Want to be a successful Sport & Exercise Scientist? Choose your path wisely! – Brian Carson

So, you are interested in becoming a Sport & Exercise Scientist? Many of you will have already indicated your preferences to the Central Applications Office (CAO), others are preparing ‘change of mind’ submissions (before July 1st) while some of you are in the early stages of considering your options for 2018 and beyond. First, I will discuss what I believe should influence your choice of programme and position you for success in the future, then I will outline what I believe a sport and exercise sciences student needs to bring to the party to realise your dreams.

What you should expect?

“Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn”

A good programme will allow you put the theory you are learning in classroom-based sessions into practice. This should include practical sessions in both laboratory and field-based settings. Somewhere you can engage in the cool stuff, like using the latest cutting edge technology to measure physiological, psychological and biomechanical characteristics that are influenced by exercise training and predict exercise/sport performance. This is an opportunity for you to ‘do’ and help you to gain competencies and skills that you can use when you practise as a Sport and Exercise Scientist.

Of paramount importance is the opportunity to undertake an industry based work placement for a significant period of time. This will give you the opportunity to inform your future career choices by immersing yourself in your area of interest. This may reaffirm your career aspirations or change your direction, both very valuable outcomes, but more importantly, it will allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge, develop your competencies as a Sport Scientist and transferable skills, which will ultimately enhance your employability. You will also have someone who can write a meaningful reference for you for future employment or further education opportunities. The length of the placement is important, as this dictates the depth of your learning and the degree of responsibility an employer will release to you. So look for something that deals in months rather than weeks!

You should also expect access to appropriate facilities. This includes laboratories equipped to facilitate the applied and practical sessions outlined above, support your research interests and provide an environment to pursue and develop your own sporting interests and expertise. However, as important as state of the art facilities are, more important, in my opinion at least, are people. If a programme has the right people, inspiring, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and experienced tutors, who care about and advocate for their students, then you have chosen the right programme. For under their guidance, you will have the opportunity to excel.

What will be expected of you?

All of the above is important when choosing a programme, but if you are to excel, here is what is required of you! You must engage with your tutors, in class, in the lab, in tutorials, at least some of the learning will happen there. But! You must engage outside of scheduled time. Be self-directed, immerse yourself in your topic, volunteer to participate in research, offer to work with athletes and teams in your local community, test your classmates’ performance, experiment with your own nutritional strategies, be critical, practice. These experiences will enhance your learning, develop your competencies and allow you to differentiate yourself from the rest of your peers. That is what will ultimately stand out about you as a Sport and Exercise Scientist, not just the honours and distinctions.

Good luck in your search and your academic pursuits! The link below might be a good place to start…
BSc. Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Limerick

For Further Information:

  • Listen to one of our students in the video link talking about studying Sport and Exercise Sciences in UL – VIDEO
  • Listen to Brian Cunniffe, Graduate of BSc. Sport and Exercise Sciences, UL 2003, and Performance Lead in the English Institute of Sport discussing the application of Sport Science in high performance sport – VIDEO


Dr. Brian Carson is a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and is Course Director for the BSc. Sport and Exercise Sciences. View Brian’s profile here


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