Course Overview

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Graduates of this course will also be eligible for accreditation and registration offered by REPs Ireland and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Exercise Physiology Graphic 1

This unique course will enable students to:

  • Develop knowledge of exercise physiology and evaluation of fitness.
  • Learn to plan and provide an exercise programme to healthy clients and as therapy in certain clinical settings.
  • Obtain professional recognition from REPs Ireland/ACSM.
  • Pursue a career as an exercise specialist/therapist.

In this course, students will develop an advanced knowledge of exercise physiology including a full understanding of physiological processes and changes that occur during different types of exercise. Students will understand how these changes are beneficial to general health and fitness. Students will have a clear understanding of exercise testing and prescription in health and in certain chronic disease settings. Topics featured in the lecture series include nerve-muscle physiology, cardiorespiratory physiology, kinesiology, integrated physiological responses to exercise and methods of evaluation, metabolism and nutrition in exercise, scientific principles of exercise prescription, methods of physiological assessment during exercise in healthy and clinical populations. Students will gain hands on experience in conducting exercise tests and physiological assessment of fitness. Semester 1–2 will be taught through lectures. Blended learning: All modules (1–6) will also be available online via podcasts and will be delivered via the medium of blackboard collaborate ultra virtual classrooms. (This will ensure that international students need to travel to NUI Galway only for four months Mid May-August. They can then be accommodated in the empty student houses in the Corrib Village at a reduced cost.) Online students will engage with pre-recorded lectures on blackboard weekly. To support engagement, discussion and interraction, these lectures will be followed by a online meeting with the course director via ultracollaborate. 

All students will engage with continuous assessments. Students will be assessed during each semester by continuous assessments and end of semester exams. In module 7 in semester 2, students will attend a three week long hands-on training workshop to gain practical experience in exercise testing and physiological methods of evaluating performance and exercise prescription and application of their knowledge. Students will also attend a two-day workshop on professionalism and learn about the roles and responsibilities of an exercise specialist.

On successful completion of Semester 1—2 student will be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma (as an exit route).

Accreditation opportunities

Students will also be eligible for accreditation and registration offered by REPs Ireland and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

In Semester 3, students will complete a research project on a related topic under the supervision of a member of faculty. At the beginning of Semester 3, students will attend a research methods workshop in which they will learn the basic principles of conducting scientific research, data collection, data management and analysis and presentation of scientific data. Students will be made aware of bioethical issues involved in research. At the end of the workshop, the students will prepare and present a plan for their proposed research project. Ethical approval will be obtained in advance from the College of Medicine Research Ethics Committee for each project offered. The students will have 8 weeks to complete their project. During this time they will interact closely with their supervisor. They will also be in contact with the course director for help and guidance whenever necessary. The students will submit a dissertation or thesis report of their project, which will be presented to staff followed by an interview. Student will receive a Masters degree on successful completion of all three semesters and successful defense of their project dissertation.


At the end of Semester 3 there will be a one-day conference organised by the course director where students will have an opportunity to showcase their work.

Students will also be eligible for accreditation and registration offered by REPs Ireland and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). 

Why Choose This Course...

  • If you like to exercise, if you enjoy caring for others, if you like working in the healthcare setting or in the sports arena then this course is for you!
  • In this course, students will develop an advanced knowledge of exercise physiology including a full and in-depth understanding of physiological processes and changes that occur during routine exercise and during training. Students will understand how these changes are beneficial to general health and fitness. Students will have a clear understanding of the methods of evaluation that can be used to assess these changes, to evaluate the fitness level and to plan and prescribe an exercise program that will be beneficial to the individual's health.
  • This unique course will enable students to:
    - Learn to prescribe an EXERCISE PROGRAM to healthy clients and as THERAPY in certain CLINICAL settings
    - Pursue a career as an EXERCISE SPECIALIST/THERAPIST

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

Dr Ananya Gupta 
Ananya is a Lecturer (Above the Bar) in the Discipline of Physiology.

