Course Details

This full-time BSc Hons in Physical Education & Coaching gives you the opportunity to qualify and work in professional sports coaching with the option to study a Professional Masters in Education and become a qualified PE teacher.

Start Date
4th October 2021
Level 8 Honours Degree
Portobello Institute
Course Duration
3 years


Do you want to begin your journey to becoming a PE teacher? If the answer is yes, then this BSc in Physical Education & Coaching will be of interest to you. With the introduction of Physical Education as a state exam subject, this course is equipped to meet the demands of the growing market for specialist trained PE teachers in Ireland. This course is designed for those students considering entering the teaching profession and will equip you with an in-depth knowledge of physical education. You will study a range of modules considering learning and teaching alongside the main sports science disciplines. Modules such as Practical Delivery in Sport & Physical Education, Inclusive Education and Contemporary Issue in PE provide the foundations for the Physical Education component. You will learn practical skills relating to work as a physical education teacher and a sports coach. This is a full-time course delivered efficiently over 2-3 days per week for 3 academic years. You will complete an education-based placement as part of their course. There is an easy payment plan designed to make this programme affordable. These factors, together with the one to one tutorial support, offer you a course that is accessible, affordable and achievable.

Why should I study this course?

Portobello Institute’s BSc Hons in Physical Education & Coaching gives you the opportunity to learn from a range of experts whom bring their insight, depth of experience and passion for teaching to this degree programme. You will have career opportunities as professional sports coach working with professional athletes and teams. You will also have the option, like many of our past pupils, to study a Professional Masters in Education and become a qualified PE teacher. Visit our Graduates Success Stories to understand the opportunities they availed of, the further studies they have undertaken and their unique learning journeys.

Who will recognise my qualification?

Upon completing this degree, you will hold a BSc (Hons) in Physical Education & Coaching awarded by London Metropolitan University (LMU). This is awarded at level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK

The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the qualifications frameworks in operation, Brexit will not impact this agreement. Further guidance on this framework is available here.

What will I study during this BSc (Hons) Physical Education & Coaching course?

During this programme, you will learn about the principles of sports science as well as practical learning and teaching skills relating to work as a physical education teacher or sports coach. You will study modules such as Practical Delivery in Sport & Physical Education, Inclusive Education and Contemporary Issue in PE provide the foundations for the Physical Education component. You will learn how to facilitate the enhancement of physical education through effective teaching. You will understand principles and limitations of measurement and assessment strategies in sport, exercise and physical education.

  • Foundation of Sports Psychology & Coaching – 30 Credits

    This module intends to introduce students to basic principles in a range of areas, which will be critical to development of a true understanding of sports performance and participation. These basic principles will primarily feature sport psychology and coaching. The module will primarily develop an understanding of the impact that psychological state has on both performance and participation; as well as the most effective way to develop a sound coaching/teaching knowledge base and pedagogy.

    In addition, parts of the module will focus on sociology of sport and health related aspects of sport and exercise, referring to the sociological value of sport and how this links to coaching and teaching pedagogy; plus, coverage of health-related aspects, showing how sport and exercise can benefit our physical condition and psychological well-being.

  • Introduction to Athletics & Games for Physical Education – 30 Credits

    The module aims to provide students with theoretical knowledge and practical teaching ability, understanding of coaching techniques and improved personal competency in the skills involved in athletics.

    The module aims to: provide students with fundamental knowledge of physical, psychological and behavioral development through fundamental movement skills, locomotion, object manipulation, interceptive timing, speed, agility and coordination. Understanding of invasion style games, perceptual skills, communication skills and group dynamics developed through teaching games for understanding. Provide students with knowledge and instructional/demonstration skills required in the delivery of athletics and games curriculum for both educational and club environments including lesson design, communication, teaching methods, instruction and feedback.


  • Introduction to Gymnastics & Dance for Physical Education – 30 Credits

    This module aims to enable students to perform, choreograph, disseminate and criticize Contemporary and Folk Dance. The module is directed towards Contemporary and Folk Dance in Physical Education Syllabi at Junior/ Senior Level and also as a dance form within Leaving Certificate Applied Dance modules. This module aims to provide students with theoretical plus practical teaching acumen, enhancement of coaching techniques and improved personal competency in the skills involved in gymnastics. The module also aims to provide students with knowledge and instructional/demonstrational skills required in the delivery of Educational and Olympic gymnastics curricula for school and club environs.

  • Sports Research Skills – 30 Credits

    During this module, you will be introduced to the study of sport in higher education as well as develop life-long skills in organisation and application of knowledge. This module aims to introduce you to the learning resources within the college to assist your personal and professional development. You will enhance your planning, preparation, academic writing styles, referencing, resourcing and development for academia to enable an easy transition between levels.

