EXERSCI 203 : Biomechanics 1


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Covers the mechanical basis of human movement, using quantitative and qualitative modelling approaches. Focuses on the analysis of sporting performance, locomotion, and musculoskeletal stress. Practical work explores key techniques in measurement and data analysis of human movement and the forces involved.

Course Overview

In Biomechanics 1, we explore the physical principles that underlie human movement. After completing this course, students will be able to qualitatively and quantitatively describe a variety of movements, and explain their causes in terms of muscle activations and forces. These techniques have applications in industries that include sports performance and assessment, rehabilitation, wearable device technologies, ergonomics and workplace design, and activities in the course will be related to these fields. 

EXERSCI 203 is a mandatory course in the Exercise Sciences programme, but also suitable for non-Exercise Science students who are interested in measuring or analysing how or why people move the way they do and what can be done to improve it. Potentially interested groups, in addition to budding exercise scientists, include future engineers, physicists, biomedical scientists, dancers, and athletes. EXERSCI 203 leads on to EXERSCI 303 Biomechanics 2 which focuses on applying the theory taught in 203.

High school level mathematics knowledge is expected, and support is provided in tutorials for students less confident in this area.

Course Requirements

Restriction: SPORTSCI 203

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Quantitatively describe 1- and 2-dimensional linear and rotational movement of rigid bodies. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Apply concepts of forces and momentum to explain the movements of single and multi-segment rigid bodies. (Capability 1)
  3. Formulate and solve numerical calculations from a description of a movement scenario. (Capability 2 and 3)
  4. Identify and interpret a piece of current research describing a real-world application of biomechanics knowledge (Capability 1, 4 and 6)
  5. Measure and analyse biomechanical variables from human participants during movement using modern tools (Capability 1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Numerical problems 20% Individual Coursework
Lab reports 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Article summary 5% Individual Coursework
In-class quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Test 10% Individual Test
Final Exam 35% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Numerical problems
Lab reports
Article summary
In-class quizzes
Final Exam


For more information and to find contact details for the EXERSCI 203 Tuākana coordinator, please see https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/science/study-with-us/maori-and-pacific-at-the-faculty/tuakana-programme.html.

Māori and Pasifika students can also access Tuākana support through the Maths, Statistics, and Physics Tuākana room, B13-15, Building 303.

Key Topics

The course is divided into five modules:
Module 1 - Linear Kinematics
  • distance and displacement,
  • velocity and acceleration
  • kinematic equations and projectile motion
Module 2 - Rotational Kinematics
  • angular distance, displacement, and velocity
  • three rotational accelerations - angular, tangential, and radial
  • general motion and kinematic chains
Module 3 - Linear Kinetics
  • forces and Newton's Laws
  • friction and drag, centripetal force
  • momentum and collisions
  • work, energy and power
Module 4 - Rotational Kinetics
  • moments and levers
  • moment of inertia
  • centre of mass
  • angular momentum
Module 5 - Non-rigid body kinetics
  • material properties
  • bending, shear, and torsion
  • injury

Special Requirements

The lab component of the course involves taking measurements of humans performing movements. These labs are approved by University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee on 2019-02-12 for three years, reference number 022650/2019. Since this is a science course, involvement in the labs is compulsory but students have the choice, in each lab, to act as either the participant or researcher. All students are encouraged to act as participants at some point during the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, each week you can expect 3 hours of class time, 3 hours of lab time, 2 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 2 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

The course is available remotely for overseas students.
Attendance is required at labs, and encouraged at tutorials, to complete components of the course.
Classes will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live online events including group discussions and tutorials.
Attendance on campus is not required for the test/exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Much of the information required for this course will be presented directly on Canvas, in the pages associated with each class. You are expected to check Canvas regularly (multiple times per week) to check for message and new material. Please also ensure that all your personal details (phone numbers, email addresses, and street address) are correct and kept up-to-date on Canvas and Student Services Online.
In the 'flipped' teaching and learning style this course will use, it is expected that you work through this material BEFORE coming to the relevant class. Compliance will be encouraged through pre-class quizzes which will test that you have read or watched the requested content (but won't focus too much on understanding at that stage). The in-class content and numeric problems will hopefully develop understanding.

Textbook (optional)
In addition to the material presented on Canvas, optional readings will be set for most lectures from this textbook: "Sewell, Watkins and Griffin (2012). Sport and Exercise Science: An Introduction. 2nd Ed, London: Hodder Education." The intention of the readings is to provide an alternative explanation for content presented in the course, which may help with understanding. This book is available online through the university library, and therefore, it is not necessary to purchase this book for this course.

Khan Academy
Success in EXERSCI 203 depends on possessing certain mathematical skills which should have been taught in high school. For those who require refreshing of these skills, Khan Academy provides a number of useful tutorials.
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/math/pre-algebra
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra - Down to (and including) Linear equations and functions word problems 
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/math/precalculus/vectors-precalc - Don't worry about the 'Magnitude and Direction' sections 
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/math/basic-geo - just Angles, Coordinate plane, and the Pythagorean theorem 
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/math/trigonometry
We will be going through the physics side of things pretty much from scratch, but if you want to take a look, then the topics below will be useful.
  • https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

More information on support services available from the University can be found at https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/on-campus/student-support.html.

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the AUSA Welfare team (welfare@ausa.org.nz) for support. Furthermore, if you are comfortable doing so, please notify the course director, who will provide assistance where possible.

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

This course is run in accordance with principles of equity (rather than equality), recognizing that each student's circumstances, extra-curricular burdens, and needs are different. If you have circumstances that you think will affect your ability to perform or complete work in this course, please get in touch with the course coordinator so that we can identify ways to make the course work for you.
Key points:
  • Usually, reasonable requests made before the work is due (NOT retrospectively) will be granted. 
  • Proof may be required of the reason for the request (e.g. a medical certificate). This can be done through Student Health and Counselling ServicesLinks to an external site. as appropriate. 
  • Extensions can only be granted by the course coordinator. 
Assignments that are handed in after the due date and time will receive a late penalty unless you have obtained an extension prior to the due date or subsequently prove circumstances outside your control prevented you from completing the assignment in time. Assignment penalties will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

The following conditions will apply under the different COVID-19 alert levels.

Level 1: Delivery normally as specified in delivery mode.
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. The following activities will also have an on-campus option: labs, office hours.
Level 3 and 4: All teaching and assessment will be conducted remotely, using video conferencing.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 22/12/2020 12:20 p.m.