University of Chester

Programme Specification
Sociology of Sport and Exercise MSc
2016 - 2017

Master of Science

Sociology of Sport and Exercise

Sociology of Sport and Exercise

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year (full-time) or 2 years part-time

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Sport and Exercise Sciences

No such definitive postgraduate subject benchmarks exist. The programme has been aligned with the undergraduate benchmark statements for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (Sports Studies section) and Sociology and the QAA framework for higher education qualification Level 7 benchmarks.


MSc in Sociology of Sport and Exercise

Saturday 1st January 2011

The broad aims of the programme are as follows:

  • to enable students to develop further a range of cognitive skills and abilities through a coherent and specialist sociological education;
  • to enable students to develop a range of discipline-specific abilities and apply them to selected areas of special academic and vocational interest for more advanced study of the Sociology of Sport and Exercise;
  • to provide opportunities for students to enhance their abilities in a range of transferable skills;
  • to enable students to acquire and apply a corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge to the study of sport and exercise.

The learning outcomes for each module show clearly the requirements for all students undertaking the programme, having regard for the range of programme content and the expected level of achievement commensurate with standard benchmarks and the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualification Level 7 benchmarks. The teaching, learning and assessment strategies for the programme are designed to facilitate the student to gain knowledge and develop a sound understanding of all theoretical and/or empirical components and, importantly, to apply their knowledge in order to understand sport in society.
At the general level, the Learning Outcomes for the Programme are as follows: By the end of the programme students should be able to:

  • understand and discriminate between key theoretical perspectives and their associated concepts in the sociology of sport and exercise and assess the merits of competing explanations;
  • provide a critical awareness of processes of social change in sport and exercise;
  • critically understand the nature of social diversity and inequality in and through sport and exercise;
  • critically understand the complex relationships between people and groups of people within and between sporting institutions, and between sport, exercise and the wider society;
  • rigorously evaluate evidence and understand the relationship between values, evidence and sociological argument in the study of sport and exercise;
  • to formulate sociologically informed questions for researching sport and exercise;
  • understand and discriminate between research strategies and methods for acquiring sociological knowledge of sport and exercise;
  • critically understand the importance of historical and comparative studies and their application in the study of sport;
  • acquire the capacity to undertake sociological research into sport and exercise;
  • understand the distinctive character of sociology in relation to other forms of understanding sport and exercise;
  • gather, organise and synthesise sociological information in a coherent, reasoned argument;
  • communicate effectively in oral presentations in seminars and in written form.

Students' progression in knowledge and understanding is thus demonstrated through the learning outcomes, the variety of assessment strategies and Level 7 related assessment marking criteria. Knowledge is developed in all core modules such that students will be expected to develop a critical understanding. The structure of the programme is designed in such a way that students’ critical awareness will develop incrementally with modules studied.

Throughout the programme, a variety of different teaching methods are utilised to ensure that intellectual, cognitive and vocational skills are developed at all stages, as evidence in the module aims and learning outcomes. Students are required to engage, in an appropriately critical way, with current published research and to analyse this material commensurate with the QAA guidelines. Seminars, presentations, workshops and group work enable students to develop a critical awareness and appreciation of how research informs everyday interaction and practice, and vice versa.

The design of the programme ensures that theory and research are linked to the necessary skills of the sociologist of sport. The practical vocational and/or transferable skills associated with each module, and with the programme more generally, have been mapped to the relevant Subject Benchmark guidelines to indicate where students can begin to develop particular competencies for further study, career promotion and/or career change.

Information Technology: Students' IT skills, developed throughout each module, should be such that they are enabled to access the University Intranet, bibliographical databases and the Internet for academic and vocational-oriented research and commentaries, use the library effectively and perform literature searches and reviews. Their existing skills will be enhanced in the programme and library inductions held at the outset of the programme. The facilities of the wider University are also open to the student in the form of study skills sessions and Learning Support. Students' IT skills will normally be evidenced in the production of word-based assignments, the use of PowerPoint in assessed and non-assessed presentations, and in the use of Excel and SPSS for data analysis.
Improving Own Learning and Performance: The programme is designed, in its entirety, to facilitate students' personal and professional development. This is evidenced via the assessment strategy. Students will engage with this in all modules, however the Programme is designed such that students should develop greater skills with regard to their own self-direct learning as the Programme develops, culminating in either the Research Project (SS7210) or Research Dissertation (SS7211).

