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Sports-related academic studies have evolved from solely producing PE teachers to being a source of serious scientifi c research. Leisure Opportunities fi nds out how the transformation has taken place and what skills you now need to work in sport

A QUESTION OF SPORT

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n the past 20 years, sports courses, particularly those branded as Sports Science (i.e. BSc rather than BA) have

gained more academic credence both within institutions but also within the HE sector. This is not least because research into sports science has grown almost exponentially. The commercialisation of sport and the celebrity status enjoyed by the modern elite athlete has also meant that sport has become a increasingly sexy subject. The popularity of GCSE PE sports and A-level sport studies are direct results of this. According to govern- ment fi gures, sport has become one of the most popular courses at both GCSE and A-Level during the past 20 years. Further up the ladder, employers and

stakeholders increasingly recognise the multidisciplinary training that sports-related courses offer as they often comment that students are trained to problem solve from many different viewpoints and considering different disciplines. As a result, the opportunities for academic research into – and teaching of – sports has increased rapidly. This 'coming of age' of sports science

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as an academic subject means that lecturers and researches in the fi eld are no longer seen as a glorifi ed PE teachers. In fact, sport now attracts some of the top academic talent available. The evidence for this is clear when one looks at the results of the government’s Research Assessment Exercises (RAE). “The sports-related sector within HE has

performed very well in government audits of research productivity and the social impact of this research,” said director of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University (LJM). “Indeed at the last RAE in 2008 (see www.

hefce.ac.uk/research), much of the activity in sports science departments was ranked as internationally recognised. The consequence of success in such audits allied with increasing popularity means that universities have made signifi cant infrastructure investments to really improve the capacity to deliver high quality teaching and research.”

STATE OF PLAY

The UK now boasts a plethora of universities and colleges of higher education which deliver degree qualifi cations. While universi- ties validate their own qualifi cations, and deliver them by right, the qualifi cations at colleges of HE rely on their qualifi cations being validated by universities – usually ones that are geographically close. One of these colleges is Loughborough

College, which has its qualifi cations validated by the Nottingham Trent Univer- sity’s Business School. Dr Angela Edwards, head of sport and

leisure courses at Loughborough College, said that, while the proliferation of sports- related courses has meant that even the most traditional universities offer degrees in sport, the diversity of leisure-related studies means that there is space for everyone. “The higher education landscape in the UK now includes a number of leading universi-

The reality is that teaching is the ‘bread and butter’ of most HE institutions offering sport programmes

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