Physical Education

Physical Education

Why choose Physical Education?

It’s fun! It involves practical work and theory in an exciting mix. What other A level subject dominates the media to the extent of Physical Education? Headlines range from “What should be done to tackle the rising levels of obesity?” to whether London 2012 has really provided a lasting sporting legacy for this country. 

Issues on the back pages of newspapers reflect how sport and society mirror each other. In A level Physical Education you’ll develop an informed and scientific understanding of the key issues in sport today. Physical Education is a multidiscipline subject. You will develop the skills of a scientist as well as those of an arts student. You will study areas from biology, psychology, sociology and history. As such, Physical Education makes a fantastic first or fourth subject and combines well with many other subjects. 

There is also the opportunity to further your own sporting performance or involvement, making use of the superb sporting facilities we have to offer. You will also have the opportunity to complete NGB coaching/officiating awards and First Aid for Sport certification (Ideal for students interested in a medical career). The Sport department organises a number of trips and tours both within this country and abroad. In the past few years we have visited a number of major sporting events including Wimbledon, Test matches, Varsity rugby fixtures, Premier League matches and international hockey and netball games (see Enrichment  information for more details). You will also have the opportunity to visit Boston (USA) and enhance your understanding of global sport. 

Physical Education AS or A level will be of particular interest to people who wish to be involved in the exciting and rapidly expanding areas of sport and leisure within today’s society. There are a large number of courses at university, which involve the study of these subjects, for example: Sport and Exercise Science, Management, Sport Science, Human Nutrition and Sports Engineering. University sport-related courses may lead to many diverse careers, e.g. in sports management, teaching, exercise and cardiac physiology and performance analysis (see Bases careers guide However, many of our students have had a fantastic two years of PE but at higher education have studied an unrelated subject. PE, due to the high content of anatomy and physiology, is valuable for medically related courses such as nursing, physiotherapy and medicine.

Entry Requirements

GCSE grade B Physical Education or relevant Diploma at merit level or above or, if not studied, GCSE grade B in Maths or Biology or Chemistry or Physics or in both Science and Additional Science, and GCSE grade B in English Language or Literature.

Awarding Body


Units of Study

AS Level

Physical Education - Unit 1

Participation in sport & recreation (exam)

  • Healthy and active lifestyles (investigates what constitutes a healthy lifestyle including anatomy, physiology, training and fitness).
  • Opportunities and pathways (history of sport and contemporary issues in sport, e.g. deviance and increasing commercialisation of sport). Provision for elite and grassroots sport is also covered. A key focus will be the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Physical Education - Unit 2

The critical sports performer: Includes four pieces of coursework. Personal performance involves you selecting two performance roles from player, official or leader (e.g. coach/ tournament organiser/ roles linked to sports injury or sport psychology) from the same sport or different ones. Therefore you do not need to be assessed on your own practical performance.


A2 Level

Physical Education - Unit 3

Preparation for optimum sports performance (exam) Short- and long-term preparation for elite performance including:

  • Physiological, e.g. energy systems, acclimatisation, fatigue & recovery.
  • Psychological, e.g. ‘choking’ (why do we lose so often on penalty shootouts), how to become mentally tough, how to control aggression.
  • Technical preparation, e.g. use of ergogenic aids, technological advancements in equipment, refining techniques using computer software, e.g. ProZone. Plus a comparative study of elite preparation in other countries, e.g. USA and Australia.

Physical Education - Unit 4

The developing sports performer (coursework) Including an international study, long-term career paths and improving one of the performance roles from Unit 2 Therefore you do not need to be assessed on your own practical performance.