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PHSE553 Issues in Physical Education and Health

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A seminar course on contemporary issues in physical education and health.

Issues around young people's engagement in physical activity and sport and their health status are centre-stage. Some suggest the level of public and professional concern about young people's health and physical well-being is unprecedented. Inevitably schools, and physical and health educators in particular, are drawn into these debates and, in some cases, held responsible for 'sorting out' the health and well-being of the nation's children.
This paper asks you to critically interrogate contemporary issues in physical education and health and to question taken-for-granted and common-sense understandings about both health and physical education. By 'physical education', I am talking about physical education in its broadest sense - not only what happens in the name of physical education in schools, but what goes on in tertiary institutions, in the community, in the media and in your own backyard - that is, all the ways in which 'the physical' is represented as 'educative' in our everyday lives. By 'health', I am referring to not simply the 'absence of disease' or health in the sense of the 'physical', but rather health as a holistic concept (i.e. comprising social, spiritual, cultural, psychological and emotional dimensions as well as the physical).

Paper title Issues in Physical Education and Health
Paper code PHSE553
Subject Physical Education
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,590.98
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,357.07

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54 200-level PHSE points
PHSE 323
Limited to
BPhEd(Hons), PGDipOE, PGDipPE, MDanceSt, MPhEd
Students who have not passed 54 200-level PHSE points may be admitted with approval from the Dean of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.
Suitable for students with an interest in sociological perspectives on health and physical activity
A willingness to reconsider prior knowledge and to critically assess the 'truth' of common-sense understandings about health and physical education is crucial. The capacity to work in a self-directed way, independently and with others, is vital.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Professor Lisette Burrows
Paper Structure
The paper provides an opportunity to:
  • Examine key health and physical education issues of interest to you in their socio-political, cultural, historical and economic contexts
  • Consider the ethical and moral consequences of particular health and/or physical education practices for different groups of people in Aotearoa
  • Critically reflect on your own beliefs about physical education and health
Teaching Arrangements
A large component of independent study is required for this paper.
There are no compulsory text books for this class. A reading list will be provided on Blackboard, with regular updates in class (as new knowledge is emerging all the time).
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research, Self-motivation, teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this paper you should have:
  • Had an opportunity to examine at least one issue you feel strongly about or would like to know more about in depth
  • An understanding of the breadth of perspectives that comprise the disciplines and professions of physical education and health education (e.g. sociology, epidemiology, cultural studies, physiology, etc.)
  • Acquired some analytic tools that will help you think critically about your own practice and that of others in the context of physical education and/or health education
  • Understood some of the ethical, political, cultural and moral implications of viewing and practising physical education and health education in particular ways
  • Have read, talked about, listened to, debated and viewed a range of perspectives on contemporary health and physical education issues

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41