Moray House School of Education and Sport

Programme structure

Physical Activity for Health can be studied full-time or part-time and there are three possible exit levels: Certificate, Diploma, or Masters. This flexibility to study at a pace that suits you will help our goal of building workforce to tackle the inactivity pandemic.

Video: Hear from Programme Director Dr Graham Baker of MSc Physical Activity for Health
Dr Graham Baker, Programme Director of MSc Physical Activity for Health at Moray House School of Education and Sport gives an overview of the programme.

Scotland was one of the first countries in Europe to develop a national physical activity strategy, Let’s Make Scotland More Active (The Scottish Executive, 2003), which aims to increase and maintain the proportion of physically active people in Scotland.

Master's degree (180 credits)

A Master's degree at the University of Edinburgh is 180 credits. 

The first 60 credits make up a Postgraduate Certificate, consisting of three of the 20 credit compulsory courses: Assessment of Physical Activity and Body Composition, Physical Activity for Health and Psychology of Physical Activity. To obtain the PG Cert, students are required to pass at least 40 credits with a mark of at least 40% with an overall average of at least 40% for the 60 credits of study. Please note that our PG Certificate route runs from September to February each year, which is slightly longer than a standard PG Certificate programme.

The next 60 credits (totally 120 credits) make up a Postgraduate Diploma. Assuming an average mark of 50% or more is achieved overall and at least 80 credits are passed with a mark of at least 50% in each of the courses that make up these credits, students may progress onto the dissertation component.  

The dissertation is an independent research study which makes up the final 60 credits of the programme. Successful completion of the 180 credits leads to the Master's award (MSc).

The programme combines compulsory and option courses, which will make use of traditional lectures, tutorials, seminars and some laboratory and field practicals. The Master's degree culminates in a supervised dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

Option courses:

Students will also take 30 credits of option courses (subject to availability and suitability for the programme). Students tend to select available courses from programmes within the Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences related to Sport Management and Policy, Human Performance Science and Exercise Rehabilitation and Medicine. However, some students also select courses from other programmes across the University related to Psychology and Public Health.

Example option courses taken in previous years by our students include:

Please note that courses and course content may change each year.

* If you are studying part-time intermittent, optional courses offered in other Schools may have different fees.  * denotes courses offered in other Schools. 

Course descriptions (2022-23)

Teaching and assessment

Staff employ an eclectic mix of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, seminars, discussion and independent and group work to provide a stimulating teaching environment.  In order to maximise the quality of the student experience, we aim to maintain a cohort size that facilitates optimal engagement between staff and students. 

Courses will be assessed by a range of methods to give students the opportunity to develop key graduate attributes. Assessment will often take the form of formative work (for example, in-class feedback on a journal paper critique) which provides students with on-going feedback, as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit. Assessment will include essays, written examinations, case study reports, oral presentations, and practical assessment relating to health. All courses will be supported by an online learning environment.

Enthusiastic, friendly and expert instructors - Interactive and relaxed atmosphere made learning easier.


The dissertation is a piece of independent research which allows each student the opportunity to identify a research or professional practice issue in the area of physical activity for health and undertake an independent research study to address it.

This process will involve planning, execution, and interpretation and write-up of the study, as well as an oral presentation. Studies may be based in the field, laboratory or desk. The assessment incorporates an oral presentation and a journal article submission write-up.

Students will be supported through specialist research training clinics at the beginning of the process, and by a designated supervisor through individual and/or group tutorials. Where appropriate, students will have the opportunity to link with existing research projects in the area.

Potential dissertation topics are listed below:

  • The prevalence and nature of sedentary behaviour in school children.
  • The use of physical activity trackers in measuring and motivating physical activity behaviour.
  • The relationships between physical activity and mental health and psychological well-being.
  • Understanding physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour in University students.
  • How to communicate physical activity messages to different populations.
  • The impact of conducting physical activity in ‘blue space’ on health and well-being.

This is not an exhaustive list and where possible students will be supported to undertake a project in an area of personal interest.

Part-time study and Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

There are various options for studying these programmes. The MSc, PG Diploma and PG Certificate can all be completed on a full or part-time basis.

If you are already in employment within the field, you can choose to take individual courses that contribute towards your CPD. Teaching times are carefully considered to accommodate part-time study so that you can fit studying around your work and personal commitments.

Please contact the Programme Director to find out more about part-time study or CPD.

Physical Activity for Health Research Centre

This Masters programme draws expertise from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, led by the internationally-renowned Professor Nanette Mutrie MBE, in the Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences.

Members of the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre are currently undertaking research in:

  • The promotion of walking
  • Reducing sedentary time
  • Physical activity in young people
  • Physical activity for people with medical conditions
  • The role of the environment in physical activity promotion

This research informs teaching, ensuring students are engaging with the most up-to-date research issues. Masters students are encouraged to participate in current research taking place in this active research centre.

Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC)


Students will benefit from the excellent psychology and physiology laboratory facilities in the Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences.

The University also offers world-class library facilities and access to online and print journals.

The University is ranked among the best universities in the world for its Sport and Exercise facilities. Students can participate in any of the more than 60 sport societies on offer, including everything from fencing to skydiving, horse riding to ice hockey, rugby to rock climbing.

Related links

Sport and Exercise

Edinburgh University Sport Union