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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SPSC1224 Exercise Bioenergetics

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Matthew Lancaster

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Suitable background in Biology (A-level or equivalent) and / or Physical Education (A-level or equivalent).

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Exercise requires energy, and performance is determined by the ability to optimise the provision of this energy and conversion to mechanical work. This module will explore the biochemical and physiological basis of ‘normal’ muscle function in healthy humans along with the response to exercise. You will study variation in muscle types and how this relates to their function. You will develop an understanding of metabolism - providing the energy for exercise. You will learn how muscle metabolism operates at rest but then responds to differing types of exercise stress in a coordinated manner optimising performance. You will also consider genetic variability and the potential impact of this on exercise capacity and performance. The module also includes laboratory-based sessions to develop your practical skills and understanding of how to assess muscle biochemical function and composition.


This module will build foundational knowledge regarding what is considered ‘normal’ physiological function in healthy humans at rest and the response to physical activity/exercise. The module will address the differences in structure and physiology that underlies muscular function; the basis for fuel selection in anaerobic and aerobic exercise; and the control mechanisms that regulate the response to exercise. It will also briefly explore genetic variation and their potential role in determining capacity for, and response to, exercise.

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Provide an outline of the differences between skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle structure;
- Provide a summary of how muscle structure relates to function, and energetic demands;
- Provide a description of ‘normal’ catabolic biochemical process in healthy humans that produce ATP;
- Provide an overview of how such metabolic processes respond to the challenge of exercise;
- Examine the differences in the metabolic response to different types of sporting/exercise performance;
- Detail the regulatory pathways that determine substrate use and metabolic response to exercise;
- Provide practical experience of a basic biochemical assay and key laboratory techniques;
- Provide guidance on how to interpret laboratory-generated data to evaluate ‘normal’ biochemical function and factors that relate to sporting performance;
- Consider the importance of integration of structure and biochemical phenotype in determining physiological function and exercise performance;
- Give critical consideration of individual cases by investigating the key metabolic issues for a set event or exercise stress.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and components of muscle;
- Demonstrate an understanding of ‘normal’ metabolic process producing ATP in healthy humans;
- Demonstrate an understanding of how metabolism responds to the challenge of exercise;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the differences in metabolic response to differing exercise demands and be able to discuss these in relation to specific example cases;
- Give details of the regulatory pathways of energy metabolism in muscle;
- Interpret laboratory-generated data to evaluate ‘normal’ biochemical function and factors that relate to exercise performance;
- Explain the importance of biochemical phenotype in determining physiological function and exercise performance.

Skills outcomes
Practical laboratory skills.


Taught content areas:
1. Skeletal muscle structure and function;
2. Molecular motors as the basis of movement;
3. Cardiac and smooth muscle specialisation;
4. Basic protein structure and metabolism;
5. How enzymes work;
6. Carbohydrate metabolism and ballistic exercise;
7. Metabolic responses to sprint exercise;
8. The basis of aerobic activity – oxidative phosphorylation;
9. Lipid metabolism and endurance exercise;
10. Control of metabolism;
11. Energy balance;
12. Influence / importance of nutrition;
13. Biochemistry of the middle-distance athlete;
14. Biochemistry of the endurance athlete;
15. Nutritional ergogenic aids.

Each unit will consist of 2 online videocasts with every week an online interactive exercise and on alternate weeks a live discussion session.

Fieldwork Practical Exercise.

Energy balance - Group work logging physical activity and dietary intake.

Laboratory practical sessions (1 x 3 hour sessions)
- The effect of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) concentration on reaction rate.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours15.00
Private study hours55.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

A series of 6 short videos demonstrating and discussing the impact of differing exercise types on metabolic substrate use will be used for supplementary online learning. Additionally formative MCQs and a metabolic simulation task will be available.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Online formative MCQs and exercises allow the students to self-assess progress. The practical worksheets will be returned subsequent to each practical for feedback.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Reportin-course report40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment24 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/12/2021


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