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Durham University

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Undergraduate Study

Study Sports and Exercise

Study Sports and Exercise

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Learn more about what it is like to study sports and exercise at Durham University

"Studying sport and exercise at Durham involves engaging with issues ranging from the development of elite athletes, approaches to encourage initial participation amongst young people to addressing societal issues such as obesity, doping and crime."

Why Durham?

Our distinctive undergraduate degrees in the Department for Sport and Exercise Sciences are consistently highly ranked by students and employers as well as in university guides for the following reasons:


Subject Areas

Overall, our undergraduate degrees encompass the following subject areas. Students on both our BA and BSc programmes will have the flexibility to study and choose modules from across these subject areas in each of the three years of their degree.

We need to understand how the human body works in order to understand how it reacts to sport and exercise. We begin by examining basic anatomy and the main body systems, as well as cell, blood and muscle function. With this knowledge, we can start to investigate what happens when we exercise.

Small-group laboratory classes give you hands-on experience of how to measure and assess respiration, metabolism, body composition, and cardiovascular systems. You will learn how to measure blood pressure, lung capacity, aerobic and anaerobic systems as well as how to test blood and urine samples from fellow students, before, during and after exercise. You may even find yourself taking an ice-bath!

In psychological modules, we explore thoughts and feelings about sport or exercise, and how these influence both participation and performance. When studying sport psychology, we consider how individuals and teams develop and excel. We cover a range of topics including: motivation; personality; anxiety and stress; injuries; group processes; and psychological training.

In exercise psychology, we explore how we can increase population activity levels, covering topics including: barriers to participation; public health intervention strategies; and exercise and mental health. Across these topics we apply research to real-world problems, so you can experience working with both elite athletes and sedentary individuals.

With obesity and sedentary lifestyles of global concern, we believe it is vital to consider the potential contribution of all forms of physical activity and diet to health and well-being. We examine how active individuals and sections of the population are and consider how we can further understand the complex reasons for inactivity.

This helps determine how we might best intervene to make a population more physically active. We also consider how nutritional factors such as energy, carbohydrates, protein and fats are linked to sport, exercise and health, and how diet may be manipulated to improve performance and health within different groups.

We use a sociological lens to provide an insight into the significance of sport, helping you to think about how sport can impact upon society, and how society can impact upon sport. We seek to explain how sport drives economies, dominates the media, influences politics, and how it contributes to local and national pride.

We examine how sport can affect our ideas about masculinity and femininity, social class and wealth, race and ethnicity, ability and disability, age and aging. We also study why sport is an arena for aggression and violence, fraud and corruption, doping and other forms of cheating.

What approaches can improve participation in sport and increase success in international sport and the Olympics? Can sport effectively contribute to the development of young people or address social issues such as crime, educational attainment and exclusion?

Studying sports development and policy involves grappling with answers to such questions through applying academic understanding to explore real-life policies, programmes and examples from local, national and international contexts. You will develop your own analytic skills to identify the challenges facing sport organisations, to consider why different sports development objectives are prioritised and funded, and to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies and approaches.

In addition to these subject areas, a further flexible and distinctive opportunity at Durham is the chance to choose 'open modules' from the variety of those that are offered by other departments within the university. We also deliver our own bespoke modules across different years that enable our students to develop and utilise their own research and employability skills.

Do look at our full undergraduate brochure for further information on, for example, our Sport in the Community Placement module and what a week in the life of a Durham sport and exercise student is like.

Gold rated for teaching excellence and student outcomes

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