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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Are you fascinated by the relationship between exercise, performance and health? Would you like to embark on a BSc that is aligned with industry developments and the latest research?

Here at Durham, our expertise across the Department prepares you to tackle traditional and emergent sport and exercise problems from a variety of academic disciplines and perspectives. With a curriculum developed and delivered by an academic team actively involved in research, you’ll build a firm foundation of knowledge in traditional sport, exercise and health sciences, including: physiology; psychology; physical activity, nutrition and health. 

The course also offers the flexibility to select modules from cognate disciplines, such as: Sociology of Sport; Sport, Health and the Environment; and Sports Development, so that you develop a broader, more holistic knowledge across the wider field of sport and exercise.

With an emphasis on employability, there are opportunities for you to develop your transferable skill set and take a placement module in a sport or exercise vocational setting, as well as 'open modules' from other departments. You also have the choice of applying to add an industry placement year or a study year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

The final-year dissertation research project is an opportunity to engage in deeper investigation of a sport or exercise topic that particularly interests you.

Our approach to learning, teaching and assessment links academic knowledge with real-world examples and practices in sport, exercise and physical activity. This is brought further to life in the Human Performance Laboratory, which is equipped with the latest in exercise physiology and exercise nutrition equipment. 

Studying Sport and Exercise Sciences you will develop intellectual capacities and personal qualities, while acquiring a broad range of practical, professional and employability skills that can be applied to a range of careers in the sport and leisure sector and beyond. Our students graduate with the skill set to take on challenging roles across the sport and exercise industries.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Critical Skills for Sport and Exercise Sciences develops the essential academic skills required for degree-level study in the sport and exercise sciences, as well as the workplace. You will develop skills in personal effectiveness, verbal and written communication, collaborative working, critical thinking and problem-solving, information and research, numeracy, and digital literacy.

Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology familiarises you with major theories, intervention strategies and methods of data collection used in the field of sport and exercise psychology.

Introduction to Anatomy and Exercise Physiology familiarises you with the basic anatomical and physiological functions of the human body in the context of exercise. The module includes an examination of the cellular, nervous, musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and thermoregulatory systems.

Introduction to Physical Activity, Diet and Health provides you with an introduction to the key theories, debates and issues for physical activity, diet and health in the UK.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Introduction to Sport and Exercise Industries

  • Introduction to Sociology of Sport

Year 2

Core modules:

Contemporary Research in Sport and Exercise Sciences develops conceptual knowledge and understanding of the qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods used in sport and exercise sciences. This includes an understanding of ethics, designing a research study, collecting and analysing data, and developing abilities in statistical analysis.

Advanced Sport and Exercise Physiology increases your understanding of the current methods used to enhance athletic performance in an applied setting. Using a mix of taught and laboratory sessions you will investigate areas such as hydration; the validity and reliability of laboratory and field-based testing; lactate threshold testing; maximal and sub-maximal exercise and power and strength adaptations through training.

Advanced Sport and Exercise Psychology examines the psychological theories behind participation in sport and exercise. You will develop a critical awareness of the strengths and limitations of psychological research and theory, and apply this knowledge and understanding in a real-world context. The module covers stress and resilience; mental health and well-being; and evidence-based interventions in sport and exercise. By the end of the module, you will develop the skills required for effective one-to-one psychological consultations.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Nutrition for Sport and Health
  • Sport, Health and the Environment
  • Sports Development
  • Advanced Sociology of Sport.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement or year abroad)

The Dissertation is a detailed and critical examination of a relevant area of sport and exercise sciences. It develops your ability to plan and manage your own learning and provides you with an opportunity to research a specific topic in greater depth and present your findings and conclusions. The 6,000–8,000-word dissertation, supported by a 750-word critical reflection, is worth one-third of your final-year marks.

Applied Exercise Physiology in Sport and Health applies your previous learning to critically examine the role of exercise and physical activity in a variety of populations, from elite sport performance to clinical populations. You will cover the principles of exercise prescription; the role of exercise and physical activity in the management of health and performance; advanced assessment and support of clinical and athletic performance; and the underpinning physiology of health and performance.

Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology applies your acquired sport and exercise psychology knowledge to complex sport performance and physical activity/health contexts. You will develop a critical understanding of the application of psychological sciences within complex and dynamic, and often politicised, consultancy contexts, such as high-performance sport and other health and exercise settings. Attention is also given to issues of ethical and professional conduct in the practice of sport and exercise psychology. 

