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Sports Science Subject Guide

Are you thinking about the best way to successfully apply for sport science jobs? Or perhaps wondering what the best universities are for sports science? Whether you’ve already completed an undergraduate degree in sport science or are looking to move into it from related areas like nutrition or human health, a postgraduate sports science degree is a great route into a variety of exciting careers. 

This guide contains everything you’ll want to know about what sports science is, what type of degree courses are available, what type of sports science graduate jobs exist and the entry requirements for postgraduate study. 

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about studying sports science, why you should do a course in the subject, and where you could study. 


Why do a sports science degree? 

Sport science is an interdisciplinary field that aims to understand the physical, psychological and social aspects of human performance in sport and physical activity. It draws on principles of physiology, biomechanics, psychology, chemistry and human biology to understand how to optimise human performance. 

Sport science is a popular subject at postgraduate level for several reasons. For athletes, coaches, and trainers, sport science can provide the knowledge and tools needed to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. For those working in the sports industry, sport science can provide a deeper understanding of the business and management side of the industry. Postgraduate courses in sport science can lead to jobs in sports medicine, sports nutrition, sports psychology, or other related fields.  

Ultimately, sport science is a great way for people to combine their passion for sports with scientific research and technical understanding. 

What qualifications can you get? 

There are several types of qualification you could work towards through a postgraduate sports science course. Each one will be the perfect choice for a student based on their existing educational and professional experience, career goals, and academic interests. 

The MSc is the most popular sports science master’s, providing a taught curriculum that covers and deepens learning in core areas of exercise science, sport management and performance. Elements of this curriculum can be completed through PGCert and PGDip qualifications, allowing students to build knowledge and skills in this field across a shorter span of time. 

It’s also possible to complete MA and LLM courses in this field, placing a focus on the policy, management, psychology or laws that relate to sport and exercise sciences. 

Research qualifications, ranging from a Master of Research to MPhil or PhD, allow students to study independently, designing and conducting impactful research in their area of interest. 

Go to: Search for sports science courses

What jobs can you do with a sports science degree? 

Studying at postgraduate level in this subject is a great way to stand out to employers when it comes to sports science graduate jobs. With advanced training in the theory and practices of sports science, as well as richer practical and research experience than undergraduates, you’ll be able to demonstrate your ability to work well and make an impact wherever you work. 

Some of the sport science jobs available to you include: 

  • Activities manager 
  • Clinical scientist 
  • Event manager 
  • Exercise physiologist 
  • Health improvement officer 
  • Nutritionist 
  • Performance analyst 
  • Personal trainer 
  • Sports administration 
  • Sports coaching 
  • Sports development manager 
  • Sports massage therapist 
  • Sports psychologist 
  • Sports therapist 

The analytical and research skills you’ve developed, as well as professional skills such as communication, problem-solving and critical thinking, will help you find work across a wide range of jobs beyond what is listed here. 

What are the sports science degree entry requirements? 

Entry requirements for a sports science degree can vary based on the programme type and academic focus. However, in general, you’ll need a 2:2 or above at undergraduate level—in a relevant discipline—to get a place on a sports science master’s course. The higher the grade, the better your chances. 

Applicants for research qualifications, like a PhD, will need to demonstrate their achievement of previous qualifications that contain a minimum research component. 

What sports science courses are there? 

There are various study options available in this field, which may suit you best depending on the sports science jobs you want to move into or your education to date. Some possible courses include: 

  • MSc Sport Science and Performance Coaching 
  • MRes Sport and Exercise Science 
  • MSc Strength and Conditioning 
  • MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology 
  • PhD Postgraduate Research in Sports and Recreation 

What topics does a sports science degree cover? 

Your sports science course will have a unique blend of compulsory and optional modules, allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests and career goals. Although they vary, you may study topics like: 

  • Tactical and technical development in sport 
  • Marginal gains for peak performance 
  • Physical preparation in sport and exercise 
  • Psychology of sport and performance 
  • Applied research methods and study design 

What do you learn in a sports science degree? 

A course in sports science allows you to develop a variety of skills, including scientific literacy, research skills, critical thinking, practical skills, interdisciplinary understanding and industry-specific techniques. 

You’ll learn how athletes function and how peak fitness levels can be attained through diet, training and other factors. You’ll develop a deep understanding of the scientific principles behind topics like human anatomy and psychiatry, biomechanics, exercise physiology and sport psychology. 

You might choose a broad sports science degree that provides you with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills relevant to different industries and sport types, or you might use your postgraduate studies as an opportunity to specialise in a specific niche. 

How will you be taught and assessed? 

Sport science courses typically involve a combination of lectures, laboratory work, and practical sessions. Your course content may include topics such as human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology and sport psychology, but this will vary.  

Practical sessions are a big part of sport science master’s courses, and may involve activities such as fitness testing, skill acquisition and training programs, as well as lab sessions. 

Assessment could be through supervised practical sessions, whether on sports pitches and courts or in the lab, as well as written exams and coursework. Your coursework might take the form of essays, research papers, individual or group projects, and presentations. 

How long is a sports science degree? 

Sports science degrees vary depending on the type of course you’ve chosen, and your study pattern. 

An MSc in sports science is one of the more popular options, lasting one year in most cases if studied full-time. MA and MRes qualifications are also options, lasting just as long. Studying any of them part-time will take two years in most cases. 

You might opt for a shorter postgraduate course, like a PGCert or PGDip. These take one or two semesters, respectively, when studied full-time. 

A doctoral qualification, such as an MPhil or a PhD, will take two or four years full-time, or up to four and eight years part-time, respectively. 

Where can you study sports science? 

There are more than 260 sport science courses at postgraduate level in the UK, on offer at a variety of universities. You can use our university search tool to explore them all and identify the best universities for your preferences. 

What similar subjects are there to sports science? 

There are other subjects which might be worth considering for study at postgraduate level, if you’re thinking about a degree in sports science. You might also be considered in areas such as: 

  • Nutrition 
  • Physiotherapy 
  • Biomedical sciences 
  • Psychology 
  • Medicine 

Next: Search for sports science courses


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