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Sport Psychology 2: Skill Acquisition

Module titleSport Psychology 2: Skill Acquisition
Module codeESS2808
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Kirsty Brock (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

You will be introduced to a field of psychology that can be applied to a range of health and performance domains; namely motor skill acquisition. You will cover the key psychological theories and models relating to skill acquisition and develop an understanding of how theoretical knowledge is used to guide applied practice.

Skill acquisition is the study of our ability to acquire and develop movement skills. This module will provide you with a contemporary theoretical framework for understanding how performers progress from novice performers early in learning with low levels of skill, to expert performers who have mastered their skills. These principles of skill acquisition also underpin the acquisition of everyday life movement skills and are therefore also applicable to diverse areas such as rehabilitation and ergonomics. In this module you will consider how this theory and experimental work can be utilised in terms of applied sports skill acquisition and therapy.

Module aims - intentions of the module

In order to apply psychological knowledge to sport and health science you will need a sound understanding of psychological theories and the ability to critically evaluate relevant empirical evidence.


In this module you will be introduced to cutting edge topics in skill acquisition (important for nearly all sports and successful daily living/healthy aging). You will also examine various theoretical accounts and methods that have been proposed to make skill learning more effective and resilient. Example and applications from current research in the department across a wide spectrum of domains (stroke patients, children with coordination difficulties, athletes, etc.) will be discussed.


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


  • Team work in the formative tasks.
  • Strategic thinking and problem solving in the formative tasks.
  • Application of knowledge in interpreting findings in formative tasks, writing blog posts and completing the exam..
  • Ability to contribute to a collaborative online learning environment
  • Enquiring mind in pursuing further reading on topics covered in the module.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe key models related to skill acquisition
  • 2. Illustrate the role that perception and attention play in the learning and performance of sporting skills and in daily living for special populations
  • 3. Describe considerations that should be taken into account when providing feedback and instructions to learners and clinical populations
  • 4. Compare developmental pathways to sporting excellence

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Organise and present academic evidence
  • 6. Interpret, synthesise and evaluate relevant empirical findings with respect to competing theories and models
  • 7. Apply theory to practice

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Undertake independent/self-directed study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently in a manner appropriate to the intended audience

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan


This module will be delivered using a combination of pre-recorded resources and activities, live discussion sessions and group activities. You will be able to work through the recorded content and activities at your own convenience. Each week you will also have a  small group seminar. Seminar sessions will either take place in teaching rooms or online. Whether you are attending in person or online the seminar sessions will require you to conduct some pre-reading. The topics covered in this module will be as follows:

  1. Perceptual Cognitive Expertise
  2. Vision and Gaze Behaviour
  3. Quiet Eye
  4. Implicit Motor Learning
  5. Reinvestment
  6. Attention
  7. Practice Variability
  8. Contextual Interference
  9. Talent ID
  10. Talent Development
  11. Risk factors for cognitive decline

Where appropriate each topic will be considered from both a sport and health perspective.

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 Teaching12Lectures (12 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study22Online lecture content and materials
Guided Independent Study12Preparation for seminar sessions
Guided Independent Study30Reading
Guided Independent Study26Online activities
Guided Independent Study20Preparation for assessment
Guided Independent Study28Preparation for examination


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Blog post300 wordsAllWritten
Short answer questions30 minutes1-4, 6, 8Written
Practice examination (essay writing)30 minutesAllWritten

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
2 x Blog posts402 x 750 wordsAllWritten
Short answer question and essay examination6090 minutesAll Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Blog postsBlog postsAllAugust assessment period
Multiple choice and essay examinationMultiple choice and essay examinationAllAugust 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%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Williams, A.M. and Hodges, N.J. (2012). Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory and practice (2nd ed). London: Routledge.
  • Baker, J. and Farrow, D. (2015). Routledge handbook of sport expertise. London, Routledge.
  • Selected reading in key journals and text books (e.g., Psychology of Sport and Exercise, J of Sport and Exercise Psychology, etc.).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Sport psychology, visuomotor control, skill acquisition, expertise, motor learning, rehabilitation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

ESS1605 Foundations of Exercise and Sport Psychology

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date