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About us

Dean's Welcome

Douglas Booth

As Dean, I am delighted to welcome you to the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. The School was established in 1948 and, today, is the foremost institution for the study of physical education, exercise science, sport and dance in New Zealand with an enviable international reputation for the high quality of our staff and facilities.

The School offers a broad range of subjects and study options, with the opportunity for research at postgraduate level culminating in a Master's or PhD. Our teaching staff are inspirational teachers with national and international reputations for scholarship, who deliver the latest knowledge, theories and methods in their lectures, tutorials, laboratories and course books.

I wish incoming students well in their endeavours; I know that the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences will help students achieve their personal, intellectual and professional goals.

Best wishes
Douglas Booth BSc(Hons) Melb, MSocSci Natal, PhD Macquarie

History of the School

The School of Physical Education opened in March 1948 with an intake of 30 students studying for a 3-year Diploma in Physical Education. Philip Ashton Smithells (PAS) was appointed first Director of the School in 1947.

By the end of its first decade, the School had an annual intake of between 30 and 40 students. By the end of the 1960’s, the intake had increased to 80 students and had produced some 400 graduates. In 1975 a 4-year Bachelor of Physical Education (BPhEd) degree was introduced. This coincided with the retirement of Professor Philip Smithells after 28 years at the helm. The BPhEd degree had a heavy science orientation and was limited to 15 students. In 1979 a Master of Physical Education (MPhEd) degree was introduced.

In 1983 the School made major changes in the structure of the BPhEd degree to reflect a strengthening of the social sciences. By the end of the 1980’s the annual intake was 120 students.

In 1988 distance teaching courses were added to the School's programme. The Diploma in Sports Studies and the Certificate in Fitness Management attracted approximately 120 students.

In 1992 the annual intake of students reached 200. During this decade, papers in sports coaching and sports management were added to the programme.

A new building with excellent computing, teaching and research equipment was opened at 55 Union Street West in 1994. This world-class building had state-of-the-art biomechanics, exercise physiology and motor control laboratories, as well as the Flume, a unique aquatic and controlled environmental facility.

In the 1990’s four majors were introduced into the BPhEd degree: Exercise and Sport Sciences, Exercise Prescription and Management, Professional Studies, and Sport and Leisure Studies.

In the late 1990’s there were approximately 950 students enrolled in all courses offered by the School including distance teaching courses, undergraduate and honours degrees, a postgraduate Diploma, a Master’s degree and PhD study, with 19 students enrolled.

In 2015 the School changed its name to the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences to better reflect the breadth of the curriculum.

Read the full history of the School