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Sport and Leisure Studies

Start your study in July

With two great programmes of study starting in July, The University of Waikato can help set you up for the future.

Talk to us about starting either a Bachelor of Sport and Leisure or a Master of Sport and Leisure Studies or apply online now.

For further information about sport and leisure studies at Waikato, contact the Faculty of Education on 0800 83 22 42, email or check out

Why study sport and leisure?

Sport and leisure activities don't just happen – they require people with knowledge to lead them. Studying Sport and Leisure Studies presents the opportunity to enhance your knowledge, understanding and professional skills relevant to careers in sport, education, health, recreation, fitness and leisure industries.

While studying Sport and Leisure Studies you will look at the way political, cultural, social and economic factors influence their meaning and nature. On the practical side, you will have the chance to get inside sport and leisure organisations to examine their role in society and find out what makes them function. You also have the option of advancing your own practical skills by taking papers in subjects as diverse as adventure, dance and leadership.


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

School subjects required

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

Other subjects that may interest you

Anthropology, Psychology, Public Relations, Teaching, Tourism.

Career Opportunities

  • Events Manager
  • Health Promoter  
  • Outdoor Recreation Co-ordinator  
  • Physical Education or Health Teacher (contingent on further study)  
  • Sport Fitness Co-ordinator
  • Researchers in Sport and Leisure  

Potential Employers

  • Event Management
  • Local Authorities
  • National and Regional Sports Organisations
  • Non-profit Sectors or Trusts
  • Community Health Providers


SPLS101 Social and Cultural Aspects of Sport and Leisure
This foundation and compulsory paper examines the socio-cultural dimension of sport and leisure by providing an introductory and comparative analysis of key social disciplines: sociology, philosophy, psychology and history.

SPLS102 Concepts of Sport and Leisure
In this compulsory paper you will study of the nature and meaning of sport and leisure. This involves an overview of concepts; an examination of current trends, issues and practices; an historical perspective on leisure; and the significance of sport and leisure to the individual and society.

SPLS103 Physical Activity, Fitness and Lifestyle
This compulsory paper is an introduction to the study of physical health, exercise and fitness.

SPLS104 Principles of Human Movement
This compulsory paper introduced you to the biomechanical and skill-related principles and processes of human movement.

SPLS105 Dance, Leisure and Culture
This paper provides practical experience with different styles of dance and an examination of how these are influenced by societal and cultural issues.

SPLS106 Movement: Perspectives and Performance
This paper examines the concepts and principles of movement education and considers how these influence an individual's performance in a range of physical activities. This paper includes a compulsory practical component.

SPLS107 Educating in Movement Settings
This compulsory paper provides an introduction to being an effective educator (teacher, coach, and/or instructor) in a range of movement contexts. This has a compulsory practical component.

TIKA157 Ngā Mahi a Rehia: Leisure Pursuits of the Māori
In this paper you will be introduced to the theoretical and practical components of Māori leisure pursuits as a means of communication and cultural expression in the Māori world.

200 Level and Beyond
200 and 300 level papers include the psychology and sociology of sport and leisure, industry leadership, legal and policy issues, adventure programming, physical activity and disability, instructing, sports marketing, dance, health-related fitness and practical experience in the sport and leisure industry.


Specialisations provide you with another opportunity to shape your qualification to your interests and needs. From 2015 you will be able to opt into a specialisation in your second year. This involves choosing papers within, across and outside the three specialisations outlined below.

Movement Cultures Specialisation

In this specialisation you will develop an understanding of social and cultural aspects of consuming, producing and experiencing sport and leisure in contemporary and historical contexts. You will critically explore movement across a range of settings, considering issues such as; power and politics, identity, gender, race, inclusion, equity and diversity. In addition, you will gain an interdisciplinary understanding of contemporary local and global trends within movement cultures. The Movement cultures specialisation will benefit students in a broad range of career paths requiring problem solving, creativity, critically thinking, communication and reflective processing skills.

Applied Movement Sciences Specialisation

In this specialisation you will critically explore how the application of scientific principles can enhance health/wellbeing, fitness and performance. You will be introduced to an array of disciplines including anatomy, biomechanics, exercise prescription, movement analysis, nutrition, physiology, psychology, and strength conditioning. You will develop skills and knowledge to utilise 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. You will also develop the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a dynamic workspace across a range of movement contexts.

People, Movement and Professional Practices Specialisation

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

Benefits of studying sport and leisure at Waikato

  • Waikato has a national and international reputation built on collaborative and innovative research, which is integrated into our programmes
  • Balance of theory and practice (opportunities for industry placements)
  • Long-term career paths and prospects
  • Opportunity to network - we have strong partnerships with key organisations
  • Diverse programmes eg. dance, adventure and leadership

Other pathways

Considering teaching?

If you are considering a career in teaching, you will need to choose your papers carefully to ensure you gain a knowledge base linked to working in education settings. It is important to take a balance of papers that include those with an outdoors focus, a sociocultural focus and a biophysical focus.

Event management

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

Health communication

The health industry is growing and has significant opportunities for research and jobs in New Zealand and internationally. There is a need, and niche, 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 a series of papers offered by the Waikato Management School.


Erin Cooper, Bachelor of Sport and Leisure Studies


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