MSc Sports Performance at UL – Bridging the gap between research and practice: Dr. Mark Lyons

On 28th May (15.00pm) as part of the University of Limerick’s virtual open day, Dr Mark Lyons will give a presentation titled ‘MSc Sports Performance – bridging the gap between research and practice’. The presentation will provide an overview of the programme and how it seeks to bridge the research-practice gap and will be followed by a Q & A session for any prospective candidates interested in the programme.  Online applications for the programme in 2021 will open on June 1st and will remain open until the end of September 2020.

The MSc in Sports Performance is a full-time one-year or part-time two-year postgraduate programme and was winner of the 2019 GradIreland Higher Education Award (Best Postgraduate Course in Health Science Category). The programme prepares successful graduates for a career in sports performance analysis specialising in strength & conditioning, video analysis and nutrition.

The programme is offered by the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. The theoretical, laboratory and applied aspects of the programme are delivered in an outstanding teaching and learning environment whilst also utilising the most-up-to-date technologies available in the field.

Programme Aims & Accreditation

The MSc Sports Performance programme aims to increase understanding of advanced practices in sport performance by appreciating as well as challenging current practices and designing innovative alternatives.

Wk 17 Mark Lyons PESS Physiology Lab2

The course includes professional Strength and Conditioning Accreditation and students can also attain as part of the course International Society of Performance Analysis in Sport (ISPAS) Video Analysis Accreditation. Students are encouraged and supported to complete the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Award as well as International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) Accreditation through the programme.

Full-Time Programme Outline:

Wk 17 FT prog 

Part-Time Programme Outline:

Wk 17 PT prog

Work Placement

As part of the programme, students are provided with an experience of working in a high performance environment before they graduate. The placement programme offers students the opportunity to develop contacts within business, industry, public and professional sectors whilst also helping students to develop the skills they will need to achieve their long-term career goals. Local, national and international placements are available for students with our strategic partners and organisations including Statsports, Redback Biotek, GAA, Coaching Ireland, Oxford United FC, Rugby Canada, Western Province Rugby / Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, Oriam Scotland, Triathlon Ireland and Munster & Connaught Rugby to name just some.

Progression & Career Pathways

The MSc Sports Performance programme started in 2012 and has graduated over 144 students in this period (average of 24 per year). The data available from the First Destinations Survey (supported by the Higher Education Authority) for that 2013 graduating class up to and including the 2016 graduating class are as follows

The programme has an outstanding record in that on average 83% of graduating students have found relevant work and/or career development opportunities either in Ireland or Abroad. Graduates from the programme are working in a number of other strength and conditioning, coaching as well as video / performance analysis roles. A number of students have become owners/managers of businesses related to Sport Science / Performance Analysis whilst others have progressed to further scholarship and PhD study.


EU Full-time fees = €6,225. EU Part-time fees = Euro €4,180 per annum x 2 yrs = €8,360. Non-EU Full-time fees = €11,992. Non-EU Part-time fees = Euro €8,271 per annum x 2 yrs = €16,542.

Some scholarships are available directly from the university and applicants can check the following link for updates when applying

Application & Programme Requirements

We provide two entry options to this programme. The normal route is for applicants with a ratified BSc 2:2 honours (Level 8 – National Qualifications Authority of Ireland) or higher, with preference given to applicants with a degree in a discipline related to sport and exercise sciences (e.g. physical education, strength and conditioning, kinesiology, physiotherapy, physical therapy, nutrition, biomedical sciences).

Alternatively, we accept people without a related degree, if they can show significant experience in either playing sport at a high level or significant coaching / mentoring experience with athletes in a high-performance sporting environment. This route, termed, Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) requires a supporting ≤1000 word statement uploaded with the application. RPL experience needs to be considerable and supplementary evidence of this work provided within the application documentation.

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

Supplementary evidence (e.g. qualification transcripts, certificates, workshop attendance, CV & birth certificate) needs to be provided with the application. We would also like applicants to have some experience of research/ competing/ working/ coaching/ /managing athletes in sport. Applicants need to mention any experience gained professionally or sports played as well as any other relevant experience gained.

Internationalisation & External Recognition

Since 2012, the MSc Sports Performance programme has attracted students from all over the world including the US, UK, France, India, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Poland and China to name some. The course has worldwide appeal therefore, as the skills, knowledge and competencies developed on the programme are transferable the world over.

In 2016, the International Student Barometer Survey of 5500 International students studying across the seven Irish universities found UL to be the number one university in Ireland in terms of providing the best student experience and best student support. Some of these supports have been recognised by our external examiners (Professor Gareth Irwin and Professor Craig Sale) specifically in the context of this programme.

Professor Gareth Irwin

“The level of academic work and the student progression is first class…. the students are highly complementary about the staff and the level of support and understanding displayed by members of staff – this is impressive. It is clear that staff go out of their way to ensure the students’ academic and welfare is at the fore”.

Professor Craig Sale

“The students were extremely complimentary about the staff and it is clear that teaching staff have managed to create a very supportive environment for their students, which is a testament to their integrity and professionalism. There is clear evidence of staff going the extra mile for their students, which is a distinct strength of this programme”.

Student Testimonials

Alongside the views of the external examiners who judge the academic quality of the programme, deliver and assessment, here some testimonial evidence from guest speakers on the course, recent graduates and employers:

Kevin Craddock (IRFU) – Delivers Content on the Programme

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with the students on the MSc in Sports Performance. They are such a positive, enthusiastic and engaging group. The staff, facilities, environment and culture of sports performance around UL has created a fantastic learning environment for students”.

Darren Murray (F.A.I Football Coach & Development Tutor) – Previous Student:

“I enjoyed the variety of the program, the knowledgeable lecturers as well as the networking opportunities with other students on the course…”  

Paudie McCarthy (Production Team Leader at STATS) – Previous Student:

“The MSc provided me with an excellent opportunity to upskill technically and learn more about the employment areas I intend to progress in. The hands-on nature of the course meant that I left with a robust understanding of core sports performance principles in video performance analysis, strength & conditioning and nutrition.”

Oisin O Dalaigh (Video and Performance Analyst, Connaught Rugby) – Previous Student:

“The structure of the course provided us with knowledge on a broad range of aspects influencing the performance of athletes. The facilities and equipment available in PESS also enhanced our learning as it enabled us to practically apply the classroom content, while gaining valuable experience. One of the most positive factors of the course was learning from all the other students … the course did a great job in promoting this learning environment.”

Mark O’Donovan (Rowing Ireland Strength and Conditioning Education Officer) – Previous Student:

“During the MSc in Sports Performance I gained a wide variety of knowledge including how monitor and measure performance parameters for different athletes in different sports with sport specific demands. This enables me to develop scientific based intervention’s to an individual or team…the work placement opportunity was also an invaluable experience for me as I got to work in a professional rugby organisation in Ireland….”

Gary McGrath (Sport Scientist Oriam Sports Scotland) – Placement Provider

“it was great to have Shilpa over for her placement at the start of October. She was very engaged and was very keen to learn. We would like to continue to work with ye and equally I hope also that she got a lot from it”.

Course Director

Dr Mark Lyons PhD
Course Director – MSc Sports Performance
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
University of Limerick

Tel: 00-353-61202819
Fax: 00-353-61202814
View Mark’s profile: Web or  Researchgate or LinkedIn

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