually assessed by evaluation of the quality of written or design work, and verbal presentations. Assessment methods may include essays, seminar papers, formal written examinations, in-class tests, project case work, design and verbal presentations, workshops, simulations, and practical exercises.

Specialist facilities

  • BASES-accredited Human Performance Laboratory.
  • Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation Unit.
  • Functional Food Centre.
  • Specialist equipment including near-infrared spectroscopy, Qualysis motion capture system, online breath-by-breath analysis technologies and a BodPod.

Field trips

We encourage you to attend relevant industry and academic conferences to further your subject knowledge and take advantage of networking opportunities. When possible, we provide financial support for students to attend conferences (subject to availability). Where financial support is unavailable, you will need to self-fund conference attendance.

Student awards

Each year, the academic staff who are responsible for teaching or supervising MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition students are invited to nominate students for the following student prize awards:

Powerbar Prize for Outstanding Professional Commitment in Sport and Exercise Nutrition

This prize is awarded to the student who demonstrated high levels of commitment to the practice of sport and exercise nutrition whilst studying at Oxford Brookes.

Human Kinetics Prize for Outstanding Research in Sport and Exercise Nutrition

This prize is awarded to the student who submits the best research project as judged by the project supervisors and assessors, with input from the external examiner.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £7,490 2020/21: £7,500

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £3,820 2020/21: £3,750

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,880 2020/21: £15,400

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

To successfully complete this postgraduate course, you are usually expected to have (or be about to attain) at least a first or upper second class honours degree in a related scientific subject from a recognised institution of higher education. Applicants with a lower second class award may be accepted if they can provide a transcript to show that they performed near to the upper second class level. If you do not have these academic qualifications, you could still be offered a place on this course if you can show evidence of the potential to succeed based on professional and/or related experiences.

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


Many sports are becoming increasingly professional in their approach to training and nutrition. For example, many sports clubs now employ full-time nutrition consultants. Career prospects outside sport are also exciting. The NHS offers an increasing number of opportunities for students with specialist training in exercise nutrition to support GP referral schemes and other healthy living programmes. The growing awareness of health within society, coupled with misconceptions of the relationship between physical activity, nutrition and health has led to an increasing demand for graduates who can deliver evidence-based solutions and advice at all levels. Research or teaching within further or higher education also provide potential career opportunities.

Our graduates progress to a diverse range of careers including exercise and lifestyle consultants based within hospitals and private practice. Various graduates have secured full time and part time work with professional sports teams as well as the Institutes of Sport in the UK. Some of our graduates have also gone on to work in major international companies such as GlaxoSmithKline or are employed as industry consultants, dieticians and nutrition counsellors. Graduates have also successfully gained funded PhD positions.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

  • Supervision from internationally-recognised academics.
  • Part-time opportunities for students based in the workplace.
  • Excellent facilities giving access to the latest technology.
  • A mixture of funded and self/externally-funded places.
  • High-profile research events.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

One of the biggest accolades for a research student is to see their work presented at a conference or published in a scientific journal. Many studies that have been conducted by previous students are going through this process. Students have recently submitted and presented work at conferences and have published abstracts. These include:

Marley, A., Bakali, M., Whitbread, O., Alcala, H. and Simpson, C. H. (2016). Physiological responses to alcohol consumption prior to the completion of prolonged cycling in males. Presented at BASEs student conference, Bangor University, UK.

Costello, R. and Simpson, C. H. (2016). Validity of the TomTom GPS Cardio watch for monitoring heart rate during horse riding. Presented at BASEs student conference, Bangor University, UK.

Pavalaki, S., Varnham, R. and Ramsbottom, R. (2016). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves mean power during upper body resistive exercise. Proceedings of the Physiological Society 35, PC07.

Research areas and clusters

  • Immediate physiological and psychophysical exercise performed at different intensities.
  • Effects of restricted fluid intake in people with MS on temperature control, energy levels, balance and cognitive and physical performance.
  • Feasibility of supporting people with long-term neurological conditions to exercise in the community.
  • Exploring exercise responses in children with physical disabilities with plans to explore delivery of community exercise and sports programmes.
  • Exploring novel exercise delivery techniques for people who find it hard to move, including use of mental imagery.
  • Effect of fluid and carbohydrate intake on rowing skill and performance.
  • Relationship between levels of physical activity and blood levels of neuroactive proteins induced by exercise.
  • Green tea effect on competitive cycling performance.
  • Effective nutritional strategies for enhancing post-exercise rehydration.