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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SPSC1301 The Physiology of Exercise Testing and Performance

20 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Matthew Lancaster

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

SPSC1223: The Physiology of Exercise Testing and Performance, 10c,

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will explore what is considered ‘normal’ physiology in healthy humans at rest and in response to exercise. - You will study key elements defining the response to exercise: pulmonary responses; cardiovascular responses; and muscular performance. - You will learn about how each of these plays a role in determining the integrated response to exercise performance. The module is focussed on the practical assessment of these variables and uses several laboratory-based sessions to develop your practical skills and understanding of how to assess physiological responses.- Additionally, we will consider alternative field-based tests that may be used. - We will also consider issues with and develop skills in data processing, statistical analysis, validity and reproducibility of testing methods.


The main aims of this module are to introduce the normal responses to exercise of different critical physiological systems as well as typical practical ways to assess key variables of interest to understanding the normal physiological response to exercise. Additional content covered includes the safe handling of subjects during exercise testing developing key professional skills as well as skills in mathematical analysis and processing of data.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Describe normal pulmonary, cardiovascular and muscular function in healthy humans;
2. Explain the key features of a normal physiological response of the pulmonary, cardiovascular and muscular systems to the challenge of exercise;
3. Identify and describe, how to conduct laboratory or field-based techniques that can be used to assess key measures of physiological function;
4. Use the procedures and describe what risks need to be considered when screening participants prior to performing any exercise test;
5. Demonstrate the ability to interpret test data, identifying ‘normal’ values as they relate to physiological function;
6. Explain the importance of validity, reliability and reproducibility in relation to assessing physiological function and exercise testing;
7. Compare the outcomes of different tests to appraise the limitations to human performance;
8. Explain the key principles of exercise training.

Skills outcomes
Subject handling and data protection.
Experience and knowledge of subject-specific skills.


The why, how and who of testing – appropriate screening and processing of subjects and their data as well as identifying appropriate tests and limits.
Laboratory vs. field testing
Anthropometry and body composition testing.
Processing and analysis of data with reference to standards.
Assessing pulmonary function – lung function testing.
Use of normative equations.
The cardiovascular system at rest – normal resting blood pressure, heart rate and the ECG
Assessment of cardiovascular function during exercise to identify limits and guide intensity of exercise.
Line fits and functions for analysis
The muscular system and its response to exercise;
Assessment of muscle strength & power;
Logarithms and powers in analysis and physiological processes.

Assessing endurance performance;
Curves and multiple line fits for analysis.
Principles of training and training programmes.

Laboratory practical sessions (5 x 2 hr sessions)
- Assessment of anthropometry and body composition
- Assessment of resting pulmonary function;
- Assessment of cardiovascular function;
- Assessment of lactate threshold;
- Assessment of the integrated response to maximal exercise

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
Group learning12.002.00
Independent online learning hours20.00
Private study hours148.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Each class will have an associated pre-class online exercise and post-practical class online data analysis exercise to complete.

The private study time also includes time to complete the group assessment task. Extra reading and demonstration videos of practical techniques are also part of what the students are expected to study.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In course activities every 2-3 weeks will have brief automated then follow-up feedback sessions. Practical guidance on activities will be given in the five practical classes. Feedback on the presentation will be given at the presentation and by pro-forma after this.

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
Group ProjectField testing project - 10 minute presentation25.00
PortfolioPortfolio of analysis tasks associated with each practical (5 tasks)75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

For the resit of the group task coursework an individual activity selecting an appropriate field test and identifying key measures, reliability and applicability will be used as an alternate assessment.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/12/2021


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