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Unit rationale, description and aim

To be effective allied healthcare practitioners, accredited exercise physiologists must be able to integrate and synthesise clinically relevant information including knowledge of pathophysiology, symptomatology and co-morbidities, multidisciplinary models of clinical care including different treatment modalities, and evidence-based clinical assessment and exercise interventions to inform therapeutic management of individuals with chronic and complex conditions. This unit presents current medical and scientific knowledge of cancer, endocrine and metabolic conditions and other chronic and complex conditions indicated for exercise intervention. An examination of the aetiology, incidence, epidemiology and pathophysiology of the disease processes, as well as the adaptations that lead to multidisciplinary therapeutic management of the relevant conditions, are a major focus of the unit. Current evidence and contemporary guidelines for exercise testing and exercise prescription, in association with conventional treatments and other adjunct therapies, will be explored in detail. Methodological aspects of clinical individual assessment will be discussed and applied in combination with the principles of available exercise prescriptions. This unit aims to encourage students to incorporate learning into clinical reasoning processes to optimise exercise physiology-specific and collaborative, person-centred management of individuals with a range of chronic and complex conditions. 

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
LO1Demonstrate advanced coherent knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and evidence-based clinical assessment and exercise interventions relevant to chronic and complex conditionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO2Demonstrate critical thinking and clinical reasoning to design and justify safe and effective person-centred exercise interventions informed by coherent knowledge of holistic clinical management, evidence-based practice and aligning goals and outcomes that matter to clinicians and individuals with chronic and complex conditionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO3Selectively apply evidence-based clinical assessments for individuals with chronic and complex conditions and demonstrate critical thinking and clinical decision making to interpret findings, which informs subsequent clinical managementGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO4Apply collaborative interprofessional communication and clinical reasoning that reflects on contemporary evidence-based practice to critically appraise the holistic clinical management of an individual with a chronic and complex conditionGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO5Conduct, interpret and provide feedback of safe and effective exercise testing for individuals with chronic and complex conditions integrating advanced and coherent knowledge of holistic clinical management and evidence-based practiceGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC12


Topics will include:

  • Clinical Assessment and Exercise for Cancer (Module 1)
  • Introduction to exercise oncology
  • Common cancers: Breast and prostate cancer
  • Common cancers: Colorectal cancer 
  • Rare and less common cancers Palliative cancers
  • Effective patient communication in oncology 
  • Clinical Assessment and Exercise for Endocrine and Metabolic Conditions (Module 2)
  • Type-2 diabetes mellitus
  • Type-1 diabetes mellitus 
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Clinical Assessment and Exercise for Other Chronic and Complex Conditions (Module 3)

Each module comprises content including: 

  • Anatomy and physiology of related systems.
  • Aetiology, incidence, epidemiology, pathophysiology and symptomatology of related chronic and complex conditions.
  • Common diagnostic testing for pathology and interpretations of relevant tests.
  • Roles and interprofessional relationships between respective primary, secondary, tertiary and allied healthcare practitioners. 
  • Conventional treatment(s)/treatment phases and associated symptomatology.
  • The scientific bases for exercise intervention.
  • Exercise Guidelines for relevant chronic or complex conditions.
  • Testing & selection of screening tools, outcome measures and clinical assessments to inform prescription and or evaluation.
  • Individualising exercise prescription.
  • Client engagement strategies to ensure high quality, culturally safe, person-centred and effective exercise.
  • Strategies for monitoring a client’s signs and symptoms prior to, during and after exercise.
  • Exercise medicine and cancer survivorship.
  • Gaps in the literature and latest evidence to inform considerations for individualised exercise prescription.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered through multi-mode delivery and aims to facilitate learner centred, online and face-to-face learning. Learning and teaching strategies within this Masters level unit are based on a blend of constructivism, social constructivism, and experiential learning. These strategies focus on active participation within a community of inquiry. Purposefully designed online and face-to-face workshop activities focus on inquiry-based learning principles aimed at encouraging critical thinking, application of knowledge and skills, evidence for practice, collaborative peer learning and self-reflection.

This unit offers the opportunity for students to enhance their theoretical knowledge, augment their applied clinical management skills and increase their appreciation of knowledge and skills of their peers with the aim of translating learning into clinical practice. 

