Sport and exercise science

Whether you want to work with your sporting heroes, with children, or the general public, this subject area offers access to a range of rewarding, active, and hands-on jobs.
With a qualification in sport and exercise science, you may want to work with athletes on sports performance, become a sports coach or teacher, or manage a gym or fitness centre. You might be employed by a professional sports team, a local authority, the NHS, or a private fitness company, among others. You could also work for yourself. Some roles, like coaching and teaching roles or sports psychology, may require further study. Alternatively, you may choose to go into business management or community engagement projects, depending on what inspires you; you could even become a sports broadcaster! On most courses – and certainly on an apprenticeship – you’ll spend time in industry, which will give you networking opportunities and a great insight into where this subject could take you.
The impact you could make
  • Choose further study to become a sport psychologist with your favourite football or sports team
  • Set yourself up as a personal trainer and change people’s lives through fitness
  • Work with a sporting governing body to improve access to sports for all
What you could study
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Sport biomechanics and kinesiology
  • Data description and analysis
  • Biochemistry and cell biology
  • Foundations of sport and exercise psychology
  • Applied studies across sport performance and health

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Chat to a current sport and exercise science student

Chat to a current sport and exercise science student using UniBuddy.

Some conversation starters for you:

  1. Ask which modules they really enjoyed.
  2. Find out how easy it was for them to make friends on their course.
  3. Do they have any tips on your personal statement?
  4. Did they do anything to prep for uni before they went?
  5. Are there books, podcasts or YouTube channels they would recommend?

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Example module
"I loved the Child Development module. It gave us the opportunity to explore creative ways of teaching and support the needs of the pupils as individuals."
Second year sport, PE, and health student at Cardiff Metropolitan University
Example project
"A needs analysis and training programme for an athlete, analysing movement for a specific sport."
Second year sport and exercise science student at Middlesex University

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some sport and exercise science courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. 
Biology or human biology
Maths
Physics
Chemistry
Psychology
Physical education
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Physical education
  • Child protection
  • Risk analysis
  • Lesson planning
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Teaching
  • Management
  • Communication

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying sport and exercise science. The following information is based on a typical sports and leisure management role. 
Available jobs
61,218 vacancies in the past year
5.56% growth over next eight years
Average salary
£29,809
Up to £51,091

Career options

What is a…. Clinical exercise physiologist?

You may not have heard of a clinical exercise physiologist, but they often have a degree in sports science, and work in hospitals or medical settings. They’ll work with patients to assess their needs, and prescribe exercises to help them improve or manage a range of health conditions, including things like long Covid. They may also advise on health and lifestyle interventions. They’ll often work in collaboration with other health professionals, especially within the NHS. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study sport and exercise science at university or as an apprenticeship. 

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees 

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from sport and exercise science applicants. 

A levels
AAB
Scottish Highers
AAABB
Vocational
BTEC DDD
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

Let's talk about... science apprenticeships (Sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University)

Listen to our brand new podcast all about degree apprenticeships in science. Find out about funding, what day-to-day life is like, making friends, and more from our expert panel.

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know: 
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer. 
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer. 
  3. No limits!

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like. 
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies. 
  5. Find out more

    Read our guide to travel, leisure, sport and hospitality apprenticeships. 

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around sport and exercise science with the following.
  1. The Physiological Society  

    Take a look at the The Physiological Society YouTube video explaining what sport and exercise science is, to features on things like the science of cycling or training at altitude, their site will give you lots of insights into your subject area.  

  2. Sport England 

    Sport England aims to give everyone in England the chance to benefit from sport and physical activity. See what initiatives are currently being funded to get children and other people more physically active, and to give you an insight into what areas you might want to work in. 

  3. The High Performance Podcast 

    Whilst not specifically focused on sports science, The High Performance Podcast  podcast interviews people who’ve excelled in their chosen field, and explores how they’ve done that. Guests include England women’s manager Sarina Wiegman and England cricketer Stuart Broad.  

  4. BBC Sport 

    Keep up to date with sports news and what’s happening in the industry and in different sports on BBC Sport . 

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your sport and exercise science journey.
  • Have a look at what the course involves, and write about the aspects that interest you. If the course is more focused on natural sciences, talk about what you like about, for example, the biological aspects of this subject, and why you want to explore it further. If the course is more focused on social sciences, show your passion for those subjects.
  • Reference any relevant news, features, or people you’ve been following that relate to the subject, and explain what areas you want to explore further.
  • Demonstrate your involvement in sport and what you’ve got out of it, whether that’s individual sport, being part of a team, or being a coach or leader. How does what you’ve learned tie in with what you want to do with a sports science qualification?
  • Try and get some work experience in the area you think you want to work in, whether that’s volunteering as a coach, shadowing in a school or youth club, or getting a part-time job at a leisure centre.
  • Talk about yourself, your interpersonal skills, communication skills, and other attributes like time management and negotiation skills, that will benefit you on this course and beyond.

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