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Students must have a GPA ≥5.5 in the first 8 units of the Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology degree

Unit rationale, description and aim

Research in the field of clinical exercise physiology is critical for providing clients and practitioners with evidence-based strategies for improving health and well-being. The aim of this unit is to provide a ‘capstone’ experience for students by affording them a learning experience that involves the completion of a research project of interest to the student and of relevance to the industry. Projects may take the form of an investigative study or systematic review with or without meta-analysis and will include the preparation of a manuscript for publication. The project will be conducted under the supervision of a member of staff. Students will apply knowledge and skills developed in previous units to identify a research question of interest and formulate an ethical and defensible research proposal. The Exercise Physiology Research Project units (EXSC681 Part A and EXSC682 Part B) are a 12-month commitment, with students enrolling in this unit (EXSC681 Part A) as a prerequisite to EXSC682 Part B.  

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
LO1Communicate the design of an evidence-based project in written and/or oral forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences (e.g. general public; clinical stakeholders; academic peers)GC1, GC3, GC4, GC10, GC11
LO2Critically appraise literature and contemporary concepts relevant to research in clinical exercise physiologyGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Use specialised knowledge and technical skills to plan and implement a substantial research-based project or piece of scholarshipGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO4Display appropriate standards of technical and ethical conduct in professional practice and researchGC1, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


Topics of the unit include:

  • identifying industry-relevant issues/problems
  • planning and conducting an evidence-based project
  • application of bibliographic and data management software packages
  • ethical practice in research project design, implementation and reporting
  • communication of project findings

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The andragogical structuring of learning experiences that comprise this unit of research training and work-integrated learning recognises and utilises contributions from both academic and practice settings. It intentionally integrates the learning arising in both settings to realise the knowledge and skills students need to move smoothly into, and be effective in, their selected graduate destination. Students will develop key research skills including problem solving and critical thinking as well as build upon their ability and initiative to undertake self-directed study. In this unit, students will work both independently and in collaboration with their supervisor(s). Students will be mentored and supported in their learning by their supervisor(s) who will provide regular guidance and maintain contact with the student. Mentorship and supervision are facilitated through face-to-face on-campus meetings, or by tele- or videoconference or electronic communication between student and ACU research supervisor(s). A range of student-centred learning and teaching strategies will be adopted such as: i) regular meetings between supervisor(s) and student; and ii) guidance regarding conduct of project, analyses, oral presentation and drafting of manuscript. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent adult learner and provide students with an authentic learning experience to make a positive impact on communities and the lives of healthy individuals and those with chronic and complex conditions.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit features authentic learning activities which are reflective of key requirements of clinical researchers’ practice. EXSC681 assessments have been developed to guide students in their finalisation of a capstone project that reflects an advanced level of professional knowledge and skills, enhanced critical analysis and professional writing style developed during the Master’s Thesis pathway. Assessments for the unit incorporate a constructivist approach providing for a broad range of tasks aligned to andragogic principles of adult learning facilitating choice and self-direction for the postgraduate student. The research proposal provides students with the opportunity to provide an initial proposal regarding their research project. The Human Research Ethics Committee project approval enables students to develop real world skills in ethical research trial design and application. The literature review provides students the opportunity to present a piece of scholarly academic work outlining the evidence, rationale and methodology underpinning their research project. Assessment tasks will be delivered, assessed and moderated according to University Policies and Procedures. All assessments will be submitted electronically.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Research Proposal:

Enables students to apply evidence-based approaches to project design, ethical decision making, statistical design and communication skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Human Research Ethics Committee project approval:

Students must submit the approval letter from the ACU HREC and the project’s assigned ethics approval number.


LO1, LO4

Literature Review:

Enables students to apply research-related skills to demonstrate literature searching, critique, interpretation and scholarship to draw conclusions.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Creswell, J. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (Fifth edition.; International student ed.). 300.72 CRE 

Bird, S. (2019). Research Methods in Physical Activity and Health. New York, NY: Routledge.

Research supervisors will also recommend texts relevant to individual research projects.

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