Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

PHSE536 Exercise Psychology

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

An examination of how psychological factors can affect participation in exercise and physical activity, and how exercise and physical activity can influence psychological parameters and health outcomes.

Physical inactivity is a global public health problem, and the World Health Organisation has recognised that increasing participation in physical activity is a priority to enhance public health. The content in PHSE 536 examines the important role of psychology in the process of helping individuals make changes to their physical activity behaviour. Specifically, the paper examines the psychological theory that explains the process of physical activity behaviour change, from initial adoption to long-term maintenance. Through critical analysis of research evidence, the effectiveness of physical activity interventions based around these psychological theories is examined.
A second component of PHSE 536 is to study the psychological outcomes that result from participation in physical activity. Specifically, research evidence demonstrating the relationship between physical activity and the treatment of mental ill-health (e.g. depression, anxiety) and the promotion of psychological well-being (e.g. self-esteem, mood and emotions) will be addressed. An applied approach will be taken throughout PHSE 536 to ensure that the theoretical principles and other factors that are studied are put into a practical context so as to develop the skills required of a physical activity practitioner.

Paper title Exercise Psychology
Paper code PHSE536
Subject Physical Education
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,590.98
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,357.07

^ Top of page

PHSE 334
PHSE 336
Limited to
BPhEd(Hons), PGDipOE, PGDipPE, MDanceSt, MPhEd
Suitable for Honours and graduate students interested in the psychology of physical activity, health promotion, public health, social psychology and physical education.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Elaine Hargreaves
Paper Structure
The paper covers five topics:
  • Introduction to the exercise psychology and research methods employed
  • The psychological responses to physical activity: depression, anxiety, self-esteem and body image, affect and potential negative outcomes (e.g. exercise dependence)
  • The role of motivation in physical activity behaviour change, drawing from self-determination theory, self-efficacy theory and theory of planned behaviour
  • Skills and techniques for conducting successful physical activity behaviour change consultations
  • Design and evaluation of psychologically based physical activity interventions
Teaching Arrangements
There are four compulsory tutorials held across the semester.
There is no compulsory text book. A reading list will be provided, which details the book chapter or research articles that complement each lecture. These readings will be available online and through course reserve in the library. Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of all the course readings.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Communication.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
On completing the paper students should demonstrate:
  • An in-depth understanding of current research evidence relating to the role of physical activity in the treatment of mental ill-health, promotion of psychological well-being and the proposed mechanisms behind why physical activity can improve psychological health
  • An in-depth understanding of the process of physical activity behaviour change from adoption to maintenance from the perspective of key socio-cognitive theories
  • A critical understanding of how psychological theory informs the design and implementation of exercise interventions and underpins the work of a physical activity specialist
  • The ability to use the skills and strategies required of an exercise consultant to facilitate behaviour change in his/her clients

^ Top of page


Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 14:00-14:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 30-31, 34, 37, 40
T2 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 30-31, 34, 37, 40
T3 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 30-31, 34, 37, 40