Working with Others: The student's ability to work with others will be demonstrated in the classroom in group discussions, seminars, and in participation in peer review of non-assessed presentations. Students will engage with this in all modules through the requirement that they present seminars in pairs, or greater numbers.
Problem solving: This will be developed in all modules and will be demonstrated through, for example, the reflective essay for the Theories of Sport and Exercise (SS7200), where students are expected to reflect upon the purpose and relevance of sociological knowledge for understanding everyday interaction in the fields of sport and exercise. The programme ensures that students are also facilitated in the development of this key skill through the research methods/dissertation strand which stands at the heart of the programme. Research skills are introduced in all modules, and developed in Research Methods (SS7203), culminating in the Research Project (SS7210) or the Research Dissertation (SS7211)
Transferable Professional Skills

The programme is designed to facilitate the development of students' key transferable and/or vocational skills commensurate with the University's guidelines, QAA directives and subject benchmarking guidelines.

Effective communication skills will be inherent in all modules and will be assessed (formatively or summatively) throughout the assessment strategy. This will be specifically demonstrated in non-assessed and assessed presentations and seminars. Students will engage with this in all modules.
Application of Numbers: Students accessing the programme will be working at a level which requires them to understand and be proficient in numeracy skills. Examples are the evaluation of results of surveys of sports participation or the generation and analysis of data sets themselves. These skills will be built up throughout the programme, particularly (though not exclusively) in research-based modules. This having been said, this is not something that strictly pertains to this programme, however, students will engage with certain statistical packages, and need to develop basic numeracy skills within Research Methods (SS7203) (LOs 6.6, 6.7), and may build on these skills in Research Project (SS7210) or Research Dissertation (SS7211).

The programme is modular in structure with the complete MSc programme of study consisting of five taught modules each worth 20 credits (four core and one optional) and a research dissertation (which includes a viva-voce) equivalent to four modules. The modules (all are 20 credits except where indicated) are as follows:

Core (to MSc) SS7200: Theories of Sport and Exercise; SS7201: The Emergence and Development of Modern Sport; SS7202: Issues in Contemporary Sport and Exercise; SS7203: Research Methods in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise; SS7211: Research Dissertation in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise (80 credits) 

Optional SS7204: Sociology of Physical Education; SS7205: Sociology of Leisure; SS7206: Sociology of Sport Policy and Development; SS7207: Sociology of Health and Exercise; SS7208: Sociology of Sports Journalism and the Mass Media; SS7209: Sociology of Sports Law; SS7210: Research Project in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise (40 credits).

The programme moves from more highly structured and compulsory modules in the first half of the programme to less teaching intensive modules with an increasing element of optionality in the second half of the teaching year. Modules SS7200, SS7201 and SS7202 will be taught sequentially. Module SS7203 will be taught over the same amount of time. The optional modules (SS7204-7209) will be taught in the second half of the programme alongside the Research Dissertation (SS7211). Students choosing to do the Postgraduate Diploma will work on SS7210 (Research Project), also in the second half of the year. This does not preclude transferring between the two modules should students wish to do so later on during the programme. Although the programme is modular in structure, progression and development are also built into the programme in a clear and coherent way. Earlier modules lay the ground for succeeding modules.

The programme begins with the module on Theories of Sport and Exercise (SS7200) for two reasons. Firstly, many students come to the programme with a limited background in sociology and starting the programme with this module helps to induct them into sociological ways of thinking. Secondly, this emphasises the importance of theory for an understanding of the empirical processes that will be investigated in subsequent modules; in this regard, some understanding of sociological theories of sport and exercise will form a continuing thread running through and underpinning all other modules.

In addition to the module in Theories of Sport and Exercise (SS7200), students will also take the Emergence and Development of Modern Sport (SS7201) and Issues in Contemporary Sport and Exercise (SS7202) in the first and second half of the teaching year, respectively. This is designed to ensure that students should have a growing understanding of sport and exercise, which is both empirically grounded and theoretically informed and which will form a sound basis both for their choice of option (SS7204-7209) and for their work on either the Research Project (SS7210) (for an intermediate exit award) or the Research Dissertation itself (SS7211) for Masters students. Research Methods (SS7203) is an essential preparatory module for a major piece of independent research leading to the writing of the Dissertation (SS7211), which takes place in conjunction with the Research Methods module and is delivered through weekly supervision sessions with tutors. It will also be valuable to students who might not go on to submit a dissertation but want to exit with the Postgraduate Diploma by taking on a smaller, library-based project (SS7210 Research Project). This module is taught over the first half of the year. It will ensure that students have a good grounding in research methods prior to undertaking the research for their dissertation while the fact that research methods is taught from the outset will also help to focus students’ attention from the beginning on the importance of the dissertation as a research project.

