School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

Undergraduate study

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Man adjusting oxygen mask on a runner

Harnessing science to improve health and sport

The science behind sport and physical activity is becoming increasingly important, and it’s not just for professional athletes.

As our lifestyles become more sedentary, more people than ever are being encouraged to start running, join a local sports club, or go to the gym after work. For some people this leads to more interest in improving their personal records, such as running a half marathon a little faster, or increasing the number of reps they can do. Sports scientists help people improve their fitness and reach their goals safely, based on a solid foundation of scientific research and evidence.

But the number of people taking part in sport and exercise also increases the risk of injuries. There is growing demand for sports therapists to help those injured get back to their previous fitness. Likewise the importance of physiotherapy for recovery from a range of medical conditions means that more people are becoming aware of the key role they play in physical rehabilitation.

In our School we believe that these fields work in tandem. We’re here to ensure that you will have the skills and knowledge to get the best out of athletes, sports people, and those rehabilitating after injury or illness.

Whether you’re interested in the science behind sports and exercise, or keen to help people recover from injury, our undergraduate degrees will set you up for a rewarding career in your field of interest.

From the basics of physiology through to the psychology of coaching, our expert staff will guide you through your course, assisted by time in our specialist labs

Explore our undergraduate courses
Why choose our School
  • 93% our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022)
  • We are 19th in the UK for Physiotherapy in the Complete University Guide 2023.
  • Opportunities to enhance your CV with work placements, additional qualifications, and a year abroad.
Research-guided teaching, studying abroad in Australia, and the application of knowledge within the Human Performance Unit. These are some examples of the multitude of experiences that have facilitated my learning and academic development as an undergraduate student. It has been a tremendous experience to be in a department dedicated to helping each and every student achieve an excellent degree, with broad employment and further study prospects.
Marie Winter BSC Sport and exercise Science

What do we offer you?

Placements and year abroad

Our BSc Physiotherapy and BSc Sports Therapy degrees include work placements as part of your studies.

Our other degrees have the option of including a placement year between your second and final years. Our School and the University's student development department will help you identify and apply for suitable placements in the local area or around the country. Placements are a great way to put your classroom learning in to practice, helping your CV stand out when you graduate and begin looking for employment.

Alternatively you might want to expand your horizons and undertake a year abroad at one of our partner institutions. Living and studying in a different country can help you develop new insights and gain new interests, and with partner institutions in English-speaking countries you don’t even need to be bilingual!

Professional accreditation

Several of our degrees are accredited by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) (approved by the Health and Care Professions Council), or the Society of Sports Therapists (please check individual course listings to confirm which have accreditation).

Accreditation is an indicator of the high quality of our degrees. By studying an accredited degree you will be finishing university with the skills and experience you need to qualify for professional practice.

Skills for life

It’s always sad to say goodbye at the end of your time with us, but we wouldn’t be doing things properly if we didn’t get you ready for your future.

Whatever your degree, our modules equip you with the transferable skills and knowledge you need to flourish in the world of work. Communication skills, data analysis, team work, these are all things that you will need when the time comes to enter employment. Our modules are designed to help you develop these skills and put them in to practice throughout your studies.

Our School and the University’s student development department will help you create your CV, identify where to find opportunities to apply for, and practice for interviews, so you’ll be prepared for the next steps after graduation.

Additional qualifications

At Essex you have opportunities to gain additional qualifications alongside your degree, which will help your CV stand out from the crowd.

Some qualifications are embedded in to our degrees. Our BSc Sports Performance and Coaching includes a choice of the FA Level 1 in football or an NCFE Level 2 Certificate in the Principles and Preparation for Coaching Sport, which are taught as part of your first year.

Our BSc Sports Therapy students will gain a first aid qualification in their first year, which allows them to work pitch-side during matches. They then undertake a further qualification in Advanced Trauma, ready for their placements in their final year.