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Active Communities Placement
  • Futures in Sport, Exercise and Health
  • Applied Sociology of Sport
  • Physical Activity, Sport and Inequalities.

Additional pathways

Students on the BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences course can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


Learning comprises of lectures, small-group seminars, workshops and laboratory work. Practical lab sessions provide a real 'hands-on' experience of the type of work and testing performed by sport and exercise science professionals. Workshops allow you to develop knowledge and skills through investigating real-life sport and exercise issues and undertaking practical tasks, such as working with different client groups, designing diet plans, and infographic design to promote healthy lifestyles.

Our emphasis on small-group and practical teaching, supported by one-on-one guidance and self-directed learning, is embedded into the learning experience, so you gain more from your studies. 

As you move into your final year, the focus on self-directed learning and independent research increases, particularly around your dissertation project.  

Teaching and learning are centred around the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, a vibrant learning environment, which is home to a lively research community. This innovative research is fed into the curriculum, challenging you intellectually and keeping your learning relevant to the world around you. 


Your degree is assessed through a combination of coursework and practicals, which may include: psychological profiling of sport performers, oral presentations, and reports on physiological testing undertaken in our Human Performance Laboratory.

Methods of assessment vary between modules and have been designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of course material, test critical thinking skills, enhance written and verbal communication skills, and assess your ability to relate your learning to real-world issues within sport and exercise settings.

The final-year dissertation project enables you to undertake in-depth exploration of a specific topic that you are passionate about.

Entry requirements

A level offer – AAB.You do not need to have studied a PE or Sports Studies A level to apply.

Contextual offer – BBB/ABC. You do not need to have studied a PE or Sports Studies A level to apply.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD.

IB Diploma score – 36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome students with other post-16 qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements.
  • We welcome applications from mature students and from candidates with non-standard qualifications. Every application will be considered on its own merits. Lack of formal qualifications need not be an obstacle to entry.
  • For those with non-traditional qualifications who may need further preparation to enter an undergraduate course, Durham University offers a Foundation Programme, which provides a route onto our BA (Hons) Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity degree.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity

We have an excellent graduate employment record. The quality of our degree courses is reinforced by employers who have identified Durham as a World Top 100 source of the most competent, innovative, effective graduates.

Our students progress into a wide range of careers in the field of sport and health and beyond. They have taken up roles in elite sport, sport management and sport development, including management roles in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Others lead development projects for local councils and major charities, and have taken up roles with sporting organisations like Sport England, English Cricket Board and Williams F1. We also have graduates working in media roles with organisations such as Sky Sports, BBC Sport and British Eurosport, as well as in health promotion and clinical settings.

Some graduates have progressed to roles outside of the sporting world, and work in banking and finance, business, management, public relations, human resources and the armed forces.

Sport degrees also act as a springboard to postgraduate study, and a number of our graduates have continued to PGCE or Master’s level study, leading to careers in fields including teaching and physiotherapy.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 93% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 93% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity

Durham University's Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences is a welcoming and vibrant community. We are passionate about the benefits of sport and physical activity for all, from recreational participation through to competitive and high performance sport.

Both the BA and BSc qualifications examine the connections between exercise and issues such as inequality, lifestyle and discrimination. These lines of study, which closely align with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are woven through everything we do from undergraduate through to research level.

Our staff are known around the world for the work they pioneer, using findings from their research to inform the undergraduate curriculum and keep it relevant to the real world. This approach gives you a valuable insight into developments in the sector and the confidence to put your developing knowledge to use in analysing, engaging with and enhancing real-world practices across the sport and exercise industries.

Our courses also offer the flexibility to tailor your study to your interests and career goals. This includes offering a wide range of option modules and the chance to spend a year working in industry or studying abroad. You will also benefit from our commitment to small group learning which enables a more personalised approach and individualised support from staff.



  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Sport and Exercise Sciences pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 100% of our submission was world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 21).


The academic study of sport and exercise is closely linked to sport and exercise in practice. Facilities within the Department include the Human Performance Laboratory which houses a range of exercise and monitoring facilities that analyse our responses to exercise and nutrition.

These facilities, which support researchers, undergraduate students and athletes alike, were built as part of the University's £33m investment in the Sports and Wellbeing Park at Maiden Castle. Alongside these facilities are an indoor cricket hall, a 12-court multi use sports hall, a fitness centre, a high-performance weights room and a range of outdoor sports pitches.


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