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SPEX308 Psychology of Physical Activity

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

Critically examines the influence of social psychological factors on decisions to adopt and maintain physical activity and the relationships between physical activity and psychological well-being.

Paper title Psychology of Physical Activity
Paper code SPEX308
Subject Sport, Physical Education and Exercise
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,080.30
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,061.45

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SPEX 204 or SPEX 205 or PHSE 205 or PHSE 334
PHSE 336, PHSE 536
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

Suitable for students interested in the psychology of physical activity, health promotion, public health, social psychology and physical education. 


Teaching staff

Course Coordinator: Dr Elaine Hargreaves

Paper Structure

The paper covers five topics:

  • Introduction to the psychology of physical activity and the 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 five compulsory tutorials held across the semester.


There is no compulsory textbook. 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.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Research, Self-motivation.
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 their clients

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 09:00-09:50 9-12, 14-15, 17-22
Thursday 09:00-09:50 9-12, 14-15, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 10, 12, 14, 18, 20
A2 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 10, 12, 14, 18, 20
A3 Thursday 12:00-12:50 10, 12, 14, 18, 20