The successful completion of the various components of the programme attracts the following number of credits, which will result in the award of the MSc degree: SS7200 (Core) 20 credits; SS7201 (Core) 20 credits; SS7202 (Core) 20 credits; SS7203 (Core) 20 credits; SS7211 (Core) 80 credits; plus ONE from the following (all 20 credits) SS7204 (Option); SS7205 (Option); SS7206 (Option); SS7207 (Option); SS7208 (Option); SS7209 (Option) Total 180 credits

Part-time study Part-time provision involves integration with full-time students in the first year of study. Thus, part-time students complete SS7200, SS7201, SS7202 and one from the series of option modules in their first year. The delivery of the outstanding taught modules (Research Methods SS7203) and the completion of the research dissertation (SS7211) are scheduled for their second year of study. Because the taught modules involve a maximum of 4 hours (on any given day) per week, thus far all part-time students have been able to study for the Masters alongside full-time students in the first year, taking two years to complete over the normal run of events – with certain modules being timetabled for the evenings. Individual and/or group tutorials are arranged with part-time students in the second year of study as a means of delivery to enable them to complete their outstanding assessments.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SS7200 7 Theories of Sport and Exercise 20 Comp
SS7201 7 Emergence and Development of Modern Sport 20 Comp
SS7202 7 Issues in Contemporary Sport and Exercise 20 Comp
SS7203 7 Research Methods in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise 20 Comp
SS7204 7 Sociology of Physical Education 20 Optional
SS7205 7 Sociology of Leisure 20 Optional
SS7206 7 Sociology of Sport Policy and Development 20 Optional
SS7207 7 Sociology of Sport, Health and Exercise 20 Optional
SS7208 7 Sociology of Sports Journalism and Mass Media 20 Optional
SS7209 7 Sociology of Sports Law 20 Optional
SS7210 7 Research Project in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise 40 Optional
SS7211 7 Research Dissertation in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise 80 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate 60 credits (Successful completion of threetaught modules: 20 credits x 3).
Postgraduate Diploma 120 credits (Successful completion of four taught modules (20 credits x 4) and the Research Project (40 credits).
MSc degree180 credits (Successful completion of five taught modules (100 credits) and the Research Dissertation (80 credits). Students who obtain marks of 70 or above in at least 50% of credits will be awarded an MSc with Distinction. Students who obtain marks of 40 or above in modules making a total of 180 credits will be awarded the MSc degree.

The Programme Leader liaises with Postgraduate Admissions regarding the approval of all applicants before making any offers. A typical background for an applicant will be someone who has a first degree (minimum requirement of a lower second class honours classification) in either Sport and Exercise Sciences, Sports Studies or Sociology or related studies, history being one, for example. In exceptional circumstances, for example, international applicants or those with a non-standard application, we will interview selected applicants and/or request the completion of a short piece of written work for their worthiness. The admissions policy for the MSc aligns with the University’s policy on admissions. All applications are considered and approved by the Programme Leader and programme team before decisions are forwarded to Postgraduate Admissions for processing.

This summary section will map the programme as a whole alongside the benchmark statements for ‘Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism’ (Sports Studies sections) and ‘Sociology’ at undergraduate level, and utilise the QAA Level 7 benchmarks as guidelines for Masters benchmarking, where appropriate.  

