Exercise Science into Practice

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This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


Exercise Science into Practice

Welcome to SPM 4036BED Exercise Science into Practice! This is a 9-credit-unit, one-term, 4000-level course offered by the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration for undergraduate students.

In this course, you will engage with strength and conditioning principles. Starting with fitness testing, you will apply training interventions for strength, speed, power and endurance, while gaining the knowledge to plan periodised programmes to meet an athlete's needs. You will then explore some more illuminating examples of how science applies to coaching, see how the most effective coaches are really self-aware and think carefully about how you apply scientific knowledge.

This course adopts the UKOU adaption approach, integrating learning content from the UKOU course E236 Applying Sport and Exercise Sciences to Coaching, supplemented by HKMU learning materials.


Course aims

The goal of SPM 4036BED Exercise Science into Practice is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the diverse aspects involved in designing effective strength and conditioning programmes. You will be equipped with the knowledge to conduct needs analyses for individuals and teams, while also evaluating the validity and reliability of corresponding tools and protocols.

Through practical sessions and case studies, you will examine the physiological characteristics of younger and older populations to address their unique needs in sport and exercise. By critically evaluating effective coaching practices, you will learn how to achieve desirable training outcomes, ultimately fostering a greater understanding of the coaching process.


Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of SPM 4036BED Exercise Science into Practice, you should be able to:

  • Evaluate the validity and reliability of fitness tests to ensure evidence-based coaching practices.
  • Apply principles of strength and conditioning to design programmes that meet the needs of individuals in sport and fitness settings.
  • Analyse the physiological characteristics of younger and older people to address their specific needs in sport and exercise.
  • Critically evaluate effective coaching practices to achieve desirable training outcomes.

The course is based around a set of three study units, course readings and online components, supported by learning sessions. The study materials for this course can all be found on the SPM 4036BED course page of the University's Online Learning Environment (OLE).


The study units

The study units set out your study pathway through the course readings and other course learning resources. They provide you with learning material, such as case studies, videos and activities that are designed to facilitate your understanding about each topic.

You will therefore need to keep referring to the units as you work through the course. There are three units, as follows:


Unit 1 Strength and conditioning in action

This unit analyses fitness assessment protocols and applies training principles to create evidence- based strength and conditioning programmes based on best practices.


Unit 2 Contemporary issues in sport and fitness

This unit explores age-related factors in physiological responses to exercise. You will learn how to develop suitable training programmes for both youth and ageing populations.


Unit 3 Sport and exercise science in practice

This unit examines the role of sports knowledge, external influences and coach developmental models in informing effective coaching practices and professional growth.


The course readings

Each study unit has a corresponding set of readings, which were originally developed for UKOU course E236 Applying Sport and Exercise Sciences to Coaching. The overarching aim of the course readings is to enable you to acquire knowledge and understanding of:

  • the development of fitness assessment protocols and strength and conditioning programmes based on scientific measurements and evidenced-based practices;
  • age-related factors in physiological responses to exercise and create traning programmes that cater to their specific needs; and
  • coach developmental theories and models to foster effective coaching practices and professional growth.

The study units will indicate at which point you should turn to each of the readings.


Learning support

In addition to online lectures, weekly online surgeries and compulsory day schools (in person), a variety of learning support services is provided to assist you in your studies. These include the Online Learning Environment (OLE) and the My Milestone Tracker mobile app.


The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

The main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is HKMU's Online Learning Environment (OLE). There, you will have access not only to the course materials (including the study units and the course readings) in different formats (both PDF and e-Pub versions), but also to a rich array of multimedia materials such as videos, web-based activities and video lectures. You will also be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor interactively via the course discussion board.


Learning support sessions

You will be supported throughout the course by regular learning support sessions in the form of live online lectures, live online surgeries and compulsory day schools (in person). Details of the dates and times of these sessions can be found in the Presentation Schedule. The following is a summary of the learning support sessions offered.


Learning support
UnitLive online lecturesLive online surgeriesDay schools
(Compulsory; in person)
1Lecture 15Day school 113
2Lecture 2–36 10
3Lecture 45Day school 213
Total4 online lectures16 surgeries2 day schools36 support hours


My Milestone Tracker mobile app

The My Milestone Tracker mobile app is specifically designed to help you to check your study progress, such as your completion of assessment components, along the learning journey of the course.


