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THE UK: Subject Guides

Sports Science in the UK

With the London Olympics 2012, Sports Sciences has increased in popularity as an academic option.


With the 2012 London Olympics just around the corner, the UK has seen a massive boost in sports facilities and a greater emphasis on healthy living. As a result, sports science has increased in popularity as an academic option over the last decade due to its central role in influencing society’s health and lifestyle. It is more than just fun; it requires professionals committed to the improvement of people’s quality of life and requires a deep understanding of the human body and its capabilities. If you love sports activities and a healthy lifestyle, there is no reason why this passion can’t be turned into a successful and respected career. Hotcourses’ Japan editor, Kanako, is here to help you get started.

If you are interested in sports, fitness and healthy-lving, studying sports science in the UK could be an option for you. Lots of universities offer sports science BSc degrees and various types of courses are available for you to choose from.

What is sports science?

You might think it hard to imagine what sports science students actually learn. This is because the basic understanding of the core principles does not go a great deal deeper than Physical Education at GCSE or A-level. However, have you ever thought about what makes you jump higher when you are playing basketball or wondered how nutrition could improve your performance? Solving these mysteries is the ultimate goal of sports science – over the years, as professional sports have become more and more competitive, an educational and technological arms race has developed, in which teams and individuals strive to find even the most infinitesimal edge that could prove to be the margin between victory and defeat. It is this edge that sports scientists seek to find.

Another area of interest in sports science is the impact of sports on health (physical and mental) in the general public or on pupils in school. These themes or subjects would be studied in anatomy, physiology, psychology, nutrition and bio-mechanics modules. On the other hand, if you are more interested in coaching or becoming a PE teacher, some universities offer professional coaching courses as well.

What kind of institutions offer sports science courses?

In the UK, various universities offer sports science degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Usually the full-time undergraduate course lasts three years and postgraduate courses only one year.

The Guardian newspaper has recently released the latest university rankings for 2012 according to subjects. In the sports science section you can compare 67 universities in the UK that offer these courses.

What are the entry requirements?

Usually undergraduate level courses require any A-level or its equivalent. Science A-level is desirable. International students who don’t have any A-level equivalent qualification might need to complete a foundation year, and will then be allowed to enter the undergraduate course. In addition to that, international students from non-English speaking countries require to prove their English level. Usually IELTS band score required is 6.0 minimum.

Postgraduate level requires a previous degree  (related subjects are desirable) and an IELTS band score of 6.5 or above is required to fulfil the English level requirement.

What can I learn in the course?

The course varies according to the university, and specialised area. Mainly, most of the assessment in these courses would be based on coursework and exams. However, as this subject has a “scientific” component, lots of research work will also be included.

For example, Bangor University has a sports/health/ exercise science school within the university and they have a specialised research centre and several laboratories.  So if you are interested in a scientific approach to sports, check which university has greatest research opportunities.

In contrast, if you are interested in a sociological approach to sports, some universities also offer very interesting courses for you.  For example Bournemouth University offers sports development courses, within the course itself, so you can learn about the relationship between sports and society, leisure industry, tourism, and international markets.

See the full list of UK universities offering undergraduate sports and science courses.

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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