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Unit of study_

EXSS2036: The Body Clock and Athletic Performance

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit focuses on developing an understanding of how circadian rhythm impacts athletic performance. The relationship between personal best performance and circadian phenotypes is examined through the predictors of peak performance time and optimal performance. There is an emphasis on the importance of aligning the body clock with the external environment for both health and sports performance. The unit also covers concepts of sleep as a performance enhancer, temporal variation in physiological variables, over-training, muscle damage and fatigue and recovery strategies.

Unit details and rules

Unit code EXSS2036
Academic unit Movement Sciences
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Chin Moi Chow,
Lecturer(s) Chin Moi Chow,
Daniel Hackett,
Yu Sun Bin,
Tutor(s) Anju Verma,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
EXSS2036 Final exam
MCQ and short-answer questions
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Online task Online Quizzes
Four Canvas quizzes: Wk4 (2.5%), Wk9 (5%), Wk13 (2.5%).
10% Multiple weeks 20-40 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation group assignment EXSS2036 Oral Presentation
Oral presentation in scheduled tutorial time on the 29th or 30th March
30% Week 06
Due date: 29 Mar 2023 at 12:00
10 minutes per Team
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO4 LO5
Assignment EXSS2036 Infographics
Infographics as a supportive resource to present a topic of own selection
20% Week 08
Due date: 23 Apr 2023 at 23:59
A4 page in PDF format
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  1. Final exam: Written exam, written exam with non-written elements, however assessed. Worth 40%.
  2. Presentation (group): Oral presentation worth 30% (plus presentation slides submission)
  3. Online task: Three online quizzes worth a total of 10%.
  4. Infographic submission (individual) worth 20% 

The listed assessments are compulsory except for online quizzes. The details for assessment requirements will be available on CANVAS.

Assessment criteria

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Standard late penalties will apply for assessments that are not submitted on time unless a simple extension or special consideration is granted. An Absent Fail for the unit will be awarded for non-submission of any assessment.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Unit of study Lecture: Sleep Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Lecture: Overview of circadian rhythms; Sleep Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Practical: Chronotype and peak performance time Practical (2 hr) LO2 LO6
Week 03 Lecture: Sleep and exercise performance; sleep deprivation/restriction and sleep promotion Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Tutorial 1 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 04 Lecture: Exercise on sleep; Keeping an internal sense of time Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 05 Lecture: Keeping an internal sense of time; The circadian molecular clock and circ rhythmicity Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Week 06 Lecture: Circadian misalignment; Oral Presentation: Chronotype and performance Presentation (2 hr) LO2 LO4 LO6
Week 07 Lecture: Realigning circadian rhythms Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO5
Tutorial 2 Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 08 Lecture: Variability in performance; Infographic assignment due Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Lecture: Variability in sports performance Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Tutorial 3 Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 10 Lecture: Circadian medicine Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO5
Week 11 Lecture: Muscle damage and fatigue Lecture (2 hr) LO7
Week 12 Lecture: Muscle damage and fatigue; Strategies for recovery Lecture (2 hr) LO7
Tutorial 4 Tutorial (2 hr) LO7
Week 13 Review lectures Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance and participation are required for:

Week 2         Practical Session (also choose your own team in class)

Week 3         Tutorial 1 (also discuss Infographics and choose own topic)