Professor Antony Wheatley, Head of Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, NUI Galway

Dr Michael Newell
Michael is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Medical Informatics and Medical Education.

Dr Nicole Burns
Nicole is a lecturer in the Discipline of Physiology at NUI Galway.

Other contributing lecturers (NUI Galway):

  • Professor Garry Duffy—Professor in Anatomy, School of Medicine
  • Dr Brendan Higgins—Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Karl McCullagh—Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr. Brian McDonagh—Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Louise Horrigan—Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Karen Doyle—Senior Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Michelle Roche—Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Louise Cambell—Lecturer in General Practice, School of Medicine
  • Professor David Finn—Professor in Pharmacology, School of Medicine
  • Dr Eva Szegezdi—Lecturer in Biochemistry, College of Science
  • Dr Amir Shafat—Senior Lecturer in Physiology, School of Medicine 

Discipline of Physiology Exercise Laboratory and Teaching Facility

Students will attend lectures and laboratory sessions in the state-of-the-art teaching facility equipped with modern audiovisual and laboratory equipment in the Human Biology Building, School of Medicine, NUI Galway.

1. Physiology Teaching Labs, Discipline of Physiology, HBB Building, NUI Galway
2. Physiology Exercise Suite, Discipline of Physiology, HBB Building, NUI Galway
3. Human Performance and Locomotion Laboratory, Discipline of Engineering, NUI Galway

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Students must have completed BSc (NFQ Level 8) in Physiology, Biomedical Science, Un-denominated Science, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Exercise Science, Nursing and Health Science, Physiotherapy, Podiatry or any other relevant biology or medical science area with at least a 2nd class. (Students who have received a BSc Honors qualification or equivalent will be given preference in the shortlisting process.) Adult learners seeking additional qualifications are also welcome. Work experience in the relevant area will be an advantage. 

This course is suitable for students interested in a career in exercise prescription and graduates upon completion of this course will be eligible to register with REPs Ireland and American Association of Personal Trainers (AAPT). 

For applicants where English is a second language, we will adhere to NUIG guidelines of requiring IELTS scores of 6.5, TOEFL scores of 88 and/or Pearson PTE scores of 61 with no less than 6.5 in any component.

Selection criteria:

Initially a shortlisting procedure will be applied to prioritise applicants. Those who do not meet the primary entry criteria as described above will be declined entry into the program. The remaining applicants will be reviewed in closer detail. Significant weight will be placed on

A) the applicant’s essay describing their motivation for applying for this course and their career aspirations following the successful completion of the MSc,
B) the applicant’s referee’s comments, and
C) the applicant’s previous academic performance.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time or 2 years, part-time (limited places).

Next start date

September 2022

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

 Please view the offer rounds website.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting


Masters (or exit route available: PDip)


Course code

1EPT1 (full-time); 1 EPT2 (part-time)

Course Outline

Exercise Physiology Graphic 2

Course learning outcomes

Course learning outcomes (CLO) are grouped into three levels, knowledge-based outcomes, intellectual advancement, as well as transferable and professional skill acquisition. At the completion of the one-year full time program, it is expected that students will be able to:

 Knowledge-based outcomes

  1. Discuss functional musculoskeletal anatomy and kinesiology its role in movement and exercise
  2. Describe the individual and integrated physiological responses to different types of exercise.
  3. Explain the importance of metabolism and nutrition in maintaining an effective exercise program


Intellectual outcomes

  1. Assess the physiological responses of an individual during exercise and apply this information to the design of a suitable and relevant exercise programme.
  2. Apply knowledge of the adaptations to chronic exercise to provide a rationale for the provision of exercise programmes to improve and maintain specific aspects of health and fitness.
  3. Design an exercise program that meets the needs of individuals in consideration of current, best-practice guidelines, risk category and the exercise capacity, tolerance and motivation of the individual.
  4. Evaluate the role of exercise training/rehabilitation in patients with chronic disease and recommend appropriate strategies to implement exercise as a therapeutic tool. 

