EXERSCI 203 : Biomechanics 1


2023 Semester One (1233) (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 EXERSCI 203 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 one of the foundational courses 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 5: Independence and Integrity
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. Measure and analyse biomechanical variables from human participants during movement using modern tools (Capability 1, 2 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Numerical problems 25% Individual Coursework
Lab reports 30% Group & Individual Coursework
In-class quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 35% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Numerical problems
Lab reports
In-class quizzes
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

Exercise Sciences has a dedicated Tuākana space at the City Campus 301-183 [1]. Exercise Sciences Tuākana space consists of several personal computers, a collection of prescribed textbooks of Exercise Sciences courses, personal study and relaxing areas with access to shared kitchen facilities. Our dedicated Tuākana tutors hold group gatherings there to build whanaungatanga and support your learning.
Tuākana students enrolled in any Exercise Sciences course are most welcome to make use of these facilities.

[1] https://maps.auckland.ac.nz/wayfinding?type=poi&selectedLocation=1000021002

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 & Campus Experience

Under normal (non-COVID) conditions, 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 activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

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

Health & Safety

Several of our lab involve physical activities such as running, jumping, and performing brief sporting activities: students should be appropriately dressed for these activities.

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.

Based on feedback from 2022, the frequency and quantity of assessments will be lowered, and learning activities will be targeted towards key skills in quantitative, logical, and critical thinking.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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. Deadlines are helpful to maintain consistent workload throughout the semester, to help manage marking loads for the teaching team, and to enable the return of feedback from which students can benefit. If, however, your personal situation affects your ability to perform or complete work by the due dates 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 Services [1]
  • Extensions can only be granted by the course coordinator. 
[1] https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/on-campus/student-support/personal-support/student-health-counselling.html

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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 02/11/2022 08:45 p.m.