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Why Study Sport in the United Kingdom?

Welcome to the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of the four home countries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with a total population of approximately 65 million people. It has one of the largest economies in the world, with a high standard of living. The UK is described by its tourist board as a country of: “Iconic landmarks, breath-taking countryside and unrivalled heritage”. The iconic landmarks include Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, the Giant’s Causeway, and the London 2012 Olympic Park. The breath-taking countryside provides visitors with opportunities to take part in sporting activities in one of the 15 national parks including the hills and mountain ranges of the Cairngorms, Snowdonia and the Lake District, and in the waterways of the Broads and Pembrokeshire. Its heritage includes literature (from Shakespeare to Harry Potter), music (including the Beatles and Adele) and, of course, sport!

Sport in the United Kingdom

The UK is often regarded as the ‘home’ of modern sports and, as such, is the ideal place to study sport at university. The Industrial Revolution first began in England around 1760, spreading quickly to other parts of the UK and Europe, and this led to a transformation of sport as a result of a reduced working week, increased real earnings, improved public transport, and the expansion of commercial provision. Many British people now had more time, money, and opportunity to take part in sport. This also enabled sports that originated in the UK to be spread around the world, in particular through Britain’s relations with its European neighbours and other countries in the Commonwealth.  In 2012, London became the first city to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games for a third time, and in 2016 the UK became the first country in the history of the modern Olympics to increase its tally of medals in the games after being the host nation.


Tower Bridge, London, displaying the Olympic Rings during the London 2012 Games

British Universities and Undergraduate Sport Programmes

There are 160 Universities in the United Kingdom, most of which offer courses with ‘sport’ in the title. Some will offer courses that allow students to study a breadth of disciplines related to Sport Science or Sport Studies, whereas others offer courses which enable you to specialise in particular areas of sport. At the University of Chichester, for example, you can choose from 20 different undergraduate programmes including ‘Adventure Education’, ‘Football Coaching and Performance’, ‘Physical Education and Sports Coaching’, ‘Sport Business and Management’, and ‘Sports Therapy’. At most British universities there are options to study sport-related degrees at Foundation and Bachelor degree level, leading to a Foundation or Bachelor of Arts, and Foundation or Bachelor of Science qualification.  Some universities offer opportunities for combined honours degree programmes so that you can study sport alongside another subject.  Most universities now offer opportunities to undertake a work placement with external organisations which help students develop their vocational skills in preparation for employment.

International students can expect to pay tuition fees of approximately GBP£10,000-£13,000 per year of study to complete an undergraduate degree in a sport-related subject.


Postgraduate Study

There are increasing opportunities to study sport at postgraduate level at University. These include undertaking a taught postgraduate degree programme that leads to a Master of Arts (MA/MArt) or Master of Science (MSc/MSci) degree, completing a programme with a greater research weighting which leads to a Master of Research (MRes) degree, or undertaking a postgraduate research qualification where the student completes a research project with a supervisor and results in a Master or Doctor of Philosophy (MPhil/DPhil/PhD).

International students can expect to pay tuition fees of approximately GBP£10,000-£13,000 per year of study to complete a postgraduate degree in a sport-related subject.

Professional Accreditation

Some degree programmes offer the opportunity to become a recognised practitioner while studying at university. For example, many sport and exercise psychology programmes offer a ‘BPS route’ which enables students to gain accreditation by the British Psychological Society alongside achieving their postgraduate qualification. Similarly, the Society of Sport Therapists offers accreditation for students on approximately 23 recognised degree programmes. The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) also offers an undergraduate endorsement scheme in recognition of the appropriateness of course content for the relevant profession.

Sport-Related Activities at University

Many students who study sport will also want opportunities to be involved in sporting activities while at university, whether at a recreational level or in competitive sport. These opportunities are usually delivered through the Student Union which will advertise a list of sport clubs available to registered students. Inter-university sport competitions are organised by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). Many students also successfully combine their studies with training for elite level sport. For example, at the University of Chichester, Saskia Clark and Emma Wiggs both graduated with sport degrees, successfully going on to achieve an Olympic gold medal in sailing (Clark) and Paralympic gold medal in canoeing (Wiggs).


Olympic gold medallist Saskia Clark


Paralympic gold medallist Emma Wiggs

Most sport departments also have research centres linked to staff expertise, and these will give you an indication of what kinds of activities you might be able to get involved with as part of your studies.  For example, at the University of Chichester, there is the Anita White Foundation which includes the archive of the International Women and Sport Movement and opportunities for students to become involved in research and projects supporting the education and development of women sport leaders from countries where women face particular challenges.

Useful links:

British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences:

British Sociological Association Sport Study Group:

British Universities and Colleges Sport:

The Society of Sports Therapists:

University of Chichester Institute of Sport:

About the Contributor: Dr Elizabeth Pike


Dr Elizabeth Pike is the Head of Sport Development and Management, a Reader in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise, and Chair of the Anita White Foundation, at the University of Chichester.  She has delivered presentations across the world critically evaluating issues related to social inclusion and wellbeing in sports, specifically concerning ageing, gender, risk and injury.  Her recent publications include a co-authored book (with Jay Coakley) entitled Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, and a co-edited book (with Simon Beames) examining Outdoor Adventure and Social Theory.  As the Head of Department, she is likely to be the first person you would meet when you come to study at the University of Chichester, and she teaches and supervises students undertaking courses and research in the sociology of sport.