Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module JXH-3039:
Environmental Physiology

Module Facts

Run by School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Sam Oliver

Overall aims and purpose

This module explores how environmental stress affects the human body to have negative and positive effects on health and performance.

Module Video: Watch Dr. Sam Oliver overview of this module

Course content

During the module, you will develop an understanding of how various environmental stressors (hot, cold, altitude) influence resting and exercising physiological responses, exercise performance, the immune system, illness, and injury of active persons such as athletes, explorers, and armed and emergency service personnel.

Based on our experiences working with sports and industry (e.g., Sport Wales, the Army, Outlook Expeditions, Blizzard Survival), you will learn about evidence-based practical strategies that can improve performance and health of those performing in extreme environments.

We will also reveal how an understanding of environmental physiology might be harnessed to improve the health of the general population.

You will also have the opportunity during this module to advance your critical analysis, problem-solving, and communication skills as we support you in lectures and seminars to create a poster that appraises the environment's effect on human performance and health, and a concise written report that proposes a practical strategy to improve performance and health in extreme environments.

Application of these strategies and skills could help aid your own and others' performance and health!

This course will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminar, tutorials and workshops. For September 2020 we will be starting the academic year with a blended learning approach in response to Covid 19. For the most up to date information on this please look at

Assessment Criteria


An adequate response to the task brief. Knowledge of key areas and principles in the chosen topic area as presented during lectures only. The rationale for report content is ok. A basic understanding of the report content is shown. Statements are largely descriptive and occasionally referenced but rely upon secondary sources (reviews and books). No real development of arguments. Some errors in physiological understanding. The assessor can interpret content but communication, structure and formatting are weak (e.g. lacks structure and some non-scientific language and few grammatical errors).


A good response to the task brief. Reasonably comprehensive coverage and understanding of the topic and report content is shown. Good understanding of the material and evidence of independent thought that extends beyond lecture materials. A good rationale for report content. Statements are referenced with pertinent literature. Minor errors only in physiological understanding. Well organised and structured. Communication, structure and formatting are good (e.g. report is well-structured, findings from sources are clearly presented and interpreted correctly, a scientific style is evident, and there are very few typographical or grammatical errors).


An excellent response to the task brief. Comprehensive knowledge of the chosen topic area and report content that extends beyond lecture material. Detailed understanding, as evidenced by good critical analysis, clarity of argument. Original thought and/or ideas are evident. An excellent rationale for the report content. Statements are well referenced with primary and up-to-date sources. No factual errors in physiological understanding. Communication and formatting are excellent (e.g. report is very well-structured, findings from sources are clearly presented and interpreted, formatting of the report is very professional (almost perfect/perfect).

Learning outcomes

  1. Develop a written report that proposes a practical strategy to improve human performance and health

  2. Apply knowledge of the human body to examine how it adapts to environmental stress to influence exercise performance and health

  3. Create a poster that appraises the environment's effect on human performance and health

  4. Critique and select strategies to optimise human performance and health in extreme environments

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay A practical strategy to improve human performance and health in extreme environments

The assessment asks students to develop an individual scientific report that proposes a practical strategy to improve the performance and health of persons operating in an extreme environment. Exceeding or undershooting the word limit by >10% will result in a reduction of one categorical grade, e.g. A- to B+.

Written assignment, including essay Appraisal of environmental effects on human performance and health

The assessment asks students to create a poster that appraises environmental stressor effects on human and performance.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


You will have 2 small group seminars. During these sessions, we will discuss strategies to improve health and performance in extreme environments.

Private study

You are expected to devote 80 hours of guided independent study. Independent study includes individual research and reading time, peer discussion, and assessment preparation.


You will receive lectures that broadly review the health and performance effects of extreme environments. These lectures will also help you to prepare for the poster and written report assessments, including the opportunity to receive feedback from peers and ask questions to staff.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • research and assess paradigms, theories, principles, concepts and factual information, and apply such skills in explaining and solving problems
  • describe, synthesise, interpret, analyse and evaluate information and data relevant to a professional or vocational context
  • apply knowledge to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems
  • demonstrate effective written and/or oral communication and presentation skills
  • take and demonstrate responsibility for their own learning and continuing personal and professional development
  • communicate succinctly at a level appropriate to different audiences.
  • develop justifiable and/or evidence-based interventions


Resource implications for students

There is no additional financial requirement for this module. All core texts are available in the library.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

All reading is detailed on Talis:

The following books are useful for this module, some of which are available in our library and free to read online: o Armstrong, L.E. (2000). Performing in Extreme Environments. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.# o Cheung S.S. (2009). Advanced Environmental Exercise Physiology. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. o West, J.B., Schoene, R.B., Luks, A.M. & Milledge, J.S. (2013). High Altitude Medicine & Physiology, 5th edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. * o Wilber R. (2004). Altitude training and athletic performance. Human Kinetics. o Armstrong, L.E. (2003). Exertional Heat Illnesses. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. o Gleeson, M., Bishop, N.C. and Walsh, N.P. (2013). Exercise Immunology. London: Routledge.* * Short loan in Library; # ebook searchable from Library catalogue

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: