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Important notice – campus change This course will move to the Belfast campus in September 2019.  Students will change campus part way through this course. Find out more

To lead, inspire and shape the future of sport.


Study Sport Studies at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

This course allows you to analyse the role which sport plays in society, and consider ways in which sporting opportunities are developed and managed. It fosters the academic and professional skills needed to find employment in the sport and leisure industry. Social science modules (e.g. sociology of sport, politics of sport, sports policy & planning) alongside other modules (e.g. physical education, sports coaching, sports development and management, performance analysis and psychology of sport & exercise) combine to offer you a rich and diverse coverage of the academic study of sport.

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About this course

In this section


Are you interested in sport ! If so this course is for you - Sport Studies examines both the theoreticial and practical application of : Sociology, Politics, Sports Development, Sports Management, Physical Education, Sports Coaching, Performance Analysis and Health and Fitness. Sport continues to play an important and an increasingly recognised role in society. Throughout the UK and beyond, it is viewed as a tool for addressing a range of individual and societal agendas including improving health, building social capital, enhancing community relations and acting as an economic stimulus. Economically, sports related spending in Northern Ireland amounts to £293m per annum or 2.2% of gross domestic product, with the sports industry supporting 13,800 jobs. London 2012 will continue to act as a stimulus to the sports industry in all UK regions, including Northern Ireland. These overarching influnces have a role to play in setting the context for this course. The BSc (Hons) Sport Studies course will provide students with an academically sound tertiary-level education within the area of Sport that allows you to develop your academic and professional potential. It will develop a students’ knowledge and critical understanding of the social sciences within the area of sport. It will provide students with a balance between the development of vocational skills necessary for employment and the knowledge necessary for postgraduate study and lifelong learning. The programme will promote independent as well as group – based study opportunities directed in sport and provide a sound knowledge base in selected disciplines allied to the academic study of sport. All students will be given the opportunity to promote their intellectual qualities, professional and transferable skills that will facilitate learning, employability and engagement with the community.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Diploma in Professional Practice International DPPI

Find out more about placement awards


Full-Time (with slow-tracking option) Slow-tracking only applies to students who are elite athletes and need to alter their mode of attendance due to training and/or competitive opportunities. These students are permitted to take modules up to the value of 40 credits per semester from modules being offered after they have completed level 4 (year 1) as full time students. The requirements for the degree, conditions of progress and regulations remain the same as the full time version of the course. BSc Hons Sport Studies FULL-TIME: Normally three years (six semesters of study) BSc Hons Sport Studies with DPP/DPPI FULL-TIME SANDWICH: Normally four years (6 semesters of study and placement year) BSc Hons Sport Studies with DIAS FULL-TIME: Normally four years (six semesters of study including year of study abroad) Students are expected to attend all classes associated with their programme and be punctual and regular in attendance.

From 2018 this course will be based at the Belfast campus.

Start dates

  • September 2017
How to apply


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Effective Learning and Employability in Sport

Year: 1

This module aims to develop both students? study skills and employability capacities. Self-awareness, IT skills, career planning and transferable skills will all be delivered within this module. Students will also have the opportunity to complete the `Building Your Skills? PDP module through the Career Development Centre which can contribute credit to students achieving the Edge Award.

Sport and Society

Year: 1

This module allows students to develop a social scientific imagination when analysing the relationship between sport and society. It enables students to apply social scientific skills to the real world of sport and to evaluate the role of sport from a detached and evidence-driven perspective.

Sports Policy and Planning

Year: 1

This module will provide students with a clear understanding of how sport is managed, administered and delivered and will underpin teaching in a number of related modules that students will encounter in the second and final year of the programme. It will examine fundamental concepts of sports management, strategic planning and sports development and will highlight the key role of government in the implementation of sports policy.

Sports Practice

Year: 1

Understanding new sports will provide the students, through participation and observation, with the opportunity to acquire and broaden their understanding of and a competence in a range of physical activities.

Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology

Year: 1

Through a series of lectures and tutor-led seminar sessions, students will understand the theoretical and practical importance of sport and exercise psychology to enhancing performance.

Year two

Research Methods

Year: 2

This module is designed to introduce both the practical and conceptual understanding of research methodologies within sport, exercise and leisure research.

Politics of Sport

Year: 2

This module examines the relationship between sport and politics. It begins by defining politics and sport and by characterising the general relationship between them. It proceeds to an examination of the interplay between sport and political ideologies. The module also explores the role of states in decision making about sport and assesses the linkages between sports and a selection of key contemporary social issues.

Sociology of Sport

Year: 2

This module allows students to develop a sociological imagination when analysing the social significance of sport. It enables students to apply sociological theory to sport and to critically evaluate the utility of competing theoretical perspectives on the relationship between sport, society and the individual. The module also assesses how advocates of particular perspectives view and characterise work in paradigms other than their own.

Sports Development and Management

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students with theoretical knowledge of the sports industry as well as case study examples and guest lectures to allow the students to appreciate the management of sports development work in practice.

Sport & Exercise Psychology

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students with a grounding in the theoretical constructs underlying contemporary issues in the domain of sport and exercise psychology. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate competing theoretical accounts of psychological phenomenon. They also gain an understanding of the measurement of different concepts and constructs. ?

Strength And Conditioning

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students with the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities to physically prepare athletes to meet the demands of competitive sport. A special emphasis is placed on the development of the student's practical proficiency.

Motor Learning and Performance

Year: 2

This module is optional

Through a series of lectures and tutor-led practical sessions, students will understand the theoretical and practical importance of motor learning and performance. Students will also develop experience delivering fundamental movement skills programmes.

Applied Coaching Principles

Year: 2

This module is optional

Through a series of lectures, tutor-led and participant led practical sessions students will develop a clear understanding of the essential components of safe and effective coaching methodology and develop competence in planning, implementing and evaluating effective coaching programmes at both participation and developmental level.

Physical Education: Theory and Practice

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module introduces the student to the factors and policies which impact the design and delivery of physical education in schools and theories that underpin effective learning and teaching in key stages 1 and 2. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and apply theory to practice in practical teaching scenarios in seminars, workshops and micro teaches/practicals.

Health and Fitness Instruction

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students with the knowledge and skills to effectively develop and maintain fitness in healthy populations and/or those individuals with medical clearance to exercise.There is an opportunity to attain a recognised Fitness Instructor qualification.

Performance Analysis

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module will provide students with a basic understanding of the concepts underlying notational analysis systems .It will also provide practical skills to help them provide analysis that can be applied to a practical coaching and service provider environment to enhance the coaching process.

Year three

Diploma in Professional Practice (International) (DPP/DPPI)

Year: 3

This module is optional

During the 3rd year, students gain up to 48 weeks (minimum of 130 days) structured work experience in primary/secondary level education, the fitness and leisure industry, in agencies concerned with sport and health, or in relevant research institutions. This placement experience is designed to provide an insight into the world of work, to consolidate knowledge and skills acquired during the first two years and to promote the development or transferable skills.

Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS)

Year: 3

This module is optional

This placement experience is designed to provide experience of an educational and cultural environment outside the UK to promote the development of transferable skills.

Year four

Sport Research and Practice

Year: 4

This module enables students to enhance their theoretical and empirical understanding of the research process as it applies to sport. In so doing, it demonstrates the critical relevance of evidence-based practice to sport.

Elite Athlete

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module will aim to develop student's ability to critically analyse current elite sports and coaching programmes and assess how programmes can be successfully planned implemented and evaluated.

Sports Strategic Management

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module explores the background, principles and practices of the strategic management process, which sports and leisure organisations employ to ensure competitive advantage over their competitors. The module is designed to ensure the students gain the underpinning knowledge and competencies to become potential managers in the fastest growing global industry of the 21st Century.

