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Sport, Physical Activity and Health

Module titleSport, Physical Activity and Health
Module codeESS3705
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Melvyn Hillsdon (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The focus of this module is on team work and problem solving. It is likely to be different from any other module you have taken in that rather than investigating the effects of interventions on individual people the module will be examining how we evaluate whether or not community/population level interventions alter population levels of physical activity and sport.

Across the country multiple interventions are being implemented to try and increase sport and physical activity levels of local populations. One of the great challenges of these interventions is evaluating their effectiveness. In other words how do we determine whether or not the intervention led to an increase in physical activity prevalence and how confident can we be that any changes we observe are due to the intervention and not just the passage of time or some other intervention (e.g. the weather, price of fuel, winning the world cup - okay perhaps not)? This is a complex challenge that requires new knowledge and skills in sampling methods, measurement techniques and evaluation designs - all topics covered in the module. Unlike lab based studies where there is a lot of control and certainty and the numbers of participants are very low, in community level studies there is little control, considerable uncertainty and the number of participants is likely to be in the thousands.

In this module you will spend most of your time in small teams working through the challenge of designing an evaluation strategy to assess the effectiveness of a genuine community level intervention. After week 1 you will be randomly allocated to a working group, in other words you will not be able to choose your group. This is precisely how work groups are established to manage community level interventions. Over the course of the module, each week, you will learn some aspect of evaluating a community evaluation and then take that learning and apply it to the problem you have been set. This format will be repeated most weeks until at the end of the course your group will record a presentation of its evaluation strategy and upload it to the module website. A review panel that will grade the presentation and the evaluation plan.

Throughout the course, to ensure learning is occurring, you will have 3 short mid-term assessments on each of the main topics (sampling methods, measurement and evaluation design). Group work is imperative to the success of the module and your final grade so this module requires full attendance. At the end of teaching, a group will receive a mark for their presentation (all group members will receive the same mark). In the final week of the course each individual in the group will be asked to participate in a 5-minute question and answer session about the evaluation design that their group presented. They will receive an individual mark for this which will be combined with the group mark to form the final mark for the presentation.

Low contribution of individual group members is to the detriment of the whole group as it means fewer people doing more of the work - therefore each person on the module has a personal responsibility to contribute fully to their group.

The module will cover key questions such as:


  • How do we measure who is participating in sport and physical activity?
  • Who plays what sports and is sport participation increasing in the population?
  • Do mass participation events (e.g. London Marathon) lead to increases in physical activity in those who participate in them?
  • Is there any evidence we can get people to do more sport or physical activity?
  • If we design an intervention to increase sports participation how can we evaluate if it has worked?
  • How do we work out how many people we need for a study and how do we sample them from the population?


Teaching methods will include lectures, small group work, practical exercises, data analysis and hands on experience using various measurement devices. Throughout the module you will use population sport and health data to address a number of the questions above.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The first part of this module will examine sports participation data to understand which groups in the population participate more or less in sports and what particular sports. Following this the focus will be on how we select a sample of people (who we select and how many of them) for a study of population levels of sport and physical activity or an intervention. The middle part of the module will focus on the measurement of sport and the pros and cons of different measurement instruments. You will experiment with both self-report and objective measures. The latter part of the module will review attempts to increase sports participation and how to evaluate the effectiveness of such attempts.

Graduate attributes. As part of this module you are expected to develop the following skills:

  • Team work throughout the module.
  • Strategic thinking and problem solving in designing evaluation plan.
  • The practical application of science.
  • Applying research knowledge to ‘real world’ problems.
  • People skills in communicating with peers and module teaching team.
  • Critical thinking and debating in developing evaluation plans.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse and report participation rates in sport Describe the relationship between sport participation and health
  • 2. Draw a sample of participants for a study using a range of methods
  • 3. Undertake a sample size calculation
  • 4. Undertake subjective and objective measures of physical activity
  • 5. Understand the difference between individual, community and population level interventions

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Explain different evaluation methods
  • 7. Organise and present academic evidence
  • 8. Synthesise and critically appraise results from empirical studies
  • 9. Translate research findings into policy and practice

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Manage self-learning; set and meet targets; manage time; solve problems, read for information
  • 11. Present ideas / information competently and critically
  • 12. Work in small groups

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will consist of a mixture of lectures, small group discussions and practicals.


The module will be divided into three phases as described in the module aims above with the following structure:

Weeks 1-2 will focus on the prevalence of sport/physical activity and sampling methods.                           .

Weeks 3-5 will focus on the measurement of sport and physical activity.

Weeks 6-11 will focus on the evaluation of sport and physical activity interventions.


Each week will comprise of a lecture and small group work/practical. Topics for small group work/practical include examining public datasets on sports participation, sampling methods, measurement methods and evaluation methods,

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Lecture, seminar or workshop
Guided Independent Study55Preparation for weekly tutorials, reading and ELE tasks
Guided Independent Study12Preparation for formative assessments
Guided Independent Study50Preparation for exams


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group work evaluation questionnaire10 minutes11-12Written group summary
Thematic quizzes5 minutes2,3,4,5Weekly Discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination (1 essay style question)351 hour 15 minutesAllWritten
Mid-term progress test 11030 minutesAllWritten
Mid-term progress test 21030 minutesAllWritten
Mid-term progress test 31030 minutesAllWritten
Group presentation and Individual Q&A3515 minutes and 5 minutesAllWritten


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAugust/September assessment period
Mid-term progress test 1Test 1AllAugust/September assessment period
Mid-term progress test 2Test 2AllAugust/September assessment period
Mid-term progress test 3Test 3AllAugust/September assessment period
Group presentationIndividual presentationAllAugust/September assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

If you are referred or deferred in the group presentation, you will have the opportunity to give an individual presentation.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Hardman AE, and Stensel DJ. (2009). Physical activity and health (2nd Edition). London: Routledge.
  • Lee I-M, Blair S, Manson J, Paffenbarger RS. Epidemiologic methods in physical activity studies. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 2 and 3.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Exercise psychology, epidemiology, public health, exercise behaviour, health, disease, Olympic

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date