The course focuses on developing a student’s scientific understanding of the human mind, behaviour and experience, and of the complex interactions between these and the domain of sport and exercise. It has been designed to be flexible and relevant to the student’s individual needs and interests, with a strong emphasis on the application of theory to professional practice. Within the modular structure all students undertake core/compulsory modules in:
Independent Study (a one to one supervised programme of work leading to the development of the proposal for the Research Project);
Supervised Experience – a module tailored to the needs of the individual and could include directed work with a specified client group or individual;
Research Project relevant to the programme being studied.
Research Skills is a double credit taught module. Students study the broad nature of the research process that will allow them to complete, initially, an appropriate Independent Study (in which a research proposal for the Research Project is completed) and subsequently, a full Research Project. The module covers material relevant to the design and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative research. It also provides a broad understanding of the benefits and limitations of various research methods, research designs, data collection instruments and data analysis tools. Students are given the opportunity to develop their ability to be critically evaluative.
Specific content includes: Statistical issues in quantitative research and design; Simple and multiple (forced entry, moderated and mediated) regression analyses; Single factor analysis of variance with and without repeated measures; Two factor analysis of variance with and without repeated measures; Single factor and two factor multivariate analysis of variance (with and without repeated measures); Repeated measures analysis of variance using the multivariate solution; Doubly repeated measures analysis of variance; Analysis of covariance; Follow-up procedures for all of the above; Assumptions underpinning all of the above and available options for dealing with violations to these assumptions; Experiments and causal inference; External and construct validity; Experimental and quasi-experimental designs; Correlational and epidemiological research; Reliability and validity in quantitative and qualitative research; Issues in qualitative research and design; Interviews; Single case design and analysis; Observation; Narrative; Ethnography; grounded theory and discourse analysis.
The Independent Study should consist of a critical and concise review of the research literature pertaining to a particular research question. A rationale for the proposed research question must be provided, along with a sound methodology for exploring the research question, planned analyses, and expected outcomes. Further, anticipated problems such as resources, equipment, possible ethical issues, informed consent forms, a statement of feasibility of the project and expected costs must be discussed.
The content of this module will be largely student specific and include activities (workshops, directed reading, client based work) that will develop the individual’s personal applied support skills. Initially, students complete an individual self-assessment of their current skills/knowledge base and set personal goals to enable them to improve their applied support skills. All students will attend units (workshops) on Ethics in Research and consultancy, communication and counselling skills and how to conduct a needs assessment. Specific physiology and psychology workshops (eg Imagery) will also take place.
Students will complete a contract of intended activities agreed with their supervisor in the first four weeks of their programme of study. This contract may, where appropriate, include the intention to apply to British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) to commence a formally logged Supervised Experience.
A portfolio will then be developed; the portfolio records activities including meetings with supervisor, attendance at workshops, meetings and a plan of work with at least one client, and thought/evaluations of all meetings and workshops (ie evidence of reflective practice).
Overview and Format of the Research Project module
The Research Project is an independent piece of research, and acts as the culmination of the academic challenges faced by the student. The module comprises 60 credits (ie equivalent to three double modules) and will formally equate to some 600 hours of student time.
Students work closely with their supervisor to develop the work on their research proposal submitted during the Independent Study module. As External Examiners have noted, throughout this module students receive excellent research training from leaders in the field, with the resulting projects being published in international, peer reviewed journals.
Specifically, this will involve a review of research evidence with the aim of formulating an appropriate research question, and will likely involve some refinement and pilot work. Once achieved, the student will implement a research design and method suited to the area of enquiry. The supervisor provides excellent expert guidance throughout the process.
Mono-disciplinary studies and interdisciplinary work, which might involve the student’s ongoing sport/exercise experience, will be encouraged. Each topic will normally involve data collection, analysis and interpretation and allow students to demonstrate their powers of imagination, initiative, independence and time management. Students will be expected to show a thorough knowledge of the relevant sources of information and the ability to use them with discrimination; to provide full references; to exercise sound and independent judgment; to structure work logically and to express themselves with clarity and precision.
Students also undertake additional compulsory modules in Sport Psychology and Exercise Psychology, and choose one optional module from Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete or Effective Coaching.
The programme is delivered using a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, workshops, group activities, practical work, tutorials and role play. Each module comprises approximately 200 hours (including formal contact).