Sport and Identities

Year: 4

This module is optional

The module explores the relationship between sport and identity formation. The main emphasis is on national identities, race and gender form of identity construction. The module also examines the extent to which processes known collectively as globalisation pose a threat to local identities.

Give Sport a Free Pass?

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module adopts an evidence-based approach to the study of sports development/policy, physical education and the relationship between sport and health. In so doing, it enhances students' critical reasoning skills and prepares them for professional practice in sport and further postgraduate study.

Advanced Sports Development

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module is primarily concerned with investigating the evolution of sports development and examining the many different strands of the profession. The module will also highlight the role of government and key agencies in the formulation of policy and strategies that impact upon the sports development domain and seek to develop key vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

Physical Education: Advanced Policy & Practice

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module will involve students in the critical appraisal of recent educational policy and initiatives and a critical assessment of how the subject area of physical education can respond to such initiatives. Issues that impact the effective delivery of physical education will be critically examined in theory and in practice in both the school and university context.

Applied Sport Psychology and Contemporary Issues

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module provides students with a critical overview of the contemporary topics in applied sport psychology. It also equips them in developing entrepreneurial cognition and innovation in their group tasks. Furthermore, they will develop an understanding of a client-centred approach to consulting in their needs assessment case study.

Applied Performance Analysis

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module will provide students with an in-depth knowledge and the practical skills required to evaluate the impact of performance analysis theories, principles and concepts on sporting performance and how these can be applied to a coaching, teaching and service provider environment.

Sport For Development and Peace

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module allows students to develop a critical understanding of the capacity of sport to contribute to a range of ?development? agendas and peacebuilding. It enables students to apply social scientific theory to sport for development and peace and to critically evaluate the value of competing theoretical perspectives. The module equips students with an understanding of how to become reflective practitioners and/or volunteers in the field of sport for development and peace.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is AAB to include a grade A from one of the following: History, Geography, Psychology, PE, Politics, Sociology, Sport Studies or Sports Science & Leisure Industry.


Overall BTEC award profile DDD (to include a unit grade profile of 11 distinctions) in a sport or science based BTEC.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Overall Irish Leaving Certificate profile of Higher grades A1,A1,A1,B1. Specific subjects required include two A1 Highers in the following: History, Geography, Economics or Religious Education. Plus English and Mathematics grade D at Higher level or grade C at Ordinary level.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall Access profile pass with an average of 70% in each level three module. To include two level three modules from the following: History, Psychology, English, PE, Politics, Sociology, Sport Studies, Geography. NICATS maths (25 credits) or maths 1 and 2 or GCSE grade C maths.

Please note that this is currently under review with UCAS for 2017. Please refer to the Equivalence of Qualifications for indicative requirement.


GCSE Profile to include English Language, Mathematics and a Science at grade C. Essential/Key Skills in Application of Number is not regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Mathematics.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

DipHE/Foundation Degree in Sport & Exercise Fitness (Sports Studies pathway) or Sports Coaching Pass at Commendation (65%) allows advanced entry to Year 2 to be considered.

Applicants should note that, as they will be engaged in 'regulated activity' involving children or vulnerable adults as part of their course, there is a compulsory, legal requirement to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from AccessNI. The cost for this is payable by the applicant and is currently £33. More information on Enhanced Disclosures may be accessed by

In addition to the AccessNI check, all candidates are required to undergo a health screening check undertaken by their own doctor.

