Study Physical Education

Physical education is a discipline that covers the teaching and provision of sports and exercise in schools and other education settings. A cross-discipline subject, physical education studies will develop your knowledge and skills in both teaching and education, and sports and coaching. These skills will mean that you are able to pursue a career of your choice, either within education or outside education.

Highlighted courses and degrees in Physical Education



An undergraduate level degree in physical education will provide you with a foundation of knowledge in the area. You might study modules on the fundamentals of sport coaching, teaching physical education, sport and exercise science, the growth and development of children and adolescents, and physical activity and health.

Your degree will be delivered through a mixture of modes. These will include lectures and seminars, as well as incorporating practical sessions. Depending on your course, you may be presented with the opportunity to take part in a placement year or module. This will give you the chance to apply and develop your skills in a real teaching environment.


A postgraduate degree in physical education will allow you to build on the knowledge you gained at undergraduate level. You will also be able to further develop your practical skills. Your modules will cover more complex and specialist areas of sport and physical education. These may include the psychology of physical education, contemporary issues in physical education, diversity and social justice within sports, and acquiring movement skills.

Your degree will be delivered through lectures and seminars, as well as practical sessions. It is likely that you will have the chance to take part in a placement, allowing you to gain more advanced and hands-on work experience.


Depending on where you choose to study, you may be able to specialise towards the end of your degree. This specialisation can influence the area in which you choose to work after you have graduated. It can also help you to decide which area you wish to write your research project or dissertation on. Common specialisations include:

  • Physical Education in Secondary Schools
  • Physical Education in Primary Schools
  • Applied Pedagogy
  • Outdoor Adventure Activities
  • Sport, Deviancy and the Law
  • Racism in Sport
  • Sport for International Development and Peace

Accreditation and Certification

The accreditation of your degree programme will depend on where you choose to study. It will also be influenced by your level of study. At undergraduate level, you can expect to be awarded a Bachelor of Science (BSc), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Education (BEd). At postgraduate level, you can expect to be awarded a Master of Science (MSc), a Master of Arts (MA), a Master of Education (MEd), or a PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education), or the international equivalent. If you choose to take a postgraduate research degree, you will be awarded a Master of Research (MRes), a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Depending on your institution, your course may also be accredited by a professional or academic body. For example, if you are awarded a PGCE or QTS, you will graduate as a qualified teacher. Other courses may be accredited by bodies such as the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), as well as others.

Timeframe and Further Studies

Generally, an undergraduate degree will take three to four years to complete. Foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates can last up to two years, when studied full-time. A postgraduate degree will normally take one to two years. If your course includes a placement, this will normally add another year onto your studies.

Some institutions might offer part-time study options. Studying a degree part-time normally means that your course will last anywhere between three and eight years, with some universities offering more flexible study options.

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Entry Requirements for Degrees in Physical Education


The entry requirements for an undergraduate degree in physical education will depend on where you choose to study. Normally, you will be required to have previously studied physical education, or a similar subject. If you do not have a strong background in this area, but are passionate about physical education, some institutions may still consider your application.

Some universities might require you to sit an entrance exam, where others may rely on previous exam results. Other universities might consider relevant work experience. If your native language is not English, it is likely that you will be required to provide evidence that your English language skills are to a high enough standard.


The entry requirements for a postgraduate degree in physical education will also depend on where you choose to study. They will also be influenced by the level of postgraduate degree you are applying for. Typically, you will be expected to have an undergraduate degree in physical education, sports and exercise science, or a closely related subject.

You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their physical education programmes.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.

Typical entry requirements:

  • UK6.0 IELTS, 2:2 or higher
  • USA6.0 IELTS, 3.5 GPA

Fund Your Studies

Tuition fees for international students are not fixed. This means that they can vary greatly from institution to institution. Fees for postgraduate degree courses tend to be higher than undergraduate courses. Exact tuition fees are displayed on institution course pages.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section to read more about funding your studies.

Typical course fees (per year):

  • UG£13,000/$23,750
  • PG£16,000/$35,000

Career Options

Graduates of a physical education degree will find that there are a wide range of career opportunities available to them. If you choose to work in a role directly related to your degree, jobs could include physical education teacher (primary, secondary, or higher education), physical fitness coach, sports tutor, or talent development officer. If you choose to work in a role not directly related to your degree, jobs could include performance analyst, nutritionist, or sports coach.

You will have gained a variety of skills throughout your degree. These skills will be widely applicable and transferable, meaning that your employment opportunities are not limited to sports and physical education. These will include communication skills, project management, time management, problem solving, and the ability to work with a range of different people.

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