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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

Do you have a passion for sport and a concern for social issues within sport and exercise? Are you keen to play a part in reducing inequalities, promoting social justice, and improving health and wellbeing through sport, exercise and physical activity? 

On the BA Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity course you will explore a wide range of topics from grassroots to high performance sport, as well as other forms of physical activity. You’ll also investigate some of the connections between sport and physical activity with issues such as discrimination and inequalities, the environment, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity.

The core and optional modules, developed by an academic team involved in leading-edge research, centre on the key academic disciplines of sport sociology, sport policy and sports development. The curriculum offers the flexibility to select modules from other sport and exercise sciences, including: physiology, psychology, physical activity, nutrition and health. These modules have been carefully designed to enhance your research and academic study skills, and the final-year dissertation is an opportunity to engage in deeper investigation of a sport, exercise or physical activity topic that particularly interests you. 

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.

Our approach to learning, teaching and assessment emphasises the application of academic knowledge to real-life examples, practices and professional settings in sport, exercise and physical activity. This enables you to develop your 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 across the sport and exercise industries and beyond. 

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 for 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 Sociology of Sport introduces social issues and sociological enquiry that forms the basis for learning for subsequent years. You will acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of the role of sport in contemporary society and how sport can impact upon people’s lives, including issues of inequality, and how social processes influence the structure and organisation of sport.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Introduction to Sport and Exercise Industries
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Introduction to Anatomy and Exercise Physiology
  • Introduction to Physical Activity, Diet and Health.

Year 2

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 with a contemporary and applied focus. This includes an understanding of ethics, designing a research study, collecting and analysing data, and developing abilities in statistical analysis.

Advanced Sociology of Sport gives insight into key sociological concepts, theories and ideas and their application to sport. It enables you to understand social issues and sociological problems in the context of sport and exercise.

Sports Development looks at the impact of improvements in participation and volunteering, development of systems for elite sport success, and the role of sport in youth development. You will also learn how to recognise and develop some of the skills required to deliver and manage sports development programmes.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Sport, Health and the Environment
  • Nutrition for Sport and Health
  • Advanced Sport and Exercise Psychology.

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 of your choice in greater depth and present your findings and conclusions.

Applied Sociology of Sport provides a critical understanding of sociological and policy concepts and theories to interrogate contemporary social issues, problems, and key debates in sport. You will develop a critical reasoning to comprehend issues such as forms of discrimination, violence, work, fandom, risk, and activism.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Active Communities Placement
  • Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Futures in Sport, Exercise and Health.
  • Physical Activity, Sport and Inequalities
  • Sport Policy in Action

Additional pathways

Students on BA Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity 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 is through lectures, small-group seminars, practical workshops and laboratory work. These sessions allow you to develop knowledge and skills through investigating real-life sport, exercise and physical activity issues and through undertaking practical tasks, such as podcast recording and working with different client groups.

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 the dissertation as you design and implement your own research project under expert supervision.

Teaching and learning are centred around the Department, 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 current and relevant to the world around you. 


You will mostly be assessed through a range of coursework assignments, which may include analysing media and sports policies, and creating infographics and podcasts.

Methods of assessment vary between modules and are 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.

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 degree Durham University offers a Foundation Programme, which provides a route onto our BA (Hons) Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity degree.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

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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