HND (sport/science related) entry requirement:

Pass HND with overall Distinction to include 90 distinctions in level 5 credits/units

HNC(sport/science related)entry requirement:

Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 120 distinctions in level 4/5 credits/units

Applicants may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of the different qualifications to the same standard as defined by UCAS (provided subject requirements as noted above are met). Examples of acceptable combinations include:

2 A Levels and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma

OCR National Diploma and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma

2 A Levels and Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma

A Level and BTEC National Diploma

For further information regarding combination offer requirements, please contact Faculty Office staff on T: +44 (0) 28 9036 6098 or E:

Teaching and learning assessment

The practices of the School of Sport around teaching, learning and assessment are directly informed and underpinned by Ulster’s Teaching and Learning Strategy and the Principles of Assessment and Feedback. The Sport Studies programme aims to deliver an appropriately wide range of learning experiences that will enable students to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills in multi-disciplinary and vocational areas of sport, exercise, physical education, sports development, sports coaching, sports management, sports psychology, policy and planning as well as enhancing transferable skills in critical reasoning, interpersonal understanding and verbal and non-verbal communication. To assist in this process all module coordinators keep an attendance register to ensure students are fully engaged in their learning. The primary aim is to encourage students to become competent and conscious learners who can evaluate their own and others’ practices. This is directly aligned to Ulster’s vision to be the leading provider of ‘a professional education for professional life’. To that end, the School’s teaching and learning objectives mirror Ulster’s strategic aims. The Sport Studies programme promotes and fosters creativity and innovation in curriculum design and delivery. Here, creativity includes critically informed approaches to existing ‘problems’ or issues in sports development and coaching or in athletic performance, as well as innovative ways of monitoring, delivering and evaluating practice in these and other sports-related fields. Thus, it has direct relevance for the development and enhancement of professional and vocational practice. This programmes foregrounds the theory-practice nexus in sport, through the progression of scholarship- and research-informed content across all years. The assessment methods employed in the programme are directly underpinned by: 1) the programme team’s awareness of the kinds of knowledge and skills which graduates need in the vocational and professional practice of sport. These are demonstrated through a diverse assessment portfolio ; 2) the University’s Assessment strategy which recommends for students to engage in a range of processes through which to demonstrate their relative intellectual capabilities and aptitudes. This is reflected in the variety and diversity of coursework assessments that students will engage with on the course; 3) the University’s Principles of Assessment and Feedback for Learning. Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework (a generic term to include all non-exam based assessments) and exams, on the basis of the pedagogic position taken by the programme team towards learning. In this case, we believe that exam-based assessments are appropriate in certain situations where this mode of assessment can provide evidence of that learning. Equally, the dissemination of summative exam feedback through one-to-one meetings with students and class overviews of, and reflections on, exam performance also become important as a feed-forward mechanism from level four for more effective exam and study skills strategies. In order to reflect and assess the reality of ‘practicing’ sport, all coursework assessments have been designed with professional, vocational or practical relevance in mind. This ensures that coursework assessments align with the University’s corporate goal of providing a professional education for professional life. Assessment tasks also aim to encourage students to apply their experience and expertise to real-life case studies, scenarios and problems in different sports related contexts.

Exemptions and transferability

While the majority of students on the BSc (Hons) Sport Studies enter Year 1 with GCE ‘A’ levels, BTEC or equivalent, there are opportunities for advanced entry to Year 2 for students who possess the appropriate qualifications (as outlined in the course regulations). Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of an approved programme provided that they shall register as students of Ulster for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level. Exemptions for BSc (Hons) Sport Studies The Dip HE/Foundation Degree in Sport Exercise and Fitness (Sports Studies pathway) completed at one of our partner institutions; allow advanced entry application to year 2 to be considered subject to achieving the initial offer standard which may vary from year to year. This provides an articulation route for the FdSc Sport Exercise & Fitness (Sports Studies).

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Career Destination Statistics indicate a significant number of sports graduates go on to study the PGCE in Physical Education or other postgraduate qualifications both at the University of Ulster and at other institutions in the UK and abroad. A growing number of graduates gain employment in the leisure industry, with a significant proportion of each cohort embarking on careers in areas unrelated to sport. The extensive placement programme allows the course team to remain in touch with the needs of employers. Students completing this degree would be well equipped to undertake a growing number of postgraduate courses in the history, politics or sociology of sport. Opportunities for MPhil/DPhil level studies may be available for those who demonstrate the requisite abilities.

