While it is ok to not know exactly what you want to pursue after university, there are some degrees you must simply avoid because of their poor job prospects and limited potential for career progression.
Sports science is a degree taught in 100s of universities worldwide and offers graduates the opportunity to learn about how the human body works during exercise and how physical activity encourages good health.
Unfortunately, this knowledge is simply an amalgamation of broad areas of science, often watered down to reduce the course complexity and total content.
What to expect in a sports science degree
In order to gain entry to a sports science degree, most universities will require you to have prior experience in a science, preferably biology or chemistry. The typical A-Level offers are anywhere from AAA to BBC. For Scottish requirements, you ideally need to have As and Bs across the board.
These are relatively high requirements are for those grades, you can enrol yourself on some truly top-notch life sciences courses.
The degrees can be broken down into five main elements. Expect to study these modules in some detail during a sports science degree.
|Anatomy||The study and identification of the structures that make up living things.|
|Physiology||Normal function of living organisms and the influence of the environment on this functioning.|
|Psychology||The mind and body connection in regards to sports.|
|Biomechanics||The science and mechanics of the body’s movement.|
|Exercise Bioenergetics||The flow of energy in a biological system, specifically the conversion of food into useable fuel.|
This broad scope of topics makes the degree seem much more valuable than it actually is.
In actuality, many of these topics are often simplified to make sure graduates aren’t overwhelmed by all the different topics.
In the first year, students should expect to receive broad overviews of the topics mentioned above. They will be introduced to diet and nutrition, human anatomy, coaching, and teaching.
The subsequent years will be spent developing the knowledge of the introductory modules, but also giving students the opportunity to choose their own modules that they want to study more in-depth.
Elective sports science modules can include injury and rehabilitation, nutrition and diet, coaching, and sports psychology.
Teaching is widely delivered via lectures and seminars with this degree. There is plenty of opportunity for interactive group sessions, lab session and practical session, but this is down to the individual universities and their course structure.
Loughborough University, Bath, and Leeds Becketts are amongst some of the top universities for student satisfaction in sports science.
Why sports science is an entirely useless degree
You need more than a degree to get hired
Unfortunately, many degrees simply won’t improve your employability directly after a BSc. Sports Science isn’t any different. That isn’t to say it will never lead to a job! In many cases, graduates of a sports science degree have gone onto do teacher training or internship roles which have led to them getting hired. It’s not impossible to get a job right after the degree, just atypical.
Typically, a graduate must continue onto MSc degrees or teacher training and PGCE certification to find work as a sports scientist.
A minority of graduates go into research, however, the progression into an MSc in Biomedical Engineering is very possible, granted the right combination of engineering modules were studied in undergrad.
This progression into engineering is a potential benefit that the course has over other life science degrees.
The degree works best when combined with extraordinary sporting ability
This degree should typically only be studied by gifted individuals who already have a path into sports regardless of their degree.
This is true especially at Loughborough University where all sports science graduates already have competed in sports to a high level, and simply want to further their knowledge of the inner function of their body.
They use the degree to empower themselves with knowledge which can hopefully improve their sports performance and efficiency.
This degree, however, isn’t geared at the everyday person who is unsure about what degree to study after school. There are numerous life science degrees to study if you are unsure about what to study.
Sports science shouldn’t be an afterthought because often, people who choose to study the degree don’t do it because they need a job, they do it because they want to be a better sportsperson and have accurate and the latest information about how they can improve their performance.
They usually already have a path into high-level sporting competitions, sponsorships, and coaching jobs. Know what you are applying for.
You are outperformed by other graduates
A sports science graduate will never outperform a biology, engineering, or physics major in their respective topics. The degree is intended to provide students with a general overview, and a small insight into a wide scope of topics.
It is in no way intended to produce biomedical researchers, physicists or engineers. Even sports scientists are more likely to have undergraduate degrees in biology, biomedical science, or biomedical engineering than they are to have degrees in sports science.
You won’t be hired based on you studying sports science because there are other graduates with better and more in-depth knowledge about all the things a sports science student may learn about.
You won’t even be hired because of all the different topics you know about because, to an employer, it is more valuable to employ someone with good knowledge of one thing, than someone with questionable knowledge on several things.
You will, however, be hired through your ability to focus down on and become an expert in one aspect of sports science. If you have a fascination with sports psychology, pursue that one subject! In-depth knowledge on one topic is much more valuable to an employer than having bits and pieces of knowledge on engineering, maths, biology, and physics.
The degree is potentially obsolete
Most people who study this degree have some kind of interest in doing a sports-related career later in life. The truth is, for three years of your life, jobs like fitness instructor, teacher or sports coach can be achieved with shorter more relevant degrees.
Internships and apprenticeships are usually the way to go with this field. You will get more hands-on experience and be prepared to go directly into many vocational roles in the field of sports, coaching, or gym centre management.
Other graduates may be fascinated by research and biomedical engineering. To those individuals, you may consider biomedical science, biomedical engineering, or biology to study as a first degree.
The degree doesn’t have a central focus
Sports science degrees aim to do far too much, and in doing so, miss the entire goal of what university degrees are meant to do. Degrees should provide a solid foundation in one body of knowledge and prepare graduates for further study in a subject.
Sport science degrees focus on too many subjects and lack a fundamental goal for graduates. This is why sports science graduates are often left having no use for their degree; because they have little pieces of information about everything, but no real knowledge on 1 specific thing.
The degree itself isn’t difficult per se. Most students have only a handful of lectures in any given week. The broad nature of the course, however, is what students find to be the biggest obstacle to overcome.
The sports science degree is a generally good degree to study if you want a wide overview of subjects concerning the health of the human body during exercise and regular living.
The only condition is you must be an actively competing sportsperson with a pre-existing path into sports, either through having the extraordinary sporting ability, a sponsorship deal, or possibly an internship or job waiting for you after you graduate.
Using the degree on its own to improve your chances of getting a job is a waste of £9000 a year, and a waste of 3 years of your life. Choose life science subjects that actually have defined career paths and better job prospects.
If you are still unsure about which courses to study, consider checking out my short course where I walk you through several life sciences courses and which ones to study in the future!