Physical Education
A level

Physiological factors affecting performance: 

  • Applied anatomy and physiology: examining the skeletal and muscular systems, the cardio-vascular and respiratory systems; how these bodily systems are structured and how they respond to exercise.  You will develop an understanding of how physiological considerations affect an individual’s health participation in physical activity.
  • Exercise physiology: this is the study of the key factors that affect the body’s ability to perform.  You will develop your knowledge and understanding of diet, nutrition and ergogenic aids and their effect on physical activity and performance.  You will also look at different training methods in relation to improving and maintaining performance and the adaptations that occur as a result.
  • Biomechanics: this involves the study of force and its effect on human movement in sports activities.  The ultimate goal of biomechanics is to improve performance by optimising technique, training and equipment and prevent injury.  You will study Newton’s Laws, levers, linear and angular motion, fluid mechanics and projectile motion.

Psychological factors affecting performance: 

  • Skill acquisition: this looks at the principles required to optimise the learning of new, and the development of existing, skills.  You will look at the importance of being able to classify skills in order to select the most suitable approach to learning as well as the underlying factors required for effective performance.
  • Sports psychology: you will develop your knowledge and understanding of the psychological factors that can affect performers.  A focus on both individual aspects and group and team dynamics will be taken.  You will get the opportunity to look at the roles of attribution and motivation to performance as well as leadership and stress management.

Socio-cultural issues in physical activity and sport

  • Sport and society: a look at how sport and physical activity have developed through time and factors that shaped contemporary sport.  Case studies in football, tennis, athletics and cricket will be charted through history.  Alongside this you will look at global sporting events and how they reflect social issues.
  • Contemporary issues in physical activity and sport: examining the ethics involved in sport and deviance that affects sport and sporting behaviour.  Learners will debate the positive and negative impacts of commercialisation and the media on sport as well as the importance and development of modern technology.

Performance in physical education

  • Practical performance: you will be assessed on your practical performance in one activity from the approved activities list.  You will be required to demonstrate your use of tactics and techniques, your ability to observe the rules and conventions under applied conditions.
  • Evaluation and analysis of performance for improvement: you will observe a live performance by a peer and analyse and critically evaluating their performance.

You will experience a wide variety of teaching styles and activities during lessons, for example: undertaking different coaching sessions to suit particular skills; an investigation into the effect of exercise on the heart rate; working in groups to prepare a presentation, for example, on the use of the Olympic Games as a political tool in Berlin 1936.  You will also be expected to carry out both practical/experimental type work as well as essay writing.

This is a new-style linear A level course.  You will NOT be entered for an external AS exam at the end of the first year.  In the second year of the course, you will take external exams that assess content covered in the first and second year.  These exams (along with a practical performance) will determine your A level grade.

The physiological, psychological and social cultural components will be assessed through examination and in total will make up 70% of your final grade.  The exams will be a mixture of short answer and longer answer exam style questions.  The performance will be internally assessed by the College and contributes 30% of your final grade.

Physical education combines well with all subjects.  Popular combinations include biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology and business studies.

Physical education is a recognised entry qualification to higher education.  The course is of particular value for those wishing to pursue a career or degree course in the following areas: sports science or sport studies; leisure studies; sports therapy/physiotherapy; sports coaching; recreation management, public services and, of course, PE teaching.

You can find the prep work for this course at

Exam Board

OCR Learn More

Entry Requirements

  • You should have at least a grade 4 in GCSE English language and GCSE maths.
  • You should have at least a grade 5 in GCSE double award science (or in two of the following; biology, chemistry or physics); and a grade 4 in GCSE PE (if studied).
  • You should also be regularly participating and performing in your chosen practical activity.

Employability Skills

  • Working and communicating with others
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Working independently
  • Initiative
  • Self management skills
  • Evaluating the performance and work of others

Course Resources

1st year

OCR PE for A Level Book 1 - ISBN: 9781471851735, Hodder Education June 2016, RRP: £24.99

2nd year  

OCR PE for A Level Book 2 - ISBN: 9781471851742, Hodder Education August 2016, RRP: £24.99


OCR PE for A level Book 1 eTextbook - ISBN: 9781471878428, Hodder Education 2 year license needed, RRP: £12

OCR PE for A level Book 2 eTextbook - ISBN: 9781471878435, Hodder Education 2 year license needed, RRP: £12


My Revision Notes: OCR A Level PE - ISBN: 9781510405219, Hodder Education October 2017, RRP £16.99


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