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MSc Human Performance Optimisation

  • Study Mode: Part Time
  • Location: Blended Learning
  • Duration: Two Years
  • Start Date: September 2023
Do you work in an environment where performance truly matters, (military, fire service, police, emergency medicine, or non-governmental rescue organisations) where the consequences of not performing can be grave? If so, BNU would like to offer you the opportunity to develop your knowledge, skills, and expertise in the field of Human Performance Optimisation (HPO).
Representing the first programme of its kind in the UK, our MSc in HPO has been developed in conjunction with key stakeholders within Defence and relevant subject matter experts from around the world.

Why study this subject?

Developed for those for whom performance truly matters, this course offers you the opportunity to explore scientifically grounded approaches to Human Performance Optimisation (HPO) and provide you with evidence-driven strategies by which to optimise human performance.

HPO represents a broad topic that is too complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession. Therefore, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach which draws upon different disciplinary perspectives and integrates their insights to provide a unified and comprehensive syllabus that addresses the full spectrum of human performance including physiological readiness, psychological resilience, cognitive performance, nutrition, and sleep.

Recent advances in technology and the life sciences have the potential to enhance human performance beyond the limit of normal biological function. The application of such scientific advances to alter human function and behaviour has significant moral, ethical, and legal ramifications. Therefore, this programme will also aim to develop your understanding and deliberation of these issues.

Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?

BNU is already successful at developing and delivering flexible and applied programmes, specific to the needs of military and emergency services students.

Within BNU we have assembled a team of experts in various fields including physiology, strength and conditioning, psychology, nutrition, sleep science, and human augmentation. This mix of specialisms allows us to offer a flexible blended learning approach in order to enable you to pursue your goals as a student.

What facilities can I use?

With opportunities to use our Human Performance Laboratory (HPL), containing state of the art equipment such as a 30m mondo indoor running track, high-performance HP Cosmos treadmills, Vyntus Jaeger breath-by-breath gas analysers, Hawkin Dynamics portable force plates, Cybex Isokinetic dynamometer, Qualisys 3D motion capture system, and best in class Eleiko strength and conditioning training equipment, you will find technical support for any learning or research goal you want to pursue. In addition to this you will be able to use a range of online resources to study from where you are, whenever you need to.

Human Performance Lab 3
Human Performance Lab 2

What will I study?

On this course, you will develop an understanding of the concept of HPO and its application within real world settings. Areas of study will include optimising physiological readiness, applied performance psychology, optimising human cognitive capabilities, advanced performance nutrition, sleep science, and contemporary issues in HPO.

With an emphasis on using interdisciplinary expertise and experience from a range of backgrounds, our teaching team will aim to improve your knowledge across the areas of applied physiology, psychology, nutrition, and sleep science. Furthermore, they will aim to develop your abilities to interpret, analyze and critically evaluate contemporary  HPO research.

This programme is predominantly delivered online, with weekly lectures and webinars to explore and discuss concepts relating to HPO. All course materials, resources and reading lists are posted on our virtual learning environment meaning you can work at your own pace across the course of each module.

The course also includes a 5-day residential period at the end of the first year to support your learning. This residential period allows you to directly interact with your tutors and peers, solidify your learning, get involved in discussions around topical areas of interest, present your work (and be presented to by other students), and build an invaluable network with other practitioners who work within the field of HPO.

How will I be taught and assessed?

Throughout the course, you'll be assessed in several ways including written assignments, reports, and poster and oral presentations. In your final year, you will also complete a research dissertation in an area of interest relevant to HPO.

The full MSc takes two years; however you can opt to take a three-year track meaning you have an additional year to focus solely on your dissertation project. You can also choose to complete just year one and receive a PGCert or two years without dissertation and receive a PGDip.

MSc Human Performance Optimisation Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

The University’s general entry requirements apply to admission to this programme with the following additions / exceptions:

  • Applicants must be working directly for, or with, the military or emergency services (i.e., fire service, police, emergency medicine, or non-governmental rescue organisations).
  • Due to potential content sensitivities this programme is only open to UK nationals or nationals from countries who are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) including Australia and New Zealand.
  • Applicants will be expected to have achieved a 2.1 or above classification in a relevant undergraduate degree programme (i.e., sports science, sports psychology, policing, medicine, or allied health profession). However, consideration of a candidate with a 2.2 classification may be permissible if aspects of their profile demonstrate an ability to engage and succeed in postgraduate study.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you may, if you have relevant professional experience, still be invited for an interview, where you will be required to demonstrate the necessary knowledge and understanding for entry onto the course.

Previous study, professional and / or vocational experiences may be recognised as the equivalent learning experience and permit exemption from studying certain modules in accordance with our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process.

If you require further information or wish to enrol upon this programme, please email



This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

What are the tuition fees


Home, Academic Year 2023 - 2024

£5,200 per year


Overseas/International, Academic Year 2023 - 2024

£7,700 per year

BNU Alumni postgraduate fee discount

If you are a 2021 BNU graduate and you register for a postgraduate course at BNU for September 2022, or you are a 2022 BNU graduate registering for a postgraduate course at BNU in September 2023, the University will pay up to 50% of your fees. For more information and full terms and conditions visit our postgraduate offer page.

Questions about fees?

Contact our Enquiries Team:

0330 123 2023

What are my career prospects?

With an MSc in HPO you’ll be well placed to pursue a career working with the Armed Forces or Emergency Services in addition to pursing new opportunities in the field of performance sport.

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Jonpaul Nevin
  • Senior Lecturer
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