Work placement / study abroad

Sport Studies programme offers students the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Professional Practice or Diploma in Professional Practice (International). This is an optional one-year sandwich placement opportunity offered to all students who successfully complete Year 2. Placement is considered an important component of the professional preparation of students for careers in the areas of Sports Development, Sport and Leisure Management, Sport Science Support and Physical Education. Placement opportunities currently exist in a range of areas in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and further afield, for example: local schools through the Sports Outreach Unit, local authorities, fitness clubs, county boards, national governing bodies, sports teams and private companies. The introduction of a school-based placement has been popular with students hoping to pursue a career as Physical Education teachers. In addition to the work of the placement coordinator and staff team in developing placement opportunities, students are encouraged to actively pursue new placement opportunities each year. The School of Sport also offers all undergraduate honours students the option of studying abroad for a year in their third year (Diploma in International Study). Locations for this are in the USA through the Business Education Initiative. As with the DPP(I) option it is clear that students benefit both academically and in terms of personal and professional development by spending a year in another academic institution. Other work experience opportunities exist within the Outreach Department and within Gymfun. All students from year 1 to final year have the opportunity to participate in these scheme. Modules currently offered within and through the degree programme have worked based aspects connected to the curriculum, with a number of assessments applied to work based scenarios.


Applications to full-time undergraduate degrees at Ulster are made through UCAS.

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2017

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Tuition fees shown are for last years entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to an annual increase. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study. Read our Tuition Fees Payment Policy

Northern Ireland & EU:
England, Scotland & Wales:

Scholarships, awards and prizes

The student with the highest mark within Sport Studies is awarded the Professor Eric Saunders memorial trophy. Past recepients of this award are : Stephen Shannon (2014-2015) who is currently in his first year of his PHD, Rachel Fulton (2013-2014) who has completed a Masters programme in America.

Additional mandatory costs

Additional Cost - Sports Kit, Access NI, Coaching Awards

As part of entry to your course, you will be required to purchase a sport kit. 2015/16 costs were approx £160.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.


Faculty Contact (Karen McCarroll)

T: +44 (0) 28 9036 8983


Course Director:

Shane McCullough

Tel: +44(0) 28 9036 8538



Stephen Shannon - Graduate (2015); I completed an OCR National Diploma in Sport at St.Mary’s CBGS and during this time I began to build up experience in coaching GAA and delivering Physical Education in Primary Schools. I moved forward to study Sport Studies in Jordanstown for four years, including a year’s work placement in Rathmore Grammar School. I am now enrolled on a PhD researching Physical Activity in Primary School Children. Why did I choose Ulster? I made contact with the University and also some current and past students to seek advice and enquire about the Sports Studies course. I made the decision to choose Ulster having found good reports about University life, and knowledge on how the course would allow me to tailor my studies to my interests. How the Sport Studies programme has prepared me for your future career. Studying at Ulster gave me a great blend of experience in applying theory to practice. Particularly, modules including Physical Education and Sports Psychology championed this approach. Moreover, the course promoted and also provided helpful support to students in completing a year’s work placement. You might want to know what support I received at Ulster. (e.g. from lecturers, fellow students, support services, Students’ Union). I found that before, during and after assessments lecturers’ ensured adequate guidance and feedback to foster independent learning. Furthermore, the Sport Outreach Unit were supportive and reassuring in our year’s work placement by providing us with teaching resources and regular contact. Resources within the School of Sport were excellent and I availed a lot of the online teaching resources to access journals, Powerpoints and benefited from the interactive tasks that were set to guide my learning. I found these resources helpful for keeping up to date with modules and also they provided convenient access in that they allowed me to work from the UU library in Belfast and from home. Why I would recommend you study at Ulster and specifcally the Sport Studies degree. The staff at Ulster supported me in achieving academic and work-based qualifications. The course was challenging but also flexible enough to continue to enjoy playing sport and enjoying University life. Resources and facilities were also affordable and comprehensive enough during each step of my journey.