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EXSC120 Mechanical Bases of Exercise Science

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

An understanding of the mechanical principles underlying human movement, based on theoretical and best practice approaches, is required for the application of the science of exercise for health, fitness and sports performance. This unit introduces students to fundamental biomechanical concepts applicable to the study of exercise and sports science, specifically focusing on external forces and their effects on human movement and linear and angular kinematics and kinetics. This aim of the unit is to provide students with an understanding of basic mechanical principles and how these may be applied to human motion in a variety of contexts, as well as developing basic data collection and analysis skills fundamental to both qualitative and quantitative biomechanical assessment. These knowledge and skills are consistent with the professional standards of several accreditation bodies, including those for Exercise Science.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe and relate fundamental biomechanical principles to the analysis of various forms of human movementGC1, GC11
LO2Apply fundamental biomechanical principles to human movement in a variety of contexts including exercise, sport, health, activities of daily living and injuryGC2, GC9, GC10, GC12
LO3Describe the methods utilised in biomechanics and their advantages and limitations, including qualitative and quantitative analysesGC1, GC10, GC12
LO4Use biomechanical data collection and analysis systems to analyse human movementGC7, GC8, GC10, GC12


Topics will include: 

  • Biomechanics and its methods
  • Linear kinematics
  • Angular kinematics
  • Movement and forces
  • Linear kinetics
  • Angular kinetics
  • Work, power and energy
  • Centre of Gravity
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Introduction to applied biomechanics (including topics such as movement analysis concepts, technology, sport technique)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, individual and group activities, cooperative learning and web-based learning, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for the development and application of practical skills in the analysis of human movement. These strategies will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit, as well as professional practice standards. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used including: a mid-semester quiz to assess the understanding and application of knowledge; a presentation to assess the application of key skills and the synthesis of sourced information with unit content; and a written examination to assess student learning of unit content.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Mid-Semester Quiz

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding and application of basic biomechanical principles


LO2, LO3

Mechanical Changes Presentation

Enables students to demonstrate the application of key practical skills and the synthesis of sourced information with unit content


LO3, LO4

Written Examination 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of unit content.


LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Hall, S. J. (2022). Basic Biomechanics (9th ed.). New York, USA: McGraw-Hill.

Enoka, Roger, M. (2015). Neuromechanics of human movement (5th ed). Champaign, IL:. Human Kinetics.

Griffiths, I.W. (2006). Principles of Biomechanics and Motion Analysis. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins,.

McGinnis, P.M. (2021). Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise (4th ed). Champaign, IL:. Human Kinetics,

Hamill, J., Knutzen, K.M. & Derrick, T. (2021). Biomechanical basis of human movement (5th ed). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Bradshaw, E.J., and Le Rossignol, P. (2004). Anthropometric and biomechanical field measures of floor and vault ability in 8 to 14 year old talent-selected gymnasts. Sports Biomechanics3, 249-262.

Burkett, B. (2019). Applied Sports Mechanics (4rd Ed). Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.

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