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EXSC242 Exercise Physiology: Adaptation to Exercise and the Environment

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit extends the basic knowledge gained in the prior units of exercise physiology. In this unit, human physiological systems will be further explored in the context of exercise and related stress, with specific focus on the physiological and biochemical responses of human performance in different environments and stimuli. In developing an understanding of complex physiological control mechanisms during exercise, students will be directed towards current research and contemporary techniques in the field. Research methodology and ethical practice will be embedded in the unit, with fitness and performance testing expanded upon using problem-based, research-driven learning approaches.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate awareness of medical conditions and injuries that can arise during exercise testing, including strategies to minimise the risk of untoward events and environmental/procedural risk factors (G3). 

LO2 - Apply measurement principles and techniques used in exercise physiology, utilising instruments and technologies that assist in evaluating human performance, to collect, analyse, interpret and report physiological data (GA5, GA7,GA8, GA9)  

LO3 - Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively within a team environment (GA7)  

LO4 - Analyse critically and apply contemporary theories of exercise physiology that describe and predict responses to exercise stress (GA4, GA5,).

LO5 - Describe and explain human physiological responses and adaptations to acute and chronic exercise and environmental stress (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 


  • Environmental physiology:  
  • Thermoregulatory stress  
  • Hypobaric (altitude) conditions  
  • Hyperbaric (diving) conditions  
  • Disuse/microgravity/detraining conditions  
  • Molecular biology and genetics in exercise  
  • Biochemical adaptations to training  
  • Exercise and the endocrine system  
  • Immune system and exercise (including overtraining)  
  • Central and peripheral fatigue  
  • Ergogenics and sports performance  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, cooperative learning, web-based learning, reflective/critical thinking activities, and problem-based, research-driven learning approaches, 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 development of practical skills in exercise testing and interpretation. 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 final exam to assess student learning of unit content; and written reports based on project work to assess application of this learning and its communication.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group written assignment:  

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to describe and communicate the aims and methods of a project by working collaboratively. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA3, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Individual written assignment:  

Enables students to demonstrate their application of knowledge and skills by designing, conducting and communicating a project and its outcomes, working both collaboratively and autonomously. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Written examination 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of unit content. 


LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

McArdle, W.D., Katch, F.I., & Katch, V.L. (2014). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance (8th ed.). Baltimore: Lippincott William and Wilkins. 


American College of Sports Medicine, Farrell, P.A., Joyner, M.J., & Caiozzo, V.J. (Eds.). (2011). ACSM's Advanced Exercise PhysiologyBaltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.  


Australian Institute of Sport, Tanner, R., & Gore, C. (2013) Physiological tests for elite athletes (2nd Ed.). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.  


Mazzeo, R.S. (2008). Physiological responses to exercise at altitude: an update. Sports Medicine, 38(1), 1-8.  


Powers, S.K & Howley, E.T. (2015) Exercise physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.  

Roth, S. M. (2007). Genetics primer for exercise science and health. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.  


Winter, E.M. (2006). Sport and exercise physiology testing guidelines: the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences guide (Vol 1). London: Routledge.  


Winter, E.M. (2006). Sport and exercise physiology testing guidelines: the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences guide (Vol 2). London: Routledge. 

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