Synchronous and asynchronous activities, purposefully designed for individual and small group participation, will focus on analysis of current practice, to assimilate application of acquired knowledge and facilitate translation of learning into practice. Students will be encouraged to engage in extended dialogues in order to guide students towards a more interprofessional, person-centred practice. Students will attend face-to-face workshops across 12-weeks for spaced practice. 

A blend of case-based and problem-based learning activities are provided pre-workshop and used during workshop discussions. These cases are used both to drive learning and as exemplars for learning with the aim of developing higher order thinking and reasoning including: consideration, interpretation, appraisal and critical analysis of data, information and ideas for guiding students towards innovative reasoning and holistic person-centred care. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks in this unit have been purposefully designed to prepare for and replicate authentic clinical practice, with an “assessment for learning” approach to provide evidence for judgement of learning and to reinforce, facilitate and support learning and its application. The assessment tasks have been designed to provide a broad range of tasks aligned to andragogic principles of adult learning, facilitating choice and self-direction for the postgraduate student. The design enables timely judgement to ensure students have appropriate knowledge and skills prior to workplace application.

The first assessment task enables students to use learned knowledge and apply clinical reasoning to interpret the findings of a clinical assessment and prescribe an exercise rehabilitation intervention, which is informed by holistic clinical management, evidence-based practice and based on the individual needs and goals of a case study.

The second assessment task provides an opportunity for students to critically appraise a peer’s clinical decision making to foster improvement in the future practice of both the appraiser and the appraised practitioner. To do this successfully, students must use advanced theoretical and professional knowledge, clinical reasoning and inter-professional communication strategies to probe their peers' knowledge and understanding of clinical case management.   

The third assessment task is a graded hurdle exam, requiring students to demonstrate, at a minimum, the essential clinical competencies needed to safely and effectively service a client with a complex condition, and to verbally answer common client questions. Demonstration of these essential clinical competencies is necessary for safe and effective professional practice as an accredited Exercise Physiologist.

This graded hurdle exam must be passed with a score of ≥50% to pass unit. If on a first attempt, a student scores less than 45% in the graded hurdle, they will not receive a second attempt, and will not pass the unit. If on the first attempt, a student receives a score of 45-49%, they will be eligible for a second attempt. If a student scores less than 50% on the second attempt, they will fail the hurdle and therefore fail the unit. If a student achieves a score of ≥50% on their second attempt, they will pass the hurdle, however they will receive a score of 50% for this assessment task regardless of the grade achieved in the second attempt.

Students must achieve both ≥50% in the graded hurdle, and an aggregate score of ≥50% to pass the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Assessment Task 1

Audiovisual presentation: Case study

Enables students to develop the ability to apply exercise physiology-specific practice-based knowledge and skills, reflect on collaborative practice, evidence-based reasoning and decision making, in a professional setting


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 2

Critical Appraisal:

Enables students to use advanced theoretical and professional knowledge and clinical reasoning to critically appraise a peer’s clinical decision-making to foster improvement in their future practice


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Assessment Task 3

Graded Hurdle Task - Practical Exam:

Enables students to demonstrate competency in the practical skills and clinical knowledge acquired over the semester. 


Graded Hurdle

LO1, LO4, LO5GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12

Please note: all students must achieve a score of 50% or more to pass the Assessment Task 3. Students who achieve a score between 45-49% will be eligible for a second attempt, no third attempts will be offered. Those receiving <45% on their first attempt will fail the task.

Representative texts and references

Campbell, KL, Winters-Stone, KM, Wiskemann, J, May, AM, Schwartz, AL, Courneya, KS, . . . Schmitz, KH. (2019). Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors: Consensus Statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 51(11), 2375-2390. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000002116.

Ehrman, JK, Gordon PM, Visich, PS & Keteyian SJ (Eds.) (2022). Clinical Exercise Physiology: Exercise Management for Chronic Diseases and Special Populations. Human Kinetics.

Liguori, G., Feito, Y., Fountaine, C. (Charles J., & Roy, B. (Eds.). (2022). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (11th edition). Wolters Kluwer..

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