Studying sport and exercise science in the UK

Study one of the most popular subjects in the UK, and enjoy the benefits of high-quality courses and different opportunities.

Sport and exercise science is one of the top ten most popular subjects studied at university in the UK, with over 10,000 students graduating from sport and exercise science degrees in 2011. Sport and exercise science can be studied at over 70 different universities in the UK, but students can also study numerous other degrees jointly with sport and exercise science. Applications from overseas students are welcomed at all UK universities and there are several benefits of studying sport and exercise science in the UK.

In her 2010 Christmas speech, the Queen highlighted the importance of sport and health in maintaining the country’s wellbeing and, with the legacy from the 2012 Olympics, this will be high on the national agenda whilst you are studying in the UK. Other benefits of studying sport and exercise science in the UK include the range and diversity of programmes available and the potential to continue studying at a postgraduate level.

So why should you study sport and exercise science at a UK university and how do you choose an appropriate university? Sport and exercise science is the application of scientific principles to the promotion and enhancement of sport and exercise-related behaviours. All degrees in sport and exercise science in the UK include the three parent disciplines of biomechanics, physiology and psychology, to understand how we function in sport, physical activity and health environments. All programmes will also teach you how to conduct and understand research and you will be required to complete an independent study in your final year. After this, programmes will have a different focus or specialism. Some programmes will place greater emphasis on sports performance and others on exercise and health, coaching, management, nutrition, physical education and so on.

The British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) Undergraduate Endorsement Scheme (BUES) awards endorsement to those sport and exercise science programmes which provide undergraduates with the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills BASES considers essential to enter the profession. All BUES-endorsed programmes will ensure that students study sufficient psychology, biomechanics and physiology and that some time is dedicated to study of an interdisciplinary nature and independent study. Students are also required to undertake laboratory-based activities. See -

Due to their location or interest in research, different universities offer different opportunities for overseas students. For example, some universities are more focused on teaching and the application of sport and exercise science in both the community and in elite organisations, whereas others focus more on research. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to represent your university in the British University Sports Association Competition (BUSA) and may excel in non-traditional British sports.

The employment rates and National Student Survey results for sports-related subjects are both very good so if you do decide to study sport and exercise science in the UK, then you will definitely enjoy the challenges and enjoy your studies, but you will also be an employable graduate at the end of your studies.

Professor Richard Tong
Divison of Education and Professional Development
The British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences (BASES)