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Why Study Physical Education (PE)?

If you love playing sports, have bundles of energy and enjoying learning about movement then studying PE at GCSE, A-level and beyond could be a good career move for you.

Physical education isn't just about sports though. You'll learn a lot about health, well-being and the human body.

'You'll learn a range of skills from studying PE that will help you in your future career'

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What is physical education (PE)?

Physical education, or PE for short is the study of physical movement, safety and health and well-being. There are a wide range of activities associated with PE including sports, dance and weight training. Physical education helps develop and maintain confidence, well-being and social skills that can be more difficult to achieve through other subjects.

These students from Long Rd Sixth Form in Cambridge talk about what A-level PE is like and why they chose it:

What skills will I gain from studying PE?

You'll gain many valuable skills from studying physical education that will help you in other GCSE and A-level subjects as well as your future career. Some of the skills that you will develop include:

Communications skills

Many aspects of PE involves working in teams towards a common goal. Through playing team sports and problem solving with others, you'll develop clear communication skills that will help you in the workplace. Every employer looks for candidates who are able to communicate well verbally and in writing.

School boys running
Physical education is a great way to build your social skills

Social skills

Physical education is a very social subject and can involve a lot of group work. You'll learn how communicate and socialise with people in an effective way. When you start working, you'll encounter people from a range of different backgrounds, each with different personalities. Studying PE will help you learn how to best communicate with people in a team in order to produce the best results.

Analysis and evaluation

At GCSE and A-Level, PE involves analysing your own and others' performance while looking for ways it could be improved. This is a particularly useful skill to have in your career as you'll often have to critique your own work and identify areas for improvement. If you work in management, you'll also benefit from the soft skills that PE teaches and will learn how to deliver messages clearly and effectively.

Physical fitness

As a PE student, you'll also benefit from being physically fit! Not only will this help you in the physical side of the subject itself, but it'll also improve your general well-being. Doing regular exercise is proven to relieve stress and promote good mental health.

What careers can I do with physical education?

Personal trainer

Studying PE can lead to various challenging careers in physical


Physical education lends itself to a range of careers in sports and fitness as well as other industries that you may not have considered before. For example, did you know that many nutritionists, physical therapists and chiropractors have a degree in PE? Some careers that you could consider doing with PE include:

  • Sports science
  • PE teacher
  • Physiotherapist
  • Professional sportsperson
  • Sports coach/consultant
  • Sports policy at local and national level
  • Diet and fitness instructor
  • Personal trainer

What degrees and other qualifications do I need PE for?

If you want to specialise in coaching or teaching a specific sport, then there's a chance that you'll need to have a degree in physical education. If you plan to study Sports Science or Occupational Therapy, then have GCSE and A-level PE will certainly come in useful when applying to university. However, very institution is different and you should check the entry criteria with individual universities when applying for degree programmes.

What subjects go with physical education?

At GCSE and A-level, physics, chemistry and biology go well with physical education and will be particularly useful when applying for jobs and university courses. If your school offers sports science or sports science as well as PE, then these subjects will also impress an employer or university.

Want to pursue an active career? Check out our guide to jobs in sport.

Image credits

Lead image, runners, press-ups via Flickr