    In addition, you will be introduced to methods of data analysis using computer software, which will enable you to apply statistical techniques to data, as part of your studies as well as in a more general work environment.

  • Principals of Effective Coaching & Teaching – 30 Credits

    This module explores the key pedagogical theories that inform sports coaching and teaching as well as covering a wide variety of themes relevant to contemporary sports education and training. The module includes a strong emphasis on experiential learning with students engaging in practical coaching and teaching sessions on a weekly basis.

    The module aims to provide students with an overarching appreciation of important theories relating to effective teaching and coaching practice. Students are afforded various opportunities to develop their practical competencies in relation to teaching and coaching. Ultimately, the module seeks to develop responsible and effective practitioners with a firm grounding in the necessary interpersonal and decision-making skills required within the coaching/teaching profession. The ability to communicate and use a variety of strategies to achieve coaching/teaching objectives is developed, along with an appreciation of the value of reflective practice in personal development.

  • Contemporary Issues in Sport – 15 Credits

    This module explores a variety of theories drawn from the social sciences and encourages students to apply such thinking to contemporary issues in sport.

    The module examines variously: the history of sporting Ireland, the role of sport in the Irish war of Independence, amateurism in the GAA and m the changing dynamic of sport in Ireland from a cultural perspective, the globalisation of sport, the use of sport as a political tool, sport and nationalism, issues around gender and ethnicity and the controversies that surround both the delivery and practice of sport.

  • Applied Principles and Teaching for Adventure Activities – 15 Credits

    The focus of this module is the role of adventure activities in physical education. The module will cover different adventure activities and the role adventure activities can play in developing confidence, communication, team building, reflection and planning, coping and problem-solving skills for students.

    The module aims to provide: theoretical knowledge about adventure activities for holistic physical education, the development of complex physical skills for life-long transferable skills development, pedagogical issues in adventure activity delivery, group dynamics and activity planning, principles of health and safety, environmental and individual learning and physical needs assessment and planning, principles of instruction, evaluation and teaching methods in adventure activities.

  • Applied Principles and Teaching for Aquatics – 15 Credits

    The aim of this module is to develop students’ life-saving, water safety and aquatics theoretical and practical knowledge through small group practical’s and lecture delivery. The module will provide in depth theory of biomechanics, anatomy and physiology of swimming for speed and endurance. In addition to the theoretical concepts, practical considerations for applying these concepts to practical teaching will be explored. Challenges and constraints of aquatics during physical education will be identified and clearly elaborated on to ensure learning of key factors influencing safety and effectiveness of teaching.

    The module will develop students’ ability to teach and instruct skill for various phases of stroke technical development using appropriate feedback and analysis based on their theoretical knowledge.

  • Psychological Factors in Sporting Teams & Individuals – 30 Credits

    This module elaborates on the key theories in sport psychology, covering a wide range of sport psychology topics and the mental skills used within those topics. The module aims to provide students with an understanding of key psychological theories which underpin sporting performance and participation itself. Students will focus initially on the psychological factors which influence an individual’s sporting behavior and later develop an understanding of group dynamics in sport.

    The module encourages an appreciation of how to work effectively in a team setting and also aims to develop students’ communication and literacy skills to allow them the ability to write a scientific piece of work with confidence. Most mental skills developed in sport psychology are directly transferable therefore students are given qualities necessary to advance in many other areas of life

  • Sports Science Research Methods – 15 credits

    During this module, you will reflect on your chosen course. You will select your project within the context of the course and possible future career. You will consider and carry out the preparation necessary for a scientific dissertation proposal. In so doing, you will gain experience in devising dissertations by taking into account experimental design, feasibility in terms of costs and resources, and aspects of ethics and safety.

  • Advanced Pedagogy for Disability PE – 15 Credits

    This module will focus on advanced pedagogical considerations for adapting and implementing physical education theory and curricular content to practice for a range of learning needs. Theoretical knowledge on learning, physical and mental disabilities will be gained. In depth content of standards and policies for disability and integrative education will be provided. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills will be developed through lectures and practical activities where students will be required to problem-solve classroom scenarios to adapt curricular content for different physical and learning disabilities with consideration of holistic education, safety and equipment considerations, social inclusion and communication.

    As part of this module, students will complete a school-based placement under the supervision of qualified second level Physical Education Teachers. Students will attend school physical education lessons and discuss the barriers to participation for students of differing abilities.

  • Advance Pedagogy for Health Promotion PE – 15 Credits

    The purpose of this module is to develop critical problem-solving skills for the promotion of physical and mental health through physical education. The module aims to provide in depth information about physical and mental health benefits of physical activity.

