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Sport and Leisure Studies

Sport and leisure is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing industries so the demand for exceptional leaders with expert knowledge and a passion for sport is mounting.

People who work in this industry are committed to improving the physical, social and mental well-being of others. At Waikato, our sport and leisure qualifications give you the tools to excel in this dynamic environment.

We equip our graduates with hands-on learning experiences, practical placements and partnerships that enable them to turn their interest into a career. Whether your passion lies in sport, education, health, recreation, fitness of leisure, our qualifications can be tailored to your interests.

Apply now for July or for further information, contact the Faculty of Education on 0800 832 242, email

Career Opportunities

  • Applied Exercise Scientist
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Events or Sports Manager
  • Outdoor Education Instructor
  • Health, Physical Education or Dance Teacher
  • Researcher in Health, Sport and Human Movement
  • High Performance Manager

School subjects required

There are no specific subjects you need to study at secondary school to study Sport and Leisure Studies at Waikato.

Qualification Options

Our papers cover the many avenues of sport and leisure including sports, outdoor-adventure experiences, health-related fitness, performing arts, coaching, management, community recreation, teaching and aquatic activities.

Sport and Leisure Studies can also be taken as a second major or supporting subject within most undergraduate degrees

Specialisations can be opted into from second year and provide an opportunity to shape your qualification to suit your interests and needs. This involves choosing papers within, across and outside the three specialisations.

Applied Movement Sciences Specialisation
You will explore how scientific principles can enhance health/wellbeing, fitness and performance. Disciplines covered including anatomy, biomechanics, exercise prescription, movement analysis, nutrition, physiology, psychology, and strength conditioning. You will learn how to use scientific principles to inform best practice, examine current practices and explore innovative strategies in the promotion, maintenance and enhancement of physical activity, exercise and sport.

Movement Cultures Specialisation
Students develop an understanding of social and cultural aspects of consuming, producing and experiencing sport and leisure in contemporary and historical contexts. You will explore movement across a range of settings, considering issues such as; power and politics, identity, gender, race, inclusion, equity and diversity. You will also gain an understanding of trends within movement cultures. This specialisation benefits students in a range of careers requiring problem solving, creativity, critically thinking, communication and reflective processing skills.

People, Movement and Professional Practices Specialisation
In this specialisation you will develop the skills relevant to teaching, coaching, leading, volunteering and instructing in diverse movement contexts. You will explore theory and practice from the perspective of movement as educational and you will gain an understanding of the social and cultural significance of movement in community and education settings. Students also develop critical thinking, planning, communication, reflective and contextually relevant skills necessary to contribute to equitable movement opportunities for all.

Considering teaching?
If you are considering a career in teaching, you will need to choose your papers carefully to ensure you gain the skills necessary for working in schools. It is important to take papers that include an outdoors focus, a sociocultural focus and a biophysical focus.

Event management
Students in the Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies programme may also complete the Event Management Specialisation offered by the Waikato Management School.

Health communication
The health industry has significant opportunities for research and jobs. There is a need for health communication specialists. If you are interested in exploring health promotion and communication further there are Sport and Leisure Studies papers which align with papers offered by the Waikato Management School.

Hear from our students

Shannon O'Donnell

For a non-contact sport, netball’s one of the toughest around. Our elite netballers put their bodies on the line week after week, yet there’s not a lot of research relating to the game in the professional era – until now.

Shannon O’Donnell has been awarded a University of Waikato - Kia Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic doctoral scholarship to study performance enhancement and recovery among elite netballers.

Shannon, from Rotorua, was a rep netballer and champion barefoot waterskier - the first barefoot waterskier to be awarded a University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship. She completed a Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies degree with Honours at Waikato before beginning doctoral study in 2015.

The University has strong ties with the Magic, and with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations, there’ll be more opportunities for Waikato students to work closely with New Zealand’s leading netball franchise.


Erin Cooper, Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies


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