Physical Education


Bachelor of Education (Physical Education)*

* This degree is not open to new enrolments in 2017. For those interested in a career as a secondary school Physical Education teacher, UC offers a pathway via the three-year Bachelor of Sport Coaching degree followed by a one-year postgraduate teaching qualification - either the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary) or the Master of Teaching and Learning.

Physical Education student Rose Telea


If you want to be an outstanding PE teacher, then UC can help you achieve that goal. UC’s Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) balances theoretical study, professional study and practical experience.

Physical Education at the University of Canterbury focuses on exercise science (anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, motor learning), socio-cultural studies of movement and sport, and teaching and learning; all of which are applied to movement and teaching contexts. UC’s BEd(Physical Education) allows students to combine hands-on teacher training with the academic study of Physical Education.

Why study Physical Education at UC?

The Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) has built up an international reputation as being an innovative qualification, with high-quality graduates taught by staff who are leaders in the field of physical education.

It is the only secondary teaching qualification in New Zealand which allows students to graduate with the ability to teach three subjects (at no extra cost). Students have the opportunity to engage in academic study of another teaching discipline, such as health, te reo Māori, mathematics, chemistry, English, computer studies, geography (among others) which ultimately helps improve their marketability when looking for employment.

Students may choose UC courses that develop their knowledge of a range of outdoor and recreational sports and activities, such as rock climbing and paddle sports. This makes for not only an interesting and varied course but an exciting and challenging one.

UC students benefit from the resources of the Exercise and Sport Science Centre, which provides support that includes exercise physiology and biomechanics testing.

The study of physical education, biology and English in Year 13 can be beneficial.

Entry requirements

See the Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) for information on entry requirements and the application process.


See all Physical Education courses 

100-level courses

Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) is made up of the following compulsory components in the first year:

  • Professional Studies – teaching and learning skills for all teaching professionals
  • Professional Practice – undertaken in schools throughout New Zealand and overseas, including intermediate, area and secondary schools
  • Physical Education – academic courses in physical education
  • Curriculum Studies – provides curriculum-specific knowledge for physical education, health education, outdoor education and other teaching subjects.

In your first year, you will enrol in 30 points of Education (two of EDUC101 Learning: About Education, EDUC102 Child and Adolescent Development and EDUC103 Education, Culture and Society). You can also take another course towards your 'other teaching subject' (such as health, outdoor education, music, art, biology, etc).

For information on the required and elective courses for the degree see the Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) page.

Outdoor Education

A possible specialisation within this programme is in outdoor and environmental education. Through participation in adventure activities, students will develop an understanding of place, environment and culture. Students will also develop rock climbing, paddle sports, bush and journeying skills with a focus on the related physiological and training knowledge required.

There is an emphasis on practical application of skills, knowledge and research related to each discipline. These courses are open to students throughout UC. A strong interest and willingness to participate and learn through adventure activities is recommended.

200-level and beyond

At 200-level, BEd(Physical Education) students continue with core Curriculum in Action studies as well as exposure to the history and philosophy of the discipline, an introduction to biomechanics and continued courses in leadership and outdoor pursuits where desired.

At 300-level, students move on to exercise and health, movement culture studies, the social context of PE and more advanced curriculum studies.

Core PE and teaching practice studies can be complemented with studies in a secondary area of teaching (eg, biology, maths, English, geography). See the Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) degree structure to see how this can be managed across the four-year programme.

Placement in schools

The degree includes 24 weeks of teaching placements over four years, with the length of placement and responsibility involved increasing at each year level as confidence and expertise grows. These will be undertaken in a variety of settings and age levels, including primary, rural area, and secondary schools covering Years 1 to 13.

Further study

The Bachelor of Education (Physical Education) degree is unique in that it is possible for students to begin postgraduate study in their fourth year by gaining entry into the honours course. Entry is by invitation only, and on completion the course can be contributed towards the Master of Education degree.

Career opportunities

The balance of theoretical study and practical experience (which includes 24 weeks of teaching in schools) prepares students thoroughly and professionally for a teaching career.

As well as gaining a secondary teaching qualification in Physical Education (and health and/or outdoor education), you have the opportunity to specialise in one other teaching subject of your choice (ie, physics, mathematics, geography). This widens the employment and career scope for graduates.

Graduates also gain transferable skills which enable them to work in a range of non-teaching jobs including education management, policy and planning, national and regional sports and recreation organisations, community health organisations, local government, education advisory, sport development and direction, youth work, the health and fitness industry, personal training and sport coaching.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Physical Education.

More information

College of Education
Phone +64 3 369 3333

Ōrakipaoa, Dovedale Avenue - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Education
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand


Mark hamer

Mark Hamer

'Follow what you are passionate about. Overlook what other people say about income and job availability, and follow what drives you...'

Haidee Tiffen

Haidee Tiffen

'New Zealand needs top-quality PE teachers...'