Sociology Benchmark Statements

Mapped alongside Programme Modules
“Key concepts and theoretical approaches that have been developed and are developing within Sociology” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7200 (See LOs 6.1-6.3)
“An awareness of social context, of the nature of social processes, and of social diversity and inequality” SS7200 (LOs 6.3, 6.6), SS7201 (LOs 6.2, 6.3, 6.4), SS7202 (LO 6.1,), SS7204-SS7209 (LO 6.3)
“An understanding of the value of comparative analysis” SS7201 (LO 6.2), SS7202 (LOs 6.1, 6.2, 6.5), SS7204-SS7209 (LO 6.4)
“An understanding of the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7200 (LOs 6.3-6.6), SS7204-SS7209 (LOs 6.1, 6.3)
“An understanding of the social processes underpinning social change” SS7200 (LOs 6.1, 6.2, 6.4, 6.6), SS7201 (LOs 6.1-6.4), SS7202 (LOs 6.1, 6.5, 6.6), SS7204-SS7209 (LO 6.2)
“An understanding of the nature and appropriate use of diverse research strategies and methods in gaining sociological knowledge” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7203 (LOs 6.1-6.7), SS7210 (LOs 6.1-6.4, 6.6), SS7211 (LOs 6.1-6.8)
“An understanding of the relationship between sociological argument and evidence” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7200 (6.1-6.3, 6.5, 6.6), SS7203 (LOs 6.2-6.5), SS7210 (LO 6.1), SS7211 (LO 6.1-6.8)
“An awareness of the distinctive character of Sociology in relation to other forms of understanding, such as its relation to other disciplines and to everyday explanations” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably SS7204-SS7209 (LOs 6.1, 6.3, 6.4)
Sport Studies Benchmark Statements Mapped alongside Programme Modules
“Display a critical insight into the organisations and structures responsible for sport, and the political ramifications arising from these” SS7202 (LO 6.5), SS7204-SS7209 (LOs 6.1, 6.3, 6.4)
“Employ social, economic and political theory to explain the development and differentiation of sport throughout society” SS7200 (LOs 6.1, 6.3, 6.5, 6.6), SS7201 (LOs 6.1-6.4), SS7202 (LOs 6.1-6.5) SS7204-SS7209 (LO 6.2)
“Demonstrate the application of the social and cultural meanings attached to sport and their impact on participation and regulation” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7200 (LO 6.6), SS7202 (LOs 6.1, 6.5), SS7204-SS7209 (LOs 6.1, 6.3)
General Level 7 Benchmark Statements Mapped alongside Programme Modules
“a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice” Students will engage with this in all modules
“a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7203 (LOs 6.1-6.4, 6.6, 6.7), SS7210 6.1-6.6), and SS7211 (LOs 6.1-6.8)
“originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to develop and interpret knowledge” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7204-SS7209 (LOs 6.3, 6.4)
“conceptual understanding that enables the student: to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses” Students will engage with this in all modules   
“deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences” Students will engage with this in all modules
“demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level” Students will engage with this in all modules, but most notably in SS7203 (LOs 6.1-6.4, 6.6, 6.7), SS7210 6.1-6.6), and SS7211 (LOs 6.1-6.8)
“continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level” Students will engage with this in all modules


Methods of Learning and Teaching

The programme utilises a number of teaching methods, including formal lead lectures, group discussions, assessed presentations, task-led seminars and research workshops, and a viva-voce (for the MSc dissertation). It will, therefore, require students to develop a range of skills including the writing of formal academic essays, reflective essays, oral presentations to staff and fellow students, workshop skills, project work and the skills involved in the researching and writing of the dissertation. Though each of the taught modules will begin with introductory lectures, the teaching and learning methods used in these modules – and, in particular, the emphasis on student presentations and group discussions in seminars – are designed to place particular emphasis on the development of independent learning of the kind that is most appropriate for a Masters programme. Indeed, students and the current External Examiner have commented most favourably on the merits of this experience. Guest lecturers will be engaged, at various times, in order to give students the opportunity to hear at first hand the views of leading academics coming from different perspectives and different societies. Students will also be given the opportunity to question them and to contribute to the debate between the guests and centre staff. Students will be provided with detailed written advice on how to organise and present papers for oral delivery within a seminar situation. Students will be assigned a personal academic mentor and will be required to attend at least 3 individual tutorials before Christmas. This is particularly targeted at the inducting of external applicants onto the programme as well as enabling all students to make the successful transition to the expectations of postgraduate learning. Further tutorials may be arranged at any reasonable time with any of the CCRSS teaching staff. Students are particularly advised to seek extra tutorial support when devising, researching and writing their dissertations. The supervision schedule for the Research Dissertation (SS7211) is designed to ensure that students are given appropriate support and that they are properly prepared to undertake a major piece of independent research. It is anticipated that this will also provide a good grounding for those students wishing to go on to PhD work. This schedule includes at least four formal supervision sessions with CCRSS staff.