    The module will provide in depth information about the models of physical education and behavior change that are used for public health promotion through physical education. The module will evaluate current policies for public health promotion in school settings and barriers to implementation experienced by physical education teachers in delivery health-based promotion.

  • Curriculum Development – 30 Credits

    This module enables students to explore the sociological, political and contemporary issues related to physical education.  Due to  the  contemporary  nature  of  this  module  the  specific  content  will  change according to the changes in government and society. The module also explores the design and construction of a curriculum for Physical Education. The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Educations Qualifications.

    This module  focuses on  the  social,  political  and  contemporary  issue  relating  to  Physical Education  in  Irish schools.  Students  will  be  encouraged  to  explore  and  experience  the construction of a curriculum and to consider the issues relating to implementation.  The students’ ability to discuss the socio-historical context of PE will be developed.

    This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility, decision making in unpredictable situations and the desire to undertake further professional training.

  • Dissertation in Physical Education – 30 Credits

    This module will enable students to reinforce the skills necessary to carry out a scientific programme requiring significant research.  It will allow students to demonstrate the final development of their subject knowledge, skills and understanding through extended research based on laboratory, literature or field work. This research will lead to the presentation of a detailed written report.


    The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Educations Qualifications. This module aims to encourage students to reflect and build upon their subject knowledge and expertise by means of a specific investigation requiring significant research. During the course of the module they will develop the skills necessary to plan, carry out, analyse and report upon the results of an experimental or analytical programme on a scientific topic. The module gives students the opportunity to attain achievement of a high level of personal development by working independently with the minimum necessary supervision. This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility; decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts; and, the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.


    Formative feedback is provided on a weekly basis in the lecture/seminar sessions. These sessions are comprised of students working in similar areas of research which provides the opportunity for both peer and lecturer formative feedback. Students are supported by their supervisor with whom they are encouraged to facilitate regular contact. Students prepare interim reports, for which summative feedback is provided. Summative feedback is also provided on completion of the dissertation via assessment of the report, oral exam, and supervisors mark for process.

Who will I learn from?

Programme Manager

Dr Susan Giblin

‘Sports students are passionate, determined and motivated people. They bring an energy to the classroom that is infectious. They are a joy to mentor and our academic team are invaluable in providing that mentorship to our students.’

About Susan

I have been passionate about sport from a young age, I decided to pursue my passion academically when I had the opportunity to and completed my BSc in Health and Performance Science in UCD. I was part of the first graduating class in Health and Performance Science, the concept of sports science was very new in Ireland at the time and opportunities to gain applied experience were rare. On graduating, I was determined to gain as much hands-on practical experience as possible and I was very fortunate to work as a Sports Scientist at Sports Med Ireland where I gained invaluable insight into the world of supporting elite athletes. Notably, there were no practical or applied experience elements as part of my degree, we worked in the lab but not on the field with coaches or athletes which meant really learning on your feet, trying to gain practical competence when starting to work in applied settings. This was something I knew I wanted to try and change if I ever found myself back in academia. It didn’t make sense to me why the applied and academic aspects of sport were so separate, really to change performance both need to be intertwined. Since then, I have endeavoured to combine applied and academic work.

During my early applied work, I became fascinated with the interplay between physical and psychological performance. I left for the UK to pursue a MSc in Performance Psychology, based in the UK I gained valuable opportunities to work in applied, elite sports settings (largely focused in soccer, motorsport and golf). From there, I completed my psychology accreditation and pursued my PhD and post-doctoral research focusing on the use of technology to assess physical and psychological parameters of development. I returned to Ireland to work with the international data sports science company Kitman Labs as Head of Research and I gained fantastic experiences working with innovative international sports organisations. On completion of my post-doctoral research I began lecturing in sports science and sports psychology. In doing so, I quickly realised that not much had changed in terms of academic qualifications in sport, despite the applied sports industry having developed light years ahead with integration of performance technology. Throughout my career development to date, mentors have been an incredibly important asset to me in terms of personal and professional growth. I wanted to be able to provide similar support to individuals who were passionate about pursuing a career in sport. Portobello institute provided the perfect opportunity to address the frustrating limitations of current educational practices in sport by developing innovative, applied degree programmes that ingrain practical skill competence, personal and professional development for students and I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Portobello Sports Team since arriving here as a lecturer in 2016.

Why did you choose to work in education?

