A-level PE

Head of Department 

Mr D Smith

Examining Body


Overview of the course

EDEXCEL’s GCE in Physical Education comprises four components and can either be taken as an AS course or a full A-Level (all students will sit the AS year). The course is 70% theory and 30% NEA/practical based.

Course Details 

Component 1: Scientific Principles of Physical Education

  • 40%, written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

Topic 1: Applied anatomy and physiology

Students will understand the anatomical/structural and physiological/functional roles performed in the identified systems of the body. They will understand how the controlled stress of exercise will affect the systems and the way that the effect is measured. The topic will cover how different stresses/types of exercise will bring about both acute responses and chronic adaptations.

The principles of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion – force, centre of mass and stability – will also be covered and are essential to a student’s understanding of how sporting technique and performance can be improved.

Topic 2: Exercise physiology and applied movement analysis

Students will understand the importance of diet and nutrition pre-, during and post-physical activity. They will also study fatigue and recovery. Students will gain an understanding of how to apply knowledge of energy systems and how to train, maintain and improve their performance. This includes an understanding of fitness components, methods of training and physiological adaptations.

Students will also understand how to prevent and rehabilitate from injury. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of movement analysis through the use of examples to include linear motion, angular motion, projectile motion and fluid mechanics.

Component 2: Psychological and Social Principles of Physical Education

  • 30%, written exam: 2 hours

Topic 3: Skill acquisition

Students are required to show an understanding of the nature and development of skills in sport. This understanding could be enhanced and developed through applied practical experiences in the role of either coach and/or performer. Students should have an awareness of the relevant learning theories and how they relate to skill development. At A Level, students will develop a detailed appreciation of the role of memory systems in the acquisition of skill.

Students are expected to be able to relate knowledge of practices, feedback and guidance to practical performance situations. Students should be able to understand how quantitative data can be generated in appropriate areas of skill acquisition and be able to produce and evaluate the meaning of such data.

Topic 4: Sport psychology

Students will have an understanding of the role that sports psychology has in facilitating optimal sporting performance of an individual athlete, sports teams and individuals in the teams. Central to this topic will be the ongoing debate offering explanations between either nature or nurture or the interaction of both.

Students will look at the theories and then apply the different interpretation of each to the different situations and scenarios identified. They will be able to demonstrate both support for, and challenge to, a given theory or perspective and provide sporting examples to support this view.

Topic 5: Sport and society

Students will understand the dynamic relationship between sport and society. They will understand the parallels between societal changes and sport and will utilise this knowledge and understanding to consider historical and contemporary events and trends and     potential future developments.


Students will understand how, as society developed and became increasingly commercial and political, these phenomena were reflected in sport. Students will understand the context of varying ethics, pressures on performers to cheat and consider a range of factors that influence deviance and the response of national and international organisations.

Component 3: Practical performance

  • 15%- non-examined, externally moderated

Students will be required to perform in one physical activity, in the role of either player/performer or coach. They will be required to demonstrate their skills while under pressure, in conditioned practice and a formal/competitive situation. Students must choose and perform one physical activity from the set list.

Component 4: Performance Analysis and Performance Development Programme

  • 15%- non-examined, externally moderated

In the Performance Analysis, in either the role of player/performer or coach, students will investigate two components of a physical activity (one physiological component and either a technical or a tactical component) in order to analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of their own performance. Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of performance analysis in order to produce an evaluation to demonstrate strengths and weaknesses and areas for development of a performance.

Possible Career Paths 

This course supports progression into further and higher education, training or employment, such as sports sciences, recreation and leisure studies, physiotherapy, the armed forces and the civil service.

Possible courses at university that this subject could lead into include:

  • Sports Therapy
  • Sport Management
  • Sport Coaching
  • further study of physical education in higher education (Exercise and Sports Science degrees/Sport Management degree)
  • vocational courses such as the BTEC National in Sport and Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • apprenticeships or other training (strength & conditioning coach, instructor)

employment in a related sector (physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, strength & conditioner, sports therapist, PE teacher, Fitness instructor, management of sports facilities/clubs, sports coach/official, university/college lecturer in sports science, sports biomechanist, sports statistician, sports journalist, sports psychologist, sports analyst, nutritionist).