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Study information

Paediatric Exercise Physiology

Module titlePaediatric Exercise Physiology
Module codeESS3703
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Alan Barker (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Children and adolescents are not simply ‘mini-adults’. They are growing and maturing at their own rate, and consequently their physiological responses to exercise are profoundly different from adults. This module will explore the impact that growth and maturation has on physiological function and exercise performance, and equip you with the necessary skills to interpret data independent of body size and maturity status. The benefits (e.g. improved physical fitness) and risks (e.g. overtraining, injury) of participating in physical activity will also be explored. The module benefits from past and on-going research from the Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC). 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of the unique physiological responses of children and adolescents to exercise and enable you to discuss this in relation to age, sex, growth, and biological maturity. The module will be underpinned from past and on-going research in the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC), meaning the learning experience will not only be research informed, but you will be challenged to act and think like researchers.

The module content and the practical skills learnt are crucial for those looking towards a career aligned with working with child and adolescent populations (e.g. PE teacher, sports coach). In particular you will develop the following specific skills / knowledge of how to:

  • Detail how age, sex, body size and maturation impact fitness
  • Control for performance differences due to biological maturation and body size
  • Understand the risks (e.g. overtraining, injury) and benefits (e.g. fitness conditioning) of long-term training

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain the physiological responses to exercise in relation to growth, maturation and sex
  • 2. Evaluate the benefits and risks of young people’s participation in exercise and sport

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Analyse and evaluate research papers
  • 4. Comprehend, evaluate and interpret data
  • 5. Develop and present evidence-based arguments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Learn co-operatively and effectively with others
  • 7. Present information and ideas competently

Syllabus plan

Indicative content and structure includes:

  • Introduction, rationale and considerations
  • Growth and maturation: measurement and definitions
  • Growth and maturation: effect of exercise
  • Scaling for body size
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Aerobic fitness
  • Anaerobic fitness
  • Muscle strength
  • Exercise training
  • Overtraining and burnout
  • Injury
  • Development of the youth athlete

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching24Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching18Seminar and practical sessions
Guided Independent Study41Weekly reading and tasks
Guided Independent Study10Preparation for formative assessments
Guided Independent Study57Preparation for summative assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical essay1,250 words1-5, 7Written and oral
Oral presentation15-minute tutorialAllWritten and oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical essay 601,250 words1-5, 7 Written
Group oral presentation (Groups of four)4020 minutes + 10 minutes questions AllWritten

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Critical essay Critical essay 1-5, 7August/September assessment period
Group oral presentationIndividual oral presentationAllAugust/September assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Armstrong, N. (2007). Paediatric Exercise Physiology. In Advances in Sport and Exercise Sciences Series (edited by N. Spurway and D. MacLaren). London: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
  • Armstrong, N. and Van Mechelen, W. (2023). Oxford Textbook of Children’s Sport and Exercise Medicine (4th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Malina, R.M., Bouchard, C. and Bar Or, O. (2004). Growth, Maturation and Physical Activity (2nd edition).Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.
  • Rowland, T.W. (2005). Children’s Exercise Physiology (2nd edition). Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Exercise, physical activity, training, health, fitness, performance, children

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date