Education has always been a big part of my life (despite hating school!!). The value of education and the privilege of being able to pursue third level education was instilled from a very young age. I firmly believe that education is an incredible tool that can be used to build a fulfilling life and education should be accessible and individual. Accessible, individual education is something I am very passionate about; from personal experience I understand that one size rarely fits all in terms of education. Unfortunately, primary and secondary (and in many cases tertiary) education comes in a very generic form and that can be very damaging. In fact, it can lead to individuals not pursing their full potential, or not even recognising the potential that they have to pursue. I am dedicated to ensuring that teaching/lecturing is recognised as a role of great responsibility that goes beyond delivering curricular content and focuses on promoting confident learners who are eager to pursue their dull potential after completing their primary degree.

Your experience as a Programme Manager.

My experience as Programme Manager to date has been an incredibly rewarding one. As Programme Manager I am privileged to support our students from the day arrive to the day they graduate and beyond. The most fulfilling part of my role is being able to work with and get to know the person behind the student number, understanding what their ambitions are and guiding them on to the next step of their journey. That next step may be to postgraduation education or to employment as a practitioner. Whatever it is, my role is to support our students in figuring out their path and providing individual support to ensure that students’ personal, academic and professional development is optimised during their time at Portobello Institute.
In addition to providing personal support, as Programme Manager I am involved in the continual review and strategic development of our academic offering in the Sports Department. I work with industry and academic collaborative partners to ensure that the qualifications we offer our students are leading the curve in the sports industry.

Why Portobello?

Portobello Institute is an agile, innovative Institute of Education. In academia Institutes tend to be slow to change or develop, as sport is such a new and evolving science having an Institute that is willing and able to change ahead of the curve is absolutely essential. Portobello Institute offers this dynamic, forward thinking environment that is focused on changing the way we educate our next generation of practitioners in Sport. Portobello Institute is bridging the gap that has previously existed between applied practice and academic research. The focus here is on developing graduates who are proficient, evidence-based practitioners who are also passionate about scientific research, that is something you just don’t find elsewhere.


  • Post-doctoral fellowship – Psychomotor assessment validation (University of Central Lancashire)
  • PhD Psychomotor Development (University of Central Lancashire)
  • MSc Performance Psychology (University of Edinburgh)
  • PGDiploma General Psychology (University of Derby)
  • BSc Health & Performance Science (UCD)

Research / Industry Participation

  • Accredited member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI)
  • BASES Accredited Sports Psychologist
  • HCPC Chartered Scientist Status (CSci)
  • Former Head of Research, Kitman Labs Ltd.

Research & Publications:

  • Cruickshank, A., Giblin, S., Collins, D. ‘Mental preparation for competitive sprints’ in The Science of Sprinting. Platt, G., (Eds) Routledge
  • Ng, J., Button, C., Collins, D., Giblin, S., and Kennedy, G. (2019). Assessing the Internal Reliability and Construct Validity of the General Movement Competence Assessment for Children. Journal of Motor Learning and Development  8, 1, 87-106, available from: <>
  • MELG Funded Research in collaboration with UHL HSE and UL. An investigation of physical activity engagement and barriers to engagement in children with T1DM (2019)
  • Giblin, S., Meldrum, D., McGroarty, M., O’Brien S., Wetterling, F. (2015) ‘A markerless motion capture system to enhance injury monitoring in professional sports: a single case validation study on the example of external and internal shoulder rotation’ Functional Sports & Exercise Medicine DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.3434.5440
  • Giblin, S., Meldrum, D., McGroarty, M., O’Brien S., Wetterling, F. (2015). ‘Wholebody magnetic resonance imaging enables assessment of spatial accuracy and precision of skeletal joint locations inferred from motion capture systems’ 6th Int. Conference on 3D Body Scanning Technologies October DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3105.0963
  • Giblin, S., Meldrum, D., McGroarty, M., O’Brien S., Wetterling, F. (2015) ‘Bone length calibration can significantly improve the measurement accuracy of knee flexion angle when using a marker- less system to capture the motion of countermovement jump’ DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3105.0963
  • Giblin, S., Collins, D., & Button, C. (2014). Physical literacy: importance, assessment and future directions. Sports Medicine, 44(9), 11771184.
  • Giblin, S., Collins, D., MacNamara, A., & Kiely, J. (2014). “Deliberate Preparation” as an Evidence-Based Focus for Primary Physical Education. Quest, 66(4), 385395.
  • MacNamara, Á., Collins, D., & Giblin, S. (2015). Just let them play? Deliberate preparation as the most appropriate foundation for lifelong physical activity. Frontiers in psychology, 6.

Personal Academic Tutor

Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.

Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.

This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.

Alan Whealan

Position: Sports lecturer

“There is no failure, only feedback!”

About Alan

I spent 15 years working in corporate finance and accounts before committing to the long held desire to move in a new direction and pursue a career in sport. Having completed a BSc in Sport Science and Physical Education and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology, I now run my own sport psychology business while also working as a tutor in Portobello Institute since 2018.