For our other degrees, further qualification opportunities are available throughout your time with our School, and we actively encourage and support our students to pursue extra qualifications. Options for further study include:

  • All Stars Cricket
  • FA Level 1 Futsal
  • B1 football (blind)
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • LTA Tennis
  • FA level 2 Football
  • Basketball

Employment after graduation

Our graduates have gone on to a range of diverse roles across the public and private sector. Some of the organisations and companies our graduates work at include:

  • Sports clubs including Leicester Tigers Rugby Club, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, and Ipswich Town FC.
  • Health providers and services such as NHS Frimley Park Hospital, Dartford NHS Trust, and The Abbeyfields Clinic.
  • Children's activity clubs and adult fitness companies as personal trainers, sports and fitness coaches, and in performance analysis roles.

Graduates have also begun pursuing academic career paths by undertaking postgraduate study.

As an alumnus of Essex, you will be a life-long member of the university and our School. The support we provide doesn’t stop when you graduate and we are always delighted to hear student stories from beyond Essex, or provide guidance or support on your new ventures.

Explore your career options

Expert staff

Our academics put their research in to practice by working with elite athletes and sports people from around the world and in a broad group of disciplines. They have coached players before golf tournaments, worked with athletes from Team GB for the London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, played professionally for rugby clubs, and worked with Premier League football teams.

These real-world experiences feed in to the classroom and influence our teaching and research, so you’ll benefit from cutting-edge expertise that’s been tried and tested in the field, or on the pitch.

Enhanced experiences

Along with our academics we also invite guest teachers and experts from organisations such as the Essex FA, Essex County Cricket and Saracens Rugby Community. Our Human Performance Unit also supports athletes and sports people in their training, and hosts visits from local schools, giving our students plenty of opportunities to put their skills to practical use.

Our proximity to London and position in the South East of England also allows us to use our skills in real-life situations across the region. First year sports therapy students can volunteer to attend the London Marathon with us, where we offer post-race support for runners for MS-UK and CAFOD. Our School also offers support at the Colchester half-marathon, and may arrange opportunities at events such as the Cambridge half marathon throughout the year.

Sports clubs, societies, and facilities

Our University is home to Essex Blades, the collective name for over 40 university sports clubs, all hosted by the Students' Union. From football, rugby and basketball, through to archery, trampolining, and ultimate Frisbee, there’s plenty of options whatever your sports interest.

And if sports isn’t quite your thing then the Students' Union is also home to several student-run societies that you may wish to join, such as the Physiotherapy Society, Gym and Fitness Society, and the St John’s Ambulance Society.

Some of these clubs and societies make use of the facilities in the Sport Centre on Colchester Campus, such as our outdoor courts, astroturf and grass pitches, and gym and activity studios, so you don't have to travel far to take part.

Part of our community

We might support different football teams, debate about the right way to carb up before a marathon (even if it’s a Netflix one), and compare and contrast the best places to go jogging. But at the end of the day we’re all united by our interests in sport and exercise, and that reflects on our School.

By joining our School you’ll be part of a community that is passionate about sport, health and physical rehabilitation. You’ll be learning and working alongside a group of people with shared interests, and staff who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about helping you learn more about your specialist subject. And don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you need to be good at sport!

Integrated Masters

Our integrated MSc Sport and Exercise Science is a four year degree that combines your undergraduate and Masters study in to one degree.

By undertaking an integrated Masters you will finish your university experience with a Master of Science. This can help you stand out in a competitive job market, and may give you a head start in some career paths that will need a Masters degree for future promotion. It also gives you a strong research background, which is ideal if you are already thinking about doing a research degree in the future.

Carrying out an integrated Masters means that you won't need to apply separately to continue after your final undergraduate year. You can stay in a department you are familiar with, working with academics who already know your background and experience, and who are aware of your plans for the future.

Graduate stories

The course really demonstrated to me the importance that science has on sporting performance. The combination of classroom teaching with practical laboratory sessions was essential, as it allows you to become active with the learning and how the objectives apply to athletic situations. 
Matthew Ross BSc Sport and Exercise Science

Applying for Physiotherapy

How much do I know about the course?

It's important to us that you know what you're signing up for. We'd expect that you've read our course pages carefully, and have done plenty of research about both life at Essex and the careers associated with our courses.

