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Critical Perspectives in Physical Education

Module titleCritical Perspectives in Physical Education
Module codeESS3109
Academic year2021/2
Module staff


Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The last 20 years have witnessed a rapid expansion in research and knowledge concerning the many factors that influence Physical Education (PE). These include issues such as the context within which PE teachers work; what teachers think about when they are planning and teaching; and the knowledge that is required to teach effectively. More recently, research in the field has begun to provide insights into what PE teachers feel about their role; their lives as teachers; and what pupils themselves feel about the PE they experience in schools.

This module will provide you with an insight into recent research findings related to issues surrounding the teaching and learning of PE in primary and secondary schools, and offers opportunities for you to research, present, discuss and debate current issues such as ‘competition versus cooperation’.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • To enable you to draw together the research and implications of research on topics that inform and develop effective teaching and learning in PE;
  • To provide you with new insights into recent research findings in PE;
  • To help you to identify appropriate areas for future research in the field;
  • To enable you to consolidate and build upon your existing knowledge, skills and experiences in PE so that you can deal with professional situations and exercise sound judgment, personal responsibility and initiative;
  • To support your professional development in the field of PE;
  • To provide you with the knowledge, skills and understandings to analyse, critique and reflect on the relationship between theory, research, policy and practice;
  • To enable you to develop knowledge, understanding, key skills and confidence to plan, implement and communicate educational research to your peers in professional contexts;
  • To provide you with the organisational and transferable skills to extend your professional development and autonomy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. To demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between theory, policy and practice in PE;
  • 2. To demonstrate an evidence-based understanding of PE in schools and its developments.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. To analyse and critique current issues in education
  • 4. To present, discuss and debate current issues in education with the support of empirical research and non-empirical evidence.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. To synthesise and organise ideas to present an argument
  • 6. To take responsibility for your own learning
  • 7. To critically evaluate and present an argument in writing and orally

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This module includes a critical consideration of critical perspectives in PE in primary and secondary schools. A range of views will be discussed from different perspectives and an interdisciplinary and interconnected approach will be followed throughout. Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

1. Issues surrounding the role and educational value of PE:

  • Opportunities and challenges surrounding the National Curriculum for PE (1988 – present day);
  • Bridging the gap between physical activity/PE and academic attainment;
  • Making connections between PE and other subjects within the National Curriculum (e.g. Maths, Science & Modern Foreign Languages).

2. Issues surrounding the teaching and learning of PE:

  • ‘It’s not the winning but taking part that counts isn’t it?’ Competition versus cooperation;
  • The warm-up and cool-down phases of PE lessons: Are they becoming a ‘road less travelled?’;
  • ‘Skills-based/teacher-centred’ versus ‘Activity-based/pupil-centred’ approach/model to teaching PE: Problems and prospects.

3. Issues surrounding learners in PE:

  • Should all pupils be included in PE lessons?
  • How do you challenge the ‘more able’ and support ‘less able’ learners?
  • How do you involve disengaged or reluctant learners?

4. Issues surrounding teachers of PE:

  • Who is best placed to teach PE in primary schools? Generalist classroom teachers? External sports coaches? PE specialist teachers?
  • (b) Towards an understanding of subject knowledge in PE;
  • (c) Teachers as researchers.

5. Future directions in PE:

  • PE as a ‘core’ subject in the National Curriculum in England;

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching16.5Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching16.5Seminars
Guided independent study28Recommended reading related to lecture content
Guided independent study39Seminar preparation
Guided independent study50Individual presentation research and preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Feedback on seminar presentations/debates etcVariable1-7Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written assignment on a critical perspective or issue in PE602000 words1-7Written feedback
Individual oral presentation on a critical perspective or issue in PE (NB same issue as for the assignment, above) 4010 minute individual oral presentation with 5 minutes for questions from the module leader1-7Written feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written assignment on a critical perspective or issue in PE2000 words1-7August-September assessment period
Individual oral presentation10 minute individual oral presentation with 5 minutes for questions (face-to-face oral presentations1-7August-September assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to complete a further assignment and present a further oral presentation. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

The majority of reading for this module will be research papers specified at lectures for students to read around lecture content and to prepare for seminars. Students are also expected to seek out literature themselves, thus, providing an opportunity for them to read what they find most interesting about the module/lecture content, on which they will have the opportunity to be assessed on due to the freedom provided by the assessments.

The following textbooks, however, will provide useful research to learn, catch-up or consolidate PE knowledge that may be required as you move through the module.

  • Capel, S. and Piotwoski, S. (2000) Issues in physical education. London: Routledge.
  • Capel, S. and Whitehead, M. (2015) Learning to teach physical education in the secondary school. London: Routledge.
  • Capel, S. and Lawrence, J. (2018) Mentoring physical education teachers in the secondary school: A practical guide. London: Routledge.
  • Hardy, C.A. and Mawer, M. (1999) Learning and teaching in physical education. London: Falmer.
  • Mawer, M. (1995) The Effective Teaching of Physical Education. London: Longman.
  • Pope, D. (2019) Understanding subject knowledge in primary teaching. London: Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Physical education, teachers, learners, teaching, learning, primary schools, secondary schools

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

ESS2704 Learning and Teaching in Physical Education

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date