Alan’s Teaching Philosophy

I am a very open and approachable tutor and believe in a student centred approach to learning, with student engagement and discussion at the heart of every lecture. A firm believer in the benefits of effective goal setting, engaging in reflective practice and practical application, I employ a number of sport psychology related skills into the education setting to ensure all students maximise their potential for learning. 


  • BSc Sport and exercise Science
  • MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology

Anthony Sheriff

About Anthony 

I have over five years of experience delivering PE to primary and secondary school students from a  variety of backgrounds. I recently returned home from a two year spell teaching in Dubai. This was a fantastic opportunity to experience a new culture and to see how PE can be delivered effectively in various environments. I have worked with athletes and teams in a sports psychology capacity for the past number of years.

Anthony’s Teaching Philosophy

I am a very approachable tutor and encourage lots of discussion in lectures to really maximize the time we have together in class. I believe strongly in working together with the students in my class and will always encourage students to share their opinions to help create interesting discussions. I am also a strong believer in reflective practice and believe that this approach will allow me to improve continuously which will then maximize the student’s potential to achieve their goals.


BA(Hons) Education Studies and Physical Education

PGCE Primary Education with PE Specialism

MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology

Barry Roe

Position: Sports Lecture

Barry Roe started out his career in what he calls one of the big three (Business, Medicine, Law).

“Nobody ever really entertained the possibility of a real career in sports, even though there were a lot of serious athletes involved, people who were hugely successful in their sporting lives, got scholarships and everything. They never took sport seriously in terms of seeing it as an actual career path.”

He landed that coveted corner office in a tall building managing pension funds. Barry had what most would consider a perk. His office literally overlooked the Leinster training ground. If Leinster scored a try off a set piece move on Friday night, Barry had seen it happen on Tuesday. He knew who the next superstar talent was and got to watch him everyday.

But that’s not what Barry wanted. Instead of a perk, it was only adding to his misery in his office job.

“It was only my wife really who sat me down and said ‘Look you’re obviously miserable.’

Having studied something like business and marketing, it was a great experience…but if I could go back I would definitely have just gone through the sporting route. If I could talk to my teenage self I would say what do you actually really like to do and what would you like to do with the rest of your life as opposed to what do you think you should be doing.

Forget what you think you should be doing, just go do what you like to do and you’ll succeed in it. You’ll make more successful leaps and bounds far quicker than you would slogging it out during a recession in finance.”

With a very understanding wife at his side, Barry gave up his career in finance and became a personal trainer. He earned his MSc Sports Performance from the University of Limerick before becoming a strength and conditioning coach and nutrition advisor for Munster Rugby.

“When you’re sitting there thinking ‘I’m here working in pension funds until I potentially start drawing my own pension.’ Nah, that was not happening. No. Game over.”

Having worked with elite athletes and having set up his own personal training business, Barry then sought out to satiate his desire to educate. That’s how he wound up at Portobello Institute.

“My philosophy is to always be open to new challenges and opportunities. In doing so, I feel that I will maintain a fresh perspective and continue to grow professionally and personally. My goal as an educator in the undergraduate program is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to become professionally competent in their chosen pathways.

My teaching philosophy takes a student-centric approach. I strive to create a collaborative and interactive learning environment; one that allows our diverse student body to share their own unique experiences and perspectives. My overall aim is to equip my students with the skills and confidence to make a seamless transition from their academic studies into their chosen careers.”

Becoming an educator was a natural fit for Barry as he has continually sought out education himself as a student. His initial degree in marketing wasn’t ultimately what he wanted to build his career in but it didn’t mar his passion for education. Since then he has earned his Masters from UL but also completed the National Qualifications in Suspension Training, Pre & Post Natal Exercise, Indoor Cycling and Kettlebell Training and further qualifications with the IRFU, U.K. Anti Doping, ISAK and Les Mills.

Emma McLoughlin

Like most Irish students, Emma McLoughlin wasn’t given a real chance to build a career in sports when she came out of school. She pursued psychiatric nursing and eventually wound up in psychology in college before the possibility of working in sports became apparent.

“I ended up loving psychology and I just had a really good lecturer who said ‘Why don’t you try and do sports psychology?’ I was always coming into college with busted hands and busted lips so everyone knew I was playing football.

And he said you seem to really love sport and psychology so why don’t you marry the two of them.

It wasn’t on my radar back then that such a thing even existed or that you could have a career in sport you know…I think it should be made clearer to Leaving Cert students that a career in sports is a serious option. I was in an all girls school and there was no real emphasis on those of us that played sport.”

