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Science - Sport, the Science Behind the Medals, Short Course

  • Anytime
    Application Deadline
  • 6 months
University rank #501 (WUR) Online
This Science - Sport, the Science Behind the Medals course at The Open University UK investigates a variety of sporting phenomena associated with the Olympic Games – including track and field, swimming, diving, and cycling – and the scientific concepts that athletes need to understand if they are to compete at this elite level.


The Science - Sport, the Science Behind the Medals course at The Open University UK is one of a series of 100-hour flexible online courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It allows you to learn about this topic just for interest and enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to further 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.

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.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date A student can apply at any time for this programme, there is no deadline.
  • Programme intensity Part-time
    • Average part-time duration 6 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

  • 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. 

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

  • The course does not assume any previous scientific background or any specific sporting knowledge and teaches the ideas and skills needed as and when they are required. 
  • All you need is an interest in the relationship between sport and science and the motivation to understand more of the science, and particularly the physics, behind a range of different sports.
  • Mathematically you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers. 
  • The structured teaching will take you to a level at which you are happy to use mathematics as a tool in a range of scientific contexts.

Tuition Fee

  • International

    165 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 165 GBP for the full programme and a duration of 6 months.
  • EU/EEA

    165 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 165 GBP for the full programme and a duration of 6 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.


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