Continuous assessment

During the course, you will have your progress assessed by one assignment, application-based assessments and lecture polls, which are worth 60% of the total marks of the course. You are expected to apply, organise and elaborate on what you have learnt to complete tasks on topics of strength and conditioning, training for youth and older populations as well as effective coaching practices. The assignment, application-based assessments and lecture polls evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 3. The assignment will be delivered as a written assignment. Application-based assessments will be designed as learning activities during the compulsory day schools. Lecture polls will be conducting during online lectures.



This will be a two-hour examination that requires you to synthesise and demonstrate what you have achieved in learning outcomes 1 to 4.

The pass mark for each assignment and the examination is 40. To pass this course, you must participate in all compulsory day schools according to the attendance requirements of the University and pass both the continuous assessment and the examination.


Assessment summary

Details of the summative assessment items are outlined in the following table:


Assessment TypeMarks
Assignment 120%
Application-based assessments30%
Lecture polls10%


How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments, and submit the assignments via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.


Assignment submission extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your Course Coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions must be submitted online via the OLE. Please note the following:

  • Supporting documents must be submitted to justify applications for extensions of over seven days.
  • Applications for extensions should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  • Applications are considered by:
    • your tutor for extensions of up to seven days;
    • the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    • the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University's policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure, including the number of weeks allocated to each unit, the assessment requirements and the learning support provided.


UnitWeeksLearning supportAssessment
1 Strength and conditioning in actionWeek 1Live online lecture Live online surgeryLecture poll: 2.5%
Week 2Live online surgery 
Week 3Live online surgery 
Week 4Live online lecture Live online surgeryLecture poll: 2.5%
Week 5Live online surgery 
2 Contemporary issues in sport and fitnessWeek 6Day school (Compulsory; in person) Live online surgeryApplication-based assessment: 15%
Week 7Live online surgery 
Week 8Live online lecture Live online surgeryLecture poll: 2.5%
Week 9Live online surgery 
Week 10Live online lecture Live online surgeryLecture poll: 2.5%
Assignment 1 preparationWeek 11Live online surgery 
3 Sport and exercise science in practiceWeek 12Day school (Compulsory; in person) Live online surgeryApplication-based assessment: 15%
Week 13Live online surgery 
Week 14Live online surgeryAssignment 1: 20%
Week 15Live online surgery 
Week 16Live online surgery 
ExaminationExamination PeriodExamination: 40%

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU's School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.


What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organisation. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organisation; to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organisation which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organisation over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organisation.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or day school exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learnt in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let's have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.


Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled 'ABC Consultants' and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC's returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC's relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC's financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC's financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled 'XYZ Industries'.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ's management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick 'wrong' or 'right' answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organisation, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts, and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others' assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible 'right' answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.


Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:


1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.


2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organisation and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organisation: What is the state of this organisation: good, bad or in-between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organisation? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there someone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organisation under investigation? How does this organisation's performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organisation) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

A SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organisation and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organisation, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organisation faces in the external environment.


3 Recognize the case's symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who consults a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.




4 Diagnose the case's problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you're ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor diagnosing a patient's symptoms. Ask yourself 'what seems to be the trouble in this organisation?' and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritise them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.


CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause other problems?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   


Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.


5 Formulate criteria for a 'good' solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a 'good' solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, i.e. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organisation's culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.


 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3*******


Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It's often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximising solution.

Finally, don't forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?


6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organisation. Suggest a time-frame for the solution's implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organisational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.


7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.


Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarising the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problem. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of 'systems' rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles, and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organisational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

SPM 4036BED Exercise Science into Practice is an important 4000-level course that equips you with crucial knowledge and concepts which are necessary for different sport and fitness environments. This course aims to develop your cognitive, practical and professional skills for your studies and work in sport and fitness. It particularly focuses on various personal skills which can maximise your performance and develop your career in sport and fitness settings.

SPM 4036BED covers the following topics: principles of strength and conditioning, scientific fitness assessment protocols and tools, training for youth and older populations, coach development theories and models, effective coaching practices and professional growth for sport coaches.

The course is presented through a blend of written and multimedia materials which can all be accessed on the OLE. As you work through SPM 4036BED, you will need to refer to your study units and course readings, and you are provided with support through regular learning sessions.

The course is assessed through one assignment, application-based assessments, lecture polls and one examination.

We hope you find SPM 4036BED stimulating and valuable for your professional development.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University.

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