Emma found out that she could have a more fulfilling and lucrative career in sport with her psychology degree but also by branching out into analysis with her company Mí Analytics.

“It uses vision mapping and statistics in terms of performance analysis. It flags when teams are becoming vulnerable to concede scores and it also flags when you’ve got the opposition vulnerable. I did my PhD in decision-making so I was trying to understand why players are making certain decisions.

I realized I had to understand what the opposition was presenting them with at that time…the more time you spend looking at oppositions the more you can see the patterns of attack and defending.

[It can be applied] to any sport where you have to defend and you have to attack, so rugby, soccer, Gaelic, soccer, basketball.”

Mí Analytics is the first of its kind analysing team sports using cluster analysis.

With her B.A. in Psychology, her MSc in Sports & Exercise Psychology and researching decision making in Gaelic Football for her PhD, education was never far from Emma’s life. But after returning to Ireland in the midst of a recession, she wound up spending a few years working with mental health patients away from sports.

Lecturing in sports psychology wasn’t something she had even considered and there wasn’t a fairytale story that brought her to Portobello.

As Emma notes herself, she just saw an advert to become a lecturer one day, it felt like it could be a fit and she applied without thinking too much of it…but that was seven years ago and now Emma can’t imagine life without lecturing.

Having compiled so much experience engaging people in different roles, both sports-related and not sports-related, Emma fit perfectly in a classroom with students.

“I didn’t actually have lecturing in mind…but I love it. I really do. I love the discussions and the psychology side of things. Yes, there’s right answers but everyone knows it’s based on your perception, and I love that discussion, the deep thinking and the critical thinking.

Encouraging that in students to not just take everything at face value.

The mental health side of things really enables you to see how people form different perceptions and how they’re so deep rooted. Changing behaviour is a big massive thing and it’s not as simple as go in give a talk and everyone is confident and you leave.

Human beings are quite complex.”

Those students who come to Portobello looking for experts in their field not only find a lecturer in Emma who is that, but for mature students who are changing careers they also have someone who has undergone the transition they are undertaking.

Changing from mental health into sports as a full-time career after graduating college helps Emma to empathize and engage with students who lack clarity or confidence in what they’re trying to do.

“I can appreciate the fear of ‘Will this actually end up being a career for me where I can own a house and own a car and have a family should I decide to?’ A lot of people around me thought I was leaving a very lucrative job to go into something that was a bit less known and a bit less steady so I do definitely empathize with people.

I learned first-hand the influence and guidance good lectures can offer, I hope to be that type of lecture for the students at Portobello. I believe in guiding the individual holistically not just the academic student.

While I think grades are meaningful, I don’t think they are the be-all-and-end-all…It’s about personal growth and this critical thinking, skills that they can take from the classroom and actually apply them to teams and to athletes.

How you develop interpersonally for me is far more important.”

Fiona Skelly

Position: Sports lecturer

“My passion is the use of exercise to optimise health and well-being and improve quality of life. I believe that a physically active lifestyle can have benefits for all, regardless of fitness levels or abilities.” 

About Fiona

Exercise and sport has always been a huge part of my life. I studies Sports Science and Health in Dublin City University, and went on to complete a PhD in clinical exercise physiology. In addition to my current role here in Portobello Institute, I also lecture part time in Athlone Institute of Technology. 

I am a qualified gym instructor and personal trainer and have worked as part of the fitness team in DCUs Sports Complex since 2015. I am a strength and conditioning coach for both the men and women adult GAA teams in Clontarf GAA and have previously work as the youth athletic development coach in Belvedere F.C. 

Fiona’s Teaching Philosophy

Lecturing in the area of exercise physiology is a role I truly have passion for. My teaching strategy employs a number of methods, including visualization, peer learning, debate and problem solving. The area of exercise physiology is vast, and I aim to guide students to navigate the scientific and evidence-based literature to support their knowledge of each topic.  


  • PhD in clinical exercise physiology 
  • BSc in Sports Science and Health
  • ITEC qualified gym instructor, studio instructor and PT
  • BACPR qualification in cardiac rehabilitation


How will I learn?

Delivery Mode

Portobello ensures scheduling of course timetables is considerate of students travel and accommodation arrangements, part-time working and study-life balance. The course timetable is condensed to be delivered with onsite classes 2-3 days per week over 2 semesters. Examinations are held at the end of each semester. Classes do not take place on a Friday and where possible, classes scheduled for Monday, are delivered online.

Practical classes are delivered in a fully equipped therapy training room with theory classes taking place in one of the many theory rooms within Portobello Institute. There is also a fully equipped gym with strength and conditioning equipment available for use as part of your course.

