Study Sport Science
Human Movement in Australia
Author Professor Kevin Norton University of South Australia
Sport and physical activity play an important role in the lives of most Australians. Over 90% of Australians either participate in sport or are sport spectators. Many writers both in Australia and from overseas have described Australia as the 'sporting nation'. We have also been described as 'the lucky country' and in 'Sports Illustrated' as 'the land inundated with athletes'. Our climate, natural beauty and open space and generally carefree nature all contribute to these descriptions
In response to such strong student and cornrnunity demands for education in sport and physical activity, there are a large number of tertiary courses available.
Human movement is a generic name often given to the study of physical
education, kinesiology, or sport and exercise science. In Australia, there are about 26 universities that offer degree programs in these areas. Programs are usually very flexible, in that they can be tailored to suit special interests such as sports coaching, administration, sociology, physiology and physical education, amongst others. The programs vary in duration, but the basic degree usually runs for three years, although fast-tracking through summer electives may also be possible. Combination degrees are becoming very popular, so that graduate-entry 'add-ons' are appearing for specialist qualifications in teaching, physiotherapy, medicine and rehabilitation. The initial degree is in human movement, and the specialist training then continues in the graduate pro-
gram. Many institutions will specify the focus of their programs, so it is important to do some homework. Several places also offer study majors in outdoor education, often in combination with health and physical education teaching qualifications. Overall, these types of programs
in Australia are of excellent quality, and typically have an applied focus.
Human movement courses begin with foundation studies in basic human
biosciences and social sciences. It is not uncommon for these classes to be run in combination with other health sciences students, for example in nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy. A series of core subjects make up the essential part of the degree, and then the student is free to pick and choose the combination of subjects they want to complete the degree requirements and that best suit their vocational interests. At the Univer-
sity of South Australia, for example, the School of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Studies offers about 20 different elective subjects to its human movement students. These include / streams/ or /pathways/ of studies in sports biochemistry and nutrition, biomechanics, physiology,
information technology and outdoor education. Students may also move out of university to take subjects in business, law, psychology or almost any other elective area in which they are interested.
One of the most popular elective study adopted for other areas of study pathways taken, particularly among international students, is in outdoor education. This presents a great opportunity to study and see many natural wonders of Australia. Subjects taken in outdoor education often require field trips where nature/ survival skills and environmental management are studied. Most often these subjects are recognised by independent/ external bodies who oversee the certification of field skills in bush-walking (trekking), kayaking, rock-climbing and the like. In this way, students have portable qualifications that open up opportunities for employment locally and internationally. This is also the structure in human movement degrees; for example, many programs include internationally recognised and accredited components of their courses and subjects. One area is in the study of anthropometry or the techniques of human measurement, which is standardised and accredited internationally. Another area is in monitoring physical activity patterns in adults or children. Similarly, there are dual qualifications offered to human movement students in fitness instruction and testing, sports
training and rehabilitation, coaching and pre-exercise screening. The good part about these qualifications is that they are almost always 'built-in' to the basic degree structure. In this way, both the degree requirements and the certificate requirements are satisfied concurrently,
with the structure forming a series of small quality control checks along the way. They are important and transportable qualifications in addition to the degree itself, offering possibilities for part-time employment as you study, and for future involvement in longer-term employment or further study.
A relatively large percentage of human movement graduates continue to study at the post-graduate level - a consistent finding throughout the world. Because the foundation studies are generic and quite broad, many students like the opportunity to specialise in one area of human movement. Each university has its own specialist post-graduate programs in human movement, so it is important to pick these carefully. Most programs are research-based, although some coursework masters degrees are available. Australian research in human movement, and particularly in exercise and sport science, is well respected around the world.