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Physical Education

A level

Physical Education at A level is a demanding and academically challenging subject with a significant amount of sport and exercise science content. It is ideal preparation for those who may be considering studying courses such as Physical Education teaching, Physiotherapy, Sport Psychology or Dietetics. You will gain an insight into how the body and mind work together to influence sports performance, both positively and negatively. You will be required to demonstrate and apply knowledge of factors underpinning involvement in physical activity and sport, and analyse and evaluate those factors in sports performance. There is also an opportunity for you to perform or coach in one chosen sport and to link that performance to a written project of about 3500 words.

Course content

The course consists of three components.

Component 1 introduces the theory behind five areas.

Component 2 builds on the theory, with an emphasis on the how these areas are integrated to apply to performance.

The five areas of study are: 

  1. Exercise physiology, training and performance

You will undertake physical fitness testing and participate in micro-sessions of weight training, Fartlek training and HIT (High Intensity Training). The physiological adaptations to training and the energy systems used will be examined in detail. The role of nutrition in optimising performance and recovery will also be studied.

  1. Movement analysis, technology and biomechanics

How do joints and muscles work together to create sporting movements? How do the muscle fibre types of Usain Bolt and Paula Radcliffe differ? How does the work of Sir Isaac Newton link closely to sports performance? Technology in Sport – good or evil? These are some of the questions you will examine in this area. 

  1. Sport psychology

‘Elite sport is 90% psychological and 10% physiological.’ Is there a personality type that is successful in sport? How can stress, arousal and anxiety be controlled to optimise sports performance? How can psychology create team cohesion?

  1. Skill acquisition 

How do sportspeople become skilful? You will study the key theories of learning and how different methods of practice and guidance can help to develop the sub-routines and motor programmes that develop skills.

  1. Sport and society

Sport reflects society. You will examine the role of sport within society and compare the culture of sport in the 19th century with that of the 21st century. Deviance, doping and discrimination are all studied through case studies in a range of popular sports.

The assessments for Components 1 and 2 are by examination at the end of Year 2, each carrying 105 marks.

Component 3 

Component 3 is a practical component where you will perform as a player or a coach in one chosen sport available from a list of activities supplied by the examination board.

Your work on your chosen sport will be supported by a written assignment of approximately 3,500 words in which you will investigate and research methods to improve physical or technical aspects of your practical performance. 

The assessment for Component 3 is 50% performance and 50% written analysis, with a total of 90 marks available.

Is it for me?

This course will be ideal for you if you have a strong interest in sport and the theory of sport. It will help you to understand and apply theoretical work to improve your own sporting performance. 

You will also enjoy Physical Education if you:

  • are keen to increase your levels of skill and fitness in a variety of sports;
  • would like to explore the physical, psychological and social aspects of physical education, health and performance.

Entry requirements

At least 7 GCSEs at Grade 4 in a range of subjects including Maths and English. A Grade 4 or equivalent is required in a Science GCSE with a high level of Biology content. A Grade 4 in Physical Education is required if taken or a Merit if taking a BTEC Level 2 Sport course.

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