Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Physical Activity for Health MSc, PgDip, PgCert

Awards: MSc, PgDip, PgCert

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Physical Activity for Health

For me, the best part of the course was being taught by world-leading experts in the field of physical activity and health. The tutorials were always interactive with group work or class discussions part of every class. We were encouraged to develop our own thoughts and opinions on important topics and we were never lectured at for hours and hours! The teaching staff come from a variety of backgrounds (e.g. physiology, psychology, and epidemiology), so you will be able to work in a variety of areas based on your interests and experience.

Naomi Burn MSc Physical Activity for Health 2016

Insufficient physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for death worldwide. The levels of inactivity evident across the world, in both adults and adolescents, make physical inactivity a pandemic and a global public health issue.

The MSc Physical Activity for Health is open to recent graduates, intercalating medical students and the existing national and international workforce. It is designed to provide postgraduate level, academic training in the area of physical activity and public health from a range of disciplines including:

  • sport and exercise sciences
  • health sciences
  • psychology
  • epidemiology
  • physiology

The MSc is the only dedicated postgraduate degree in this area in Scotland. The programme is directed and delivered by members of the international renowned Physical Activity for Health Research Centre.

As such, the teaching activities of the MSc link closely with and are informed by ongoing world-leading research. You will receive teaching and mentoring from researchers who are active in the field.

The MSc Physical Activity for Health will equip you with the critical knowledge of, and the ability to critique, the current research evidence relating to the role of physical activity in improving and maintaining health.

The degree will also provide you with specialist measurement and research skills to investigate issues in the field, and a broad range of transferable intellectual and study skills designed to foster your development as an independent learner.

The MSc Physical Activity for Health can be studied full-time or part-time and there are three possible exit levels: Certificate, Diploma, or Master's, providing you with the flexibility to study at a pace that suits you.

Please note – intercalated medical students (after at least three years of their Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB/MBBS) programmes) can apply for entry onto the one-year full-time programme of study only.

The programme combines compulsory and optional courses, which make use of:

  • traditional lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • some laboratory and field practicals

    Assessment involves a combination of:

  • essays

  • reports
  • case studies
  • examinations
  • oral presentations
  • practical demonstrations

Compulsory courses

  • Assessment of Physical Activity and Body Composition
  • Physical Activity for Health
  • Physical Activity for Health Across the Lifespan
  • Psychology of Physical Activity
  • Research Process
  • Understanding Research Concepts

Optional courses

Students will also choose 30 credits of optional courses selected from across the university. Our students take courses related to:

  • Sport Management and Policy
  • Human Performance Science
  • Exercise Rehabilitation and Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Public Health

Example optional courses our students have taken in previous years include:

  • Sport, Society and International Development
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine
  • Preventive Dance Medicine
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Developing and Evaluating Complex Public Health Interventions


To complete the MSc programme, you will also produce an independently-researched dissertation. Please note – intercalating medical students may be required to submit their Dissertation at an earlier time-point than other students on the programme.

There has been an increasing interest in the area of Physical Activity for Health. The skills you will develop in this programme will enhance your opportunities for employment in careers in many areas related to physical activity.

Recent graduates have taken up roles in:

  • Physical Activity and Sports Development
  • Health Promotion (for example, within workplaces and local authorities)
  • Health and Fitness Industry (for example, within gyms and sporting facilities)
  • Physical Activity and Health Consultancy
  • Research positions (for example, within academic and non-governmental organisations)
  • Teaching positions

Many of our graduates have chosen to extend their studies by undertaking a Doctoral degree following graduation. Following completion of their PhD, several have progressed into Lectureship positions or stayed within academia in funded Research Assistant roles.

For any intercalated medical students, we anticipate that you will return to your medical studies on completion of the programme, and utilise your new knowledge and skills to widen your career options.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline such as sport and exercise science, physical education, health sciences, psychology or physiology.

We may also consider your application if you have equivalent academic qualifications and significant professional training and experience; please contact us to check before you apply.

Applicants currently undertaking a medical degree and seeking to intercalate on the MSc Physical Activity for Health will be eligible after at least three years of their Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB/MBBS) programmes, or equivalent and will need to have achieved a minimum standard equivalent to a UK 2:1 honours degree at first attempt.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

For those who are intercalated medical students, there is a possibility that enrolling in this MSc could affect your future funding entitlements for your medicine degree. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to consult with your funding body to confirm how you will finance your intercalated year and ensure there are no implications for funding the rest of the undergraduate medical degree after intercalating.

Tuition fees

Moray House Country Scholarship

Moray House School of Education and Sport is pleased to offer five £10,000 scholarships to study a Master’s degree programme commencing in September 2024. These will be based on merit and available to applicants from eligible countries.

Moray House Access Scholarship

Moray House School of Education and Sport is pleased to offer a scholarship covering tuition fees and living costs for one student. The scholarship is for UK nationals domiciled in the UK, from backgrounds or groups which are underrepresented in our School.

GREAT scholarship: Mexico

One GREAT scholarship will be available to applicants from Mexico who apply for 2024 entry. This award is for £10,000 towards postgraduate taught (Masters) degree tuition. Further details on eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the GREAT scholarship website.

India Merit Scholarship

The University is offering a new international scholarship for the most academically gifted Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Masters students applying from India. These awards cover £5,000 towards tuition fees for PGT Masters students studying on campus during the 2024/25 academic year. The Scholarships will be tenable for the first year of study only and will be automatically deducted from your student tuition fee balance. 

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

(Updated 15 May 2024 to include India Merit Scholarship information)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Chloë Williamson
  • Contact:
  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Old Moray House
  • Holyrood Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and be complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 01 November 2023 19 December 2023
2 11 December 2023 28 February 2024
3 04 March 2024 16 May 2024
4 06 June 2024 30 July 2024

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Chloë Williamson
  • Contact:
  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Old Moray House
  • Holyrood Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 8AQ