Other delivery modes available

Blended Learning

BSc (Hons) Physical Education & Coaching – Starts Oct ’21

Portobello Institute
Start Date
2nd October 2021

Course Structure

This course is delivered over three academic years. In first year, you will complete four year long core modules which will introduce you to the programme of study and provide you with essential skills that will aid your study for the course of your degree.

In second year, you will complete a total of six modules, two year long core modules which run for the duration of both semesters, alongside two additional modules each semester.

In third year, you will complete five modules, three core year long modules that run for the duration of both semesters, as well as an additional module each semester. The core modules include your final year dissertation project in the area of Physical Education and your work placement.

Academic Year 1

The first academic year of this course runs from 04/10/21 – 26/05/22

Classes are generally delivered 2-3 days per week and are scheduled mid-week where possible.

The second and third academic years of this course will run to a similar schedule in 2022 and 2023.

Real Life Learning Opportunities

Work Placement

During your final year, you will complete a module incorporating work experience. For this, you will choose an individual work placement in the domain of primary and secondary school Physical Education to complete alongside your studies. This allows you to put into practice the skills you have learnt in class. If you are interested in progressing to a Masters in Education and becoming a PE teacher, our graduates have found this first-hand experience and insight into physical education in schools gave them advantage when preparing for interview and subsequent successful entry to Masters programmes.

How will I be assessed?

A variety of assessment methods are used to support students with different learning styles. These vary from written reports to practical case studies, skills demonstrations to examinations. The final year project provides the opportunity for an extended piece of formal scientific writing preparing you for your future career and the need to keep scientific based patient notes. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with a number of assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All of these assessment methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario-based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your everyday practice.

Career prospects

Employment opportunities for graduates in PE and Coaching are diverse. This course allows you to pursue a career in any aspect of coaching in the leisure, sport and fitness industries. Our graduates have taken up coaching positions in all levels of amateur and professional sports.

Additionally, there is a heavy emphasis on research skills to support those who wish to pursue a combined career in applied practice and academia at MSc or PhD level.

After gaining the foundations in physical education during their degree, many of our graduate’s progress to a Professional Masters in Education and begin their careers as a PE teacher.

Portobello Institute sports graduates are eligible for a huge array of post graduate courses in Ireland and the UK.  Dr. Susan Giblin, head of the sports department, explains “our sports graduates are in demand for selection onto post grad courses because of the broad range of subjects in the degree programme and our focus on up to date thinking and learning in all aspects of sport”.  She suggests that “our classes are small and we take a personal interest in each student … in year three, we work with them to define their career goals and help them develop a plan to achieve them”.

Related Courses

Full Time

BSc (Hons) Sports Science & Performance Analysis

This full-time BSc Sports Science and Performance Analysis will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of sports science and the opportunity to qualify and work as a professional sports performance analyst.

Portobello Institute
Start Date
4th October 2021
Full Time

BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy

This full-time BSc Hons in Sports Therapy gives you the opportunity to qualify and work as a professional sports therapist with the option to progress to study a Masters in Physiotherapy and become a qualified physiotherapist.

Portobello Institute
Start Date
4th October 2021

Who else has studied this degree?

Student Feedback – Matthew Bursey

Following his BSc in PE and Coaching at Portobello Institute, Matthew is now  studying his PGCE (Post Graduate Certification in Education) in the UK at Exeter University in South West England.

Matthew attributes his success on the postgraduate course to the grounding he received at Portobello, “we had great facilities and great lecturers on the degree … they always ensured that we understood everything which meant that I was well equipped and confident in my ability to undertake this post graduate course”.

Speak to an expert

Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and possible progression routes to Masters programmes – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.

It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.

Your Consultant

Johanna Shaw

About Johanna 

Johanna is Portobello Institute’s Sports Development and Admissions Advisor. Prior to working with us Johanna worked in TCD and Kingston College in the UK. Johanna completed a MPhil in Physical Activity for Health and a BSc in Sport & Exercise Science.

How long are you working in Portobello?

I started working at Portobello in August 2020.

What do you enjoy about working in Portobello?

I enjoy working with the other staff here at Portobello, everyone is so friendly and happy to help there are no stupid questions or ideas.

What inspires you about working in education?

I love being able to make a huge difference to so many students lives and helping them progress towards the career they want to do or didn’t know they could do before they talked to me.

Have you a story that you recall that touched you/made you laugh/made you cry?

I am always touched when you meet or hear from a past student and hear all the amazing achievements they gained after completing the course you helped put them on or helped get them through.

How do you feel when you have helped a student reach a decision on their course choice?

My role is so rewarding when you know you have helped a student get one step closer to the career they are interested in.

Book a consultation

How do I apply?

Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.


