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Exploring contemporary issues in sport and exercise

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In this engaging module you will explore the research behind a range of contemporary sport and exercise issues. Through critical analysis of the interaction between academic and media sources you will investigate fascinating questions within topics such as nutrition, gender, recovery and youth sport. You will also undertake a detailed investigation on one contemporary issue that you will select from a range of options. This module is suitable for you if you have a broad interest and an inquisitive nature regarding contemporary aspects of sport, or work in the sector. 

What you will study

The module comprises six study topics:

Nutritional recommendations for performance and health: reviewing current debates – This study topic will explore the evidence and arguments relating to two contrasting approaches in sport and exercise nutrition – high fat diets and high carbohydrate diets. A nutrition ‘primer’ is given to those new to this subject.

Inequality in sport: what’s gender got to do with it? – The aim of this study topic is to consider the arguments and power relations that exist in society that marginalise groups who experience various forms of discrimination. This study topic will explore the role gender plays in the manifestation of inequalities that exist in sport.

In this study topic you have the choice to investigate either:
Option A: Beyond rest: the science of recovery. You will investigate the evidence behind a range of commonly used recovery strategies in sport and exercise including cryotherapy, compression garments and sports massage.
Option B: Early specialisation in youth sport: reviewing the evidence. This option will be of general interest but especially if you are working as a youth coach or in a school and explores the debate surrounding early specialisation in one sport versus sampling as a healthy way of progressing in sport.

Choosing your topic and starting your enquiry – After the first three study topics you will begin working on your own independent investigation of a specific contemporary issue, which could focus on a topic such as high-intensity interval training, concussion, nutrition or sleep. This study topic introduces you to a range of contemporary topics and helps you to respond to an intriguing question using academic and media sources.

Preparing for Presentation – This study topic will help you develop your presentation skills in preparation for a one-to-one presentation with your tutor about your independent investigation. The skills you learn will also be useful in a wide range of professional roles in sport and fitness.

Refining and Shaping your enquiry – This final study topic is designed to help you through the process of completing your independent investigation of your chosen topic, which you will submit as your end of module assessment. Whilst this largely involves independent study, you will be supported by activities to keep you on track and online tutorials from subject specialists.

Entry requirements

There are no formal qualification requirements for this module. However, as it is a OU level 3 module it is recommended that you have completed at least one sport and fitness module before embarking on study in this area.

You will be required to read and interpret detailed research articles so your academic skills should reflect these expectations.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access

You’ll also be provided with a printed module reader.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material, feedback on your assignments, and provide you with advice and guidance. Contact with your tutor will be through the following methods: 
  • Online tutorials, which we strongly encourage you to participate in since most students find these extremely useful.
  • Online forum in your tutor group.
  • Personal email or by phone

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E314 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Exploring contemporary issues in sport and exercise starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2023, the last time we expect it to start.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school