Working in health can be highly rewarding, but like any sector it also comes with challenges. It's important that you have an awareness of these challenges, and are up to speed with current issues. 

How can I demonstrate that I have what it takes?

You'll notice that many of our courses are underpinned by the NHS Constitution, as well as our own Essex values. The NHS Constitution is an important document which establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England.

This document very clearly explains that the patient is at the heart of everything the NHS does. We take this commitment seriously, and so are looking for people who have the potential to be future healthcare superstars.

If you are applying for a physiotherapy course, in your application you will need to briefly explain how you currently demonstrate these values.

My course requires an interview. What can I do to prepare?

For many people, the idea of being interviewed is quite daunting. There's no need to panic. We're on your side.

We aim to use the interview process to get to know you and to find out your plans for the future. Our interview panels are made up of current staff and students, service users, and local placement partners. Many of the panel will have been through a similar process at some point in their career, so they'll appreciate you'll probably be feeling nervous. Try to relax (as best as you can) and think of it more as a discussion with colleagues about why you'd like to join us.

As part of our interview process, many of our courses require you to undertake English and Maths tests so you can demonstrate that you have a basic level of literacy and numeracy. For courses with professional accreditation, the regulatory bodies will often set the standards for us.  You can find out if your course requires and English and Maths test by looking at our entry requirements on our course pages.

If you have a documented educational need, then you may be entitled to specific access arrangements for the literacy and numeracy tests. If you think that this applies to you, please contact our admissions team as soon as possible.

My course requires an English and/or Maths test. What do I need to revise?


The literacy test will assess your reading and writing skills.  A variety of questions will cover the following areas:


  • Spelling
  • Grammar and syntax
  • Presenting information in a logical sequence
  • Vocabulary
  • Punctuation
  • Common prefixes
  • Free writing 


  • Proofreading
  • Comprehension
  • Fact or opinion?


The numeracy test will assess your ability to apply number, to use measurements and to handle data.  Calculators can be used.  You will be given a total of 45 minutes in which to complete both tests.  Question topics will include:


  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Fractions, decimals and percentages -  calculations, conversions and equivalencies


  • Time, weight, distance, volume, money and conversion of units

Handling data

  • Extracting information from tables, diagrams, charts or graphs.

Feeling anxious about your numeracy or literacy skills?  Don't worry, once you are here, we have lots of support in place from our Student Support Services.

Does the university have practise tests I can do?

There are numerous resources you can use;

Literacy and numeracy practice tests (useful for all disciplines):



Mobile apps

There are a number of apps that can help you to develop your literacy and numeracy skills. The following are all free to use. In-app purchases are possible, but are neither required nor endorsed by the University of Essex, and the University cannot answer any queries relating to their use.

  • Elevate
  • Learndirect

Covid vaccination and your course

As you may be aware, the UK Government revoked legislation in 2022 that required all health and social care staff working in sites regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

This legislation would have applied to all students undertaking practice placements in affected settings during the course of their studies on any healthcare programme. However, this is no longer the case.

We continue to encourage applicants to be vaccinated before their arrival with us to protect themselves, their friends and families, their classmates, our staff, and those they will be working with on placement.  Some placement providers have indicated that they still require students on placement to be vaccinated for their own and others safety.

In our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, this includes students on the following courses:

  • BSc Physiotherapy
  • MSc Physiotherapy

Support and information is available to help make decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. You can also find helpful and up to date information regarding vaccination requirements on the NHS Employers website.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation with this matter.

Applying for other courses

If you apply for a Sports-related degree programme at Essex (Sports and Exercise Science; Sports Performance and Coaching; Sports Therapy), you may get invited to interview.

This provides you with an opportunity to visit the University, have a tour of the campus and our School, receive more information about the degrees, and talk to both staff and students. The interview itself allows you to ask questions as well, so you can be confident that Essex is the right university for you.

We look forward to welcoming you to our School so that we can share our passion for Sport, Exercise and Health.

Two girls shopping in Colchester
Fun on and off campus

There's plenty to keep you busy on campus but there's so much to explore and do in the local area too. Colchester is a vibrant town and London is not far away.

Read our student blog