Delivery Mode

The pattern of teaching is similar for all modules (with the exception of SS7211 ‘Dissertation’ quadruple module). Modules begin with introductory lectures by CCRSS staff members and visiting professors, following which these modules are structured around student presentations of seminar papers and/or group tasks in the form of workshops, both of which form the basis of subsequent discussions. For the Research Dissertation (SS7211) students will be assigned a supervisor with whom they will work (through supervision sessions) for the duration of their dissertation studies.

Development of autonomy

The programme is designed in such a way that there is a requirement upon students to have greater contact with tutors at the beginning of the academic year. The contact with academic tutors is present throughout the programme and indeed it is usually the case that this contact is maintained regularly in most cases, but the modules in which students will engage in the second half of the programme are designed in order to develop their ability to work more autonomously. That is to say, the balance between lead lectures and student seminars shifts in favour of the latter and students are also expected to take full responsibility for their independent research, under appropriate guidance and supervision.

Assessments are varied throughout the programme, and all students are provided with a copy of the Programme Assessment Grid at the outset of the programme. Theories in Sport and Exercise (SS7200) is assessed by an essay-based critical review (worth 40%, 2,000 words) and an essay (worth 60%, 3,000 words), while the Emergence and Development of Sport and Exercise (SS7201) module is assessed by an essay (worth 100%, 5,000 words) and Research Methods in the Sociology of Sport and Exercise (SS7203) is assessed by an essay (40%) and an assessed presentation (60%). The assessment for Issues in Contemporary Sport and Exercise (SS7202) takes the form of an assessed presentation (5,000 word equivalent), and the Research Dissertation (SS7211) is assessed as an independent project using Level 7 assessment criteria (100%). In certain modules (SS7200, SS7201, and SS7203) the assessment strategy also includes a combination of non-assessed presentations or group discussions in which students are provided with detailed formative feedback. All modules will be marked using the generic postgraduate matrix (Academic Quality and Standards, University of Chester). Module tutors will, where appropriate, and in line with recommendations by AQSS, add addendums to align the generic framework to the specific assessment tasks and learning outcomes, thereby providing students with ‘assessment criteria’ mapped to the generic marking criteria framework. In addition, formative assessment opportunities are afforded to students in every module, including feedback on non-assessed presentations, seminar discussions and individual tutorials where students may discuss their written assignments.

The course will provide students with a number of both generic and subject-specific skills. Key generic skills include the ability to: analyse issues in a relatively detached manner; critically interrogate research findings; identify and define key issues for analysis; identify key bibliographical sources; write clear and systematic literature reviews; plan and execute independent research projects; write clear and succinct reports; deliver clear oral presentations to groups; work independently and collaboratively. Subject-specific skills include the ability to: identify and use key theoretical perspectives in understanding the role of sport and exercise in modern society; identify and analyse the key issues in the development and structure of modern sport; identify and analyse the key problems in modern sport and exercise; identify and analyse the main issues facing practitioners in a variety of sports-related occupations; use this specialist knowledge to plan and execute sports-based research projects. The generic and subject-specific skills identified above mean that graduates from the programme will be well qualified to meet the growing demand for people with specialist qualifications in many areas of sports-related employment. Several years experience of delivery at Chester indicates that graduates are highly sought after in the following areas of employment: continued study at the Ph.D level; research/lecturing in further and higher education; community sports development programmes in local authorities and voluntary organisations; management of sporting/leisure facilities in the private sector; sport and education; administrative/management roles in Sports Councils/governing bodies of sport; sports journalism.

Students are fully supported by a wide range of services both within the Faculty and in the wider University. Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to policies of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. To date, the programme has included a small number of students from non-UK backgrounds, some with particular learning needs, and all of which have been catered for through the Personal Academic Mentor system, under the guidance of the Programme Leader and Student Support and Guidance.

The MSc Sociology of Sport and Exercise course is delivered by the internationally established Centre for Research into Sport and Society, and is one of only a few courses of its kind in the UK. The programme is delivered by nationally and internationally-recognized research active staff whose commitment to research-informed teaching enables students to use the programme to obtain employment in a wide range of sectors. These include: further and higher education in the UK and abroad; full-time funded doctoral research; national and international governing bodies of sport; sport policy and development; research and consultancy; physical education teaching; and the health, fitness and leisure industries. Students will also be able to pursue voluntary placements with local employers in the field to supplement your studies.  


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