Week 6         Oral Presentation

Week 8         Submission of Infographic 

Week 15/16  Final Exam

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

  1. Roenneberg, T., & Merrow, M. (2016). The circadian clock and human health. Current biology, 26(10), R432-R443.
  2. Roenneberg T, Wirz-Justice A, Merrow M. Life between clocks: daily temporal patterns of human chronotypes. J Biol Rhythms. 2003 Feb;18(1):80-90. doi: 10.1177/0748730402239679. PMID: 12568247
  3. Kantermann, T., & Burgess, H. J. (2017). Average midsleep time as a proxy for circadian phase. PsyCh journal, 6(4), 290-291.
  4. Chow CM. Sleep and wellbeing, now and in the future 2020.
  5. Sandro Lecci, Jacinthe Cataldi, Monica Betta, Giulio Bernardi, Raphaël Heinzer, Francesca Siclari, Electroencephalographic changes associated with subjective under- and overestimation of sleep duration, Sleep, Volume 43, Issue 11, November 2020, zsaa094.
  6. Jelena Skorucak, Emma L Arbon, Derk-Jan Dijk, Peter Achermann, Response to chronic sleep restriction, extension, and subsequent total sleep deprivation in humans: adaptation or preserved sleep homeostasis?, Sleep, Volume 41, Issue 7, July 2018, zsy078,
  7. Rae, D. E., Chin, T., Dikgomo, K., Hill, L., McKune, A. J., Kohn, T. A., & Roden, L. C. (2017). One night of partial sleep deprivation impairs recovery from a single exercise training session. European journal of applied physiology, 117(4), 699-712.
  8. Shank SS, Margoliash D. Sleep and sensorimotor integration during early vocal learning in a songbird. Nature. 2009 Mar 5;458(7234):73-7. doi: 10.1038/nature07615. Epub 2008 Dec 14. PMID: 19079238; PMCID: PMC2651989.
  9. Kanaley JA, Weltman JY, Veldhuis JD, Rogol AD, Hartman ML, Weltman A. Human growth hormone response to repeated bouts of aerobic exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Nov;83(5):1756-61. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1997.83.5.1756. PMID: 9375348.
  10. Mah, C. D., Mah, K. E., Kezirian, E. J., & Dement, W. C. (2011). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943-950.
  11. Chow, C.M. Sleep Hygiene Practices: Where to Now? Hygiene 2022, 2(3), 146-151;
  12. Vitale, J.A., Weydahl, A. Chronotype, Physical Activity, and Sport Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Med 47, 1859–1868 (2017).
  13. Wright Jr, K. P., McHill, A. W., Birks, B. R., Griffin, B. R., Rusterholz, T., & Chinoy, E. D. (2013). Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle. Current Biology, 23(16), 1554-1558.
  14. Thorne, H. C., Jones, K. H., Peters, S. P., Archer, S. N., & Dijk, D. J. (2009). Daily and seasonal variation in the spectral composition of light exposure in humans. Chronobiology International, 26(5), 854-866.
  15. Kidd, P. B., Young, M. W., & Siggia, E. D. (2015). Temperature compensation and temperature sensation in the circadian clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences112(46), E6284-E6292.
  16. Wever, R. A. (1984). Properties of human sleep-wake cycles: parameters of internally synchronized free-running rhythms. Sleep7(1), 27-51.
  17. Jonathan S. Emens, Krista Yuhas, Jennifer Rough, Nidhi Kochar, Dawn Peters & Alfred J. Lewy (2009) Phase Angle of Entrainment in Morning and EveningTypes under Naturalistic Conditions, Chronobiology International, 26:3, 474-493, DOI: 10.1080/07420520902821077
  18. St Hilaire MA, Gooley JJ, Khalsa SBS, Kronauer RE, Czeisler CA, Lockley SW. Human phase response curve to a 1 h pulse of bright white light. The Journal of Physiology. 2012;590(13):3035-45.
  19. Youngstedt SD, Elliott JA, Kripke DF. Human circadian phase-response curves for exercise. J Physiol. 2019;597(8):2253-68.
  20. Eichner, E. R. (1988). Circadian timekeepers in sports. The Physician and sportsmedicine16(2), 78-85.
  21. Facer-Childs, E., & Brandstaetter, R. (2015). The impact of circadian phenotype and time since awakening on diurnal performance in athletes. Current biology25(4), 518-522.
  22. Facer-Childs, E. R., Middleton, B., Skene, D. J., & Bagshaw, A. P. (2019). Resetting the late timing of ‘night owls’ has a positive impact on mental health and performance. Sleep medicine60, 236-247.
  23. Vitale, J. A., & Weydahl, A. (2017). Chronotype, physical activity, and sport performance: a systematic review. Sports Medicine47(9), 1859-1868.
  24. Grgic, J., Lazinica, B., Garofolini, A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Saner, N. J., & Mikulic, P. (2019). The effects of time of day-specific resistance training on adaptations in skeletal muscle hypertrophy and muscle strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Chronobiology international, 36(4), 449-460.
  25. Allada, R., & Bass, J. (2021). Circadian mechanisms in medicine. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(6), 550-561. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1802337
  26. Ruan, W., Yuan, X. & Eltzschig, H.K. Circadian rhythm as a therapeutic target. Nat Rev Drug Discov 20, 287–307 (2021).

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Reading List, available on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate knowledge in the physiology of sleep and sleep as a performance enhancer
  • LO2. Comprehend the entrainment concept of the body clock and the external environment cue of light-dark cycle
  • LO3. Apply the knowledge of light and exercise as zeitgebers to phase-shifting and its application to circadian misalignments
  • LO4. Demonstrate competency in the skills of: a) reporting (data gathering, analysis and interpretation) b) oral presentation (organisation and visualisation)
  • LO5. Recognise the impact of circadian timing on physiological, physical and cognitive performance
  • LO6. Understand the underlying chronotype on optimal athletic performance
  • LO7. Understand the circadian rhythms of muscle strength and fatigue and strategies for recovery

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

- Changes made to tutorial format to include participatory activities - Reordering of lecture contents


Work, health and safety

The Work Health and Safety practical induction checklist must be completed by each student in consultation with the tutor. 


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