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The Marlborough Science Academy

Physical Education - Key Stage 4 GCSE/Cambridge National Sports Studies

Students who choose to study Physical Education at Key Stage 4 will study either the Pearson Physical Education GCSE course or the OCR Cambridge National Sports Studies course.

We uniquely run a hybrid course in Year 9 whereby we teach elements of both the Edexcel GCSE and Cambridge National in Sport Studies courses. At the end of Year 9, students are guided towards the course that meets their skills and attributes for a further 2 years of study, culminating in a qualification that allows them to follow further studies in the sport and physical education areas.

Year 9

  • Anatomy and Physiology – The skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
  • Practical sports – skill development and game play in Football, Table tennis, Trampolining, Basketball and Athletics.
  • Health, Fitness and Well-being – Participation and sports psychology.


Cambridge National Sports Studies Certificate

Year 10

  • Physical Training
  • Personal Exercise Programme (coursework)
  • Movement Analysis


Year 10

  • Unit 1 – Practical sports development and coaching (coursework)

Year 11

  • Socio-cultural influences
  • Use of data
  • Practical sport preparation for moderation

Year 11

  • Media in sport (coursework)
  • Sociocultural influences in sport (exam)

Physical Education GCSE

The areas covered in the course include:

Component 1

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Movement analysis
  • Physical training
  • Use of data

Component 2

  • Health, fitness and wellbeing
  • Sports psychology
  • Socio-cultural influences
  • Use of data

The course requires students to have motivation and a true interest in a wide range of sports. They need to be able to work well with others, be organised and confident. They should also participate in physical activity by playing for the school in one or more of the extracurricular teams or by playing competitive sport for a club outside of school. There is also an expectation that students are able to play a number of sports. The course has a heavy emphasis on sports science and learning how the body works and moves for sports performance, this will predominantly be delivered through classroom-based activities.

The course enables students to become increasingly physically competent through being actively engaged in a range of physical activities, and to become increasingly effective in their performance in a variety of roles, such as player/participant, leader and official.

It enables students to develop their ability to engage independently and successfully in different types of physical activity, and to develop and maintain their involvement in physical activity as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

The course is assessed through a practical unit worth 40% of the final grade, that is assessed under controlled conditions, and two written examinations worth 60% of the final grade. 

Practical assessments:

  • Task 1: Students must offer three performances from a range of activities; one team sport, one individual sport and the third can be either. The sports have to be from the approved activity list provided by the examination board (30%).
  • Task 2: Students undertake an analysis of performance in a selected physical activity and create a personal exercise programme (10%).


  • A 1 hour 45 minute examination on component 1 - Fitness and Body Systems, worth 36% of the final grade.
  • A 1 hour 15 minute examination on component 2 - Health and Performance, worth 24% of the final grade. 

Cambridge National Sports Studies

The OCR Cambridge National Sports Studies course consists of three units to be completed in two years as follows:

  • R184: Contemporary Issues in Sport - this unit covers a wide variety of factors which affect sport,  from reasons why people participate in sport and the barriers that demographic groups face in regularly participating, to how major sporting events such as the Olympics are bid for and run. A 1-hour written paper is taken at the end of Year 11 in the summer exam window, worth 40% of the final grade. 
  • R185 Performance and leadership in sport - a practical unit in which students will need to perform in two sports; one team-based sport and one individual sport. Students' performance will be assessed not only practically but also through their knowledge of skills and practices and how to improve performance. The unit includes a leadership section in which students will learn how to safely plan and lead a practical session for a small group of younger students. This unit is worth 40% of the final grade. 
  • R186 Sport and the media - this unit is assessed by an examination board set assignment and is worth 20% of the final grade. The unit covers how sport is reported and the different platforms the media use to produce their coverage, as well as the way in which the media can be positive and negative towards sport. 

Upon completion of the course, students will be awarded a level one or two certificate which will be in the pass, merit and distinction grading. A level 2 pass is the equivalent of a grade 4 at GCSE and a level 2 distinction is the equivalent of a grade 8 at GCSE.

Students who study Physical Education can access a number of different career paths, such as professional athlete/ sports person, sports coaching/ leadership, teaching, working in outdoor activities centres, physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation, sports development officer, sporting officials, fitness instructors, sports management and sport psychology. Both courses also provide a pathway into Post 16 study.


Curriculum Implementation 

Click here to view the curriculum implementation overview for GCSE PE and Cambridge National Sports Studies at key stage 4. 

Curriculum Timelines 

Click here to view the curriculum timeline for the GCSE PE course.

Click here to view the curriculum timeline for the Cambridge National Sports Studies course.  

Curriculum Learning Journey 

Click here to view the learning journey for the GCSE PE course.

Click here to view the learning journey for the Cambridge National Sports Studies course.   

Knowledge Organisers 

Click here to view the knowledge organisers for GCSE PE. 

Click here to return to the Physical Education page.