With a Leaving Certificate

Sitting the Leaving Certificate in 2021

Students may apply and be granted a “Conditional Offer” prior to completing the Leaving Certificate.

Step 1 – Submit application

Step 2 – Attend interview

Step 3 – Conditional Offer issued on the basis of successful achievement of LC requirements

Step 4 – Confirm acceptance of a place and pay deposit as detailed

Places can not be held open for applicants awaiting leaving certificate results, however should a student accept a place and then choose not to progress with this course, after first round CAO offers have been made, a refund of 75% of fees paid will be made. Refunds must be requested in writing on or before 25th August 2021.

Applicants who have completed the Leaving Certificate;

Minimum of grade C or O6 in ordinary level Biology* or Physical Education, English and Maths with a pass in 3 other subjects.

*Applicants who do not hold LC Biology or Physical Education, are required to undertake the QQI level 5 Anatomy & Physiology and use this award in place of LC Biology. This course is available through Portobello Institute, further information available here

Without a Leaving Certificate

Applicants should meet one of the following criteria;

  • QQI level 5 major award containing a biology subject
  • ITEC level 2 award containing anatomy & physiology
  • An undergraduate degree in another subject
  • QQI Level 5 Anatomy & Physiology – available through Portobello Institute
  • Mature entry at 21 years. Mature students are reviewed on a case by case basis and entry is via interview. Those without a grounding in science and a previous academic qualification in science or biology, must complete QQI Level 5 Anatomy & Physiology or equivalent. This course is available through Portobello Institute, further information available here
  • Equivalent qualifications with biology/anatomy & physiology module
Application Process

Step 1

Complete the online booking form.

Apply Now

Step 2

Applicants will be contacted for confirmation of the entry criteria.

Step 3

Confirmation of a place will be given to applicants immediately meeting the criteria.

Applicants who do not meet the criteria, may be required to attend an interview with an offer of a place on the programme issued following assessment of suitability. Applicants confirm acceptance of offer by returning acceptance form.

Please note places on this course are only confirmed once tuition fees have been received.

Students will be registered as an undergraduate degree student with London Metropolitan University.

Fees & Payment Options

  • Year 1 Fees & Payment Options

    Fees (Year1)

    Course Price

    Per academic year.


    Exam Body Reg. Fee

    Per academic year - due at start of academic year.


    Full Payment

    Total amount payable (Year 1).


    Easy Payment Plan

    Deposit of 40% upon acceptance of offer. Balance paid over 6 instalments commencing 1st October. All additional fees such as exam registration fees etc are included in the Easy Payment Plan.

    Deposit Amount

    40% deposit payment, due on application of your course.


    Instalments Payments

    Deposit payment (€2,446.00), followed by 6 scheduled payments every 1 month(s).

    Includes one off instalment fee of €295.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).

    • €611.50 due on 1st October 2021.
    • €611.50 due on 1st November 2021.
    • €611.50 due on 1st December 2021.
    • €611.50 due on 1st January 2022.
    • €611.50 due on 1st February 2022.
    • €611.50 due on 1st March 2022.
  • Year 2 Fees & Payment Options

    Fees (Year2)

    Course Price

    Per academic year.


    Exam Body Reg. Fee

    Per academic year - due at start of academic year.


    Full Payment

    Total amount payable (Year 2).


    Easy Payment Plan

    Deposit of 40% upon acceptance of offer. Balance paid over 6 instalments commencing 1st October. All additional fees such as exam registration fees etc are included in the Easy Payment Plan.

    Deposit Amount

    40% deposit payment, due on application of your course.


    Instalments Payments

    Deposit payment (€2,426.00), followed by 6 scheduled payments every 1 month(s).

    Includes one off instalment fee of €295.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).

    • €606.50 due on 1st October 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st November 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st December 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st January 2022.
    • €606.50 due on 1st February 2022.
    • €606.50 due on 1st March 2022.
  • Year 3 Fees & Payment Options

    Fees (Year3)

    Course Price

    Per academic year.


    Exam Body Reg. Fee

    Per academic year - due at start of academic year.


    Full Payment

    Total amount payable (Year 3).


    Easy Payment Plan

    Deposit of 40% upon acceptance of offer. Balance paid over 6 instalments commencing 1st October. All additional fees such as exam registration fees etc are included in the Easy Payment Plan.

    Deposit Amount

    40% deposit payment, due on application of your course.


    Instalments Payments

    Deposit payment (€2,426.00), followed by 6 scheduled payments every 1 month(s).

    Includes one off instalment fee of €295.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).

    • €606.50 due on 1st October 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st November 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st December 2021.
    • €606.50 due on 1st January 2022.
    • €606.50 due on 1st February 2022.
    • €606.50 due on 1st March 2022.