What you will study
This is a highly interactive online course that focuses on the physical science that underlies sport. You will study the course using a combination of online text, video clips, animations of sporting phenomena and a series of interactive computer activities that focus on specific scientific topics.
A central theme of the course is the concept of force, which is one of the most fundamental factors that affect sporting action. You will learn about the force of gravity, how this affects the motion of athletes in jumping and diving events, and how it affects the motion of balls in sports such as tennis and volleyball. You will learn about the basic nature of air and water, and how this leads to drag forces due to air and water resistance in swimming and diving. You will learn about frictional forces, and the effect that these forces have on performance in track sprinting and speed skating. Finally, you will see how the way that athletes move during sport and their overall performance depends not on any individual force but on the combination of many different forces.
Another theme of the course is the role of technology in modern sport. You will learn about the nature of materials such as carbon-fibre, and the effect that such materials have had on sports such as cycling and wheelchair racing. You will see how a better understanding of the human body has led to the development of specialised sporting drinks, training regimes and even specialised drugs that can influence sporting performance.
The course also introduces the quantities that athletes and coaches use to evaluate performance. You will learn about the concepts of speed, velocity and acceleration, and see how measurement of these quantities enables improvements in many sports, including the way that sprinters move away from the starting blocks and swimmers move though the water.
By the end of the course you’ll have developed a greater awareness of the role of science and technology in sport, and a greater understanding of the fundamental scientific concepts that underpin many Olympic events. You’ll also develop a range of study skills associated with finding, interpreting and communicating scientific information. You will develop graphical skills that enable you to plot and interpret scientific data and a special emphasis is placed on developing skills related to finding, evaluating and summarising scientific information on the internet.
By the end of this course you should be able to:
Demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, language, concepts and principles relating to the study of physical sciences in the context of sport, in particular:
- forces, and their role in determining performance in sport
- quantities such as distance, speed and acceleration that are used to analyse performance in sport
- the properties of gases and liquids, and the effect of air and water resistance in sport
- chemical notation and its application in the analysis of chemical reactions
- the science behind new technologies, and their impact on sport.
This course will require 80–100 hours of your time in total, which can be spread over at least 6 months. Register online today and start tomorrow – no need to wait!
The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in distance learning:
- The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the protected course website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
- The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
- An online interactive quiz that you can attempt as many times as you wish to help you test your own learning.
- A statement of participation from the OU which you can use this to demonstrate your engagement with the course. (N.B. The course does not carry academic credit points.)
Some of the pages within the course contain links to external sites. Accessing these sites is part of the allocated study time for the course. You may also wish to undertake additional background study or reading if some of the concepts introduced are completely unfamiliar to you.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, library, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.