Understanding Sport and Exercise Psychology: Why International Perspectives Matter? Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre

Since commencing in 2015, the MSc Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology programme has attracted students from all over the world including the US, UK, Sri Lanka, Malta and China. The course has global appeal therefore, as the skills, knowledge and competencies developed on the programme are transferable the world over.

Beijing Sport University graduate Wen Yang had wonderful experiences in Ireland. Here on our Masters program she volunteered to help on GOGREEN (Going Outdoors: Gathering Research Evidence on Emotions and Nature) research initiatives. She helped present at the Irish Landscape forum, an interdisciplinary event held in Killaloe, next to the Lough Derg Blueways. She also helped build collaborations with the Beijing City Lab to help expand our international partners. Her interest in how nature could provide a resource for recovery for elite athletes and the broader community was inspired by her own athletic career. Wen is now studying for a PhD at the  Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In the words of Wen Yang: “I loved the day we stayed in Clarisford Park, learning in nature environment and listening to the birds could help us be more relaxed and engaged. Different speakers showed me diverse perspectives about sports psychology, because of their different cultures and backgrounds. I not only learned the psychological experience about Ireland, Germany, UK, but I also learned about ethical dilemmas, which really broadened my horizons. What really surprised me was that speakers are very critical, strict and serious during the questioning and testing process, but they are also very humorous and kind when we talked with them closely, and they are willing to share their opinions, and don’t mind giving help to students.”

时光飞逝,转眼我已经从利莫瑞克大学毕业了,虽然在利莫瑞克只呆了一年,但是在利莫瑞克大学读书的经历是我人生中最为宝贵的回忆,它是爱尔兰最美的校园和最受学生欢迎的大学,不仅仅是由于学校的学习和生活氛围,更是由于美丽的校园风景,在大学里漫步仿佛置身公园,一切都是那么平静和美妙。利莫瑞克大学坐落于香农河畔,校园里绿树成荫,无论是学习、散步还是跑步都会令人心旷神怡。作为运动心理专业的学生,我体验了不同的体育运动,接触了不同类型的运动员,也学习到了新颖的研究领域和方法。同时,利莫瑞克大学的国际化水平也让我受益颇多,班级里有13名爱尔兰本地生和6名国际生,作为唯一一名中国学生,这对于我的世界观和英语水平意义重大,我不仅加深了对爱尔兰这个国家的了解,还交到了来自世界不同国家的朋友,这是我最棒的收获。现在我已经开始了PhD学习,很感谢在Master期间,我的老师Mark、Tadhg、Mattew传授知识、指导学习,因为他们我更加坚定了学术道路,因为这个过程是愉悦的、值得的。所以想要去爱尔兰利莫瑞克大学读书的同学们千万不要犹豫,University of Limerick是超棒的选择

A US student on our Masters, who is from California, Jordan Baker-Blanc, said the “paramount takeaway for me was that all athletes have their own unique response to the use of different mental skills. There is no one size fits all approach to sports psychology, but through experimentation and communication with the athlete, the sport psychologist can find an approach that benefits any individual.” The programme influenced Jordan’s lifestyle personally: “I changed my daily routine- from incorporating mindfulness in the morning when I wake up; to utilizing visualization and positive self-talk before engaging in challenging tasks throughout the day.”

Summer School and Conference Events

A unique delivery model includes an annual Summer School for the Professional Issues and Ethics in Applied Psychology module which enables access to international experts from outside of the University of Limerick to contribute to the programme. The Summer School has to date included world-leading experts including Professor Juergen Beckmann, Dr Insa Nixdorf, Dr Raphael Nixdorf (Technical University of Munich), Dr Mustafa Sarkar (Nottingham Trent University) and Professor Paul Wyllemann (Vrije University Brussels), providing an international dimension for our programme in addition to their expertise in mental health, resilience and managing sport systems. A practitioner perspective has been demonstrated by Dr Denise Beckmann, Terri Morrissey (former CEO of the Psychological Society of Ireland), Dr Alan Ringland (IT Tralee) and Phil Moore (Sport Ireland Institute). The Summer School offers students the opportunity to network within business, industry, public and professional sectors whilst also honing the  skills they will need to achieve their long-term career goals.

(L-R) Dr Insa Nixdorf, Prof. Juergen Beckmann and Dr Raphael Nixdorf (copyright TUM)

Internationalisation and External Recognition

The excellence of our programme has been highlighted by our external examiner (2015-2019) and other experts, specifically in the context of internationalisation.

Professor Craig Mahoney (External Examiner 2015-2018)

“I have been very impressed with how this programme has developed since its validation just a few short years ago. The increased number of foreign students demonstrates its reach as an attractive programme of study for students from other national domains, and that is a true mark of the status of the programme, its staff and its delivery.”

Professor Jürgen Beckmann (Contributor to Summer School 2018-2019)

“No one country has a monopoly on expertise in the field of sport, exercise and performance and psychology so it is only right to seek international perspectives. Research is emerging rapidly so there is an imperative to access experts across the field and the students at PESS have been exemplary in their curiosity for learning.”

Application & Programme Requirements

Those students who are applying with a background in psychology and who meet the Psychological Society of the Ireland can apply for the MSc. in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology (accredited programme).

On the other hand, those with relevant degrees other than psychology or with an accumulation of prior learning and experience should look to the MSc  in Mental Skills and Mental Health in Sport and Exercise. Both programmes are identical with the exception of the entry qualifications and both have the same closing date: Dec. 1st, 2019 for the 1-year programme which commences in January 2020.

Entry to the programme is based on the online written application with no interview (see links here):

Additional Information


Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre (tadhg.macintyre@ul.ie) is an accredited sport psychologist in both Ireland (Sport Ireland Institute, Psychological Society of Ireland) and the UK (HCPC), course director of the graduate training programs in sport exercise and performance psychology at PESS and leads the GO GREEN initiative at the Health Research Institute, University of Limerick.  Follow on Twitter: @TadhgMacIntyre

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