Transferable knowledge and professional outcomes

  1. Plan and perform a research project based on evaluation of fitness, exercise testing and prescrition
  2. Outline occupational roles and responsibillities as an exercise specialist and personal trainer.
  3. Recognise and describe the professional issues associated with the provision of exercise physiology services.


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Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

With the increasing number of people living with chronic illnesses the demand for exercise physiologists capable of giving personal exercise advice that can improve the living standards of an individual is growing.  Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to work in areas such as:

  • Health clubs and related organizations
  • Public sports and recreation facilities
  • Local public health authorities
  • Schools, further education, and higher education institutions

The course is designed to fulfill all the requirements for the EHFA and REPs Ireland accreditation. Students will be assisted in their application for registration with REPS Ireland and American College of Sports Medicine.

Graduates will also be eligible to pursue research PhD programmes in Sport and Exercise Science and related areas in the Discipline of Physiology, NUI Galway.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€8,676 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Tuition

€8,536 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Student levy

€140 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Non EU

€17,426 p.a. 2021/22

Scholarship information links:

This course is also eligible under the Sports Scholarship scheme: email for details.

Find out More

Dr. Ananya Gupta,
Discipline of Physiology, NUI Galway.
T: +353 91 492 358 | +353 85 102 6457


Mike Heskin |   Director of Sports & Physical Activity, NUI Galway

This course is endorsed by Mike Heskin, Dir. of Sport, NUI Galway. Sports scholarships are available. Contact for details.
in Connect with Mike

Mark O’Donovan |   Olympic rower, world champion and NUIG Sports scholar

I choose to do this Masters, in Exercise Physiology and its application in therapy, as I was interested in continuing my work and study in the area of sport. I have a masters in Sports Performance and I wanted to expand on this knowledge and explore the therapy and clinical side of sports. This Masters is both full time and distance learning, I am doing the distance learning option as it allows me to complete my training program in the National Rowing Centre in Cork, while also keeping up with the course through online lectures and learning materials which I am able to work through in my own time. The knowledge I am getting from the course has complimented my training too as I am getting an understanding of physiology which I can then translate more practically into my training. Even though I am a distance learning student I have an open invitation to come to NUI Galway to attend any of the classes in person, which is a great option to have if you want to meet some of your fellow students and the lecturers in person. There is a good interaction between the students and the lecturers when needed, either in person or via discussion boards or email.

Kayla Morrisey |   Graduate Assistant Basketball Coach, North Central College

My aim through this program was to enhance my understanding of human biology and the principles underlying exercise physiology and exercise prescription which will help me to pursue a career as a basket ball coach. Kayla was appointed as a Basketball coach at Graduate Assistant Coach for North Central College Women's Basketball on 1st September 2019 and is currently pursuing her dream job.

Alazne Larrinaga |   lexander Technique teacher, Galway

The MSc has greatly help me understand the human physiology of exercise and this has helped me enhance my practice as a Alexander Technique teacher. What I liked most about the course is when we learnt how to apply the principles of exercise physiology as a therapy to improve health and fitness in different illnesses

Turlough O’Heocha |   Student of MSc in Exercise Physiology AY1819

Most importantly the practical aspects involving role-playing and exercise is medicine case presentations in this course made the learning experience very enjoyable while giving us a perspective on how we can make a change in our patient’s lives. I plan on perusing the clinical side of exercise physiology; and I think this section of my masters will help me provide greater evidence based care to my future patients. I am excited to work in the field of exercise physiology and I am grateful to have had a lecturer as enthusiastic and supportive as Ananya

Helen McLoughlin |   Student of MSc in Exercise Physiology AY1819

Overall I found all the modules in this course extremely enjoyable and engaging. Each assignment and case study was designed to further our understanding and application of the theory we had learned in class, and I believe this was a great contribution towards developing our professional competency.

Higher Education Awards 2020

Shortlisted for Best New Postgraduate Course 2020

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