Sports History and Culture MA

This online distance learning course will develop your understanding of all aspects of the history of sport, taught by experts from the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, the only centre of its kind in the world.


Our well-established Sports History and Culture distance-learning MA will give you a firm grounding in the development of modern sport, from its traditional forms to present-day practices. This is a flexible and interactive programme that, thanks to its close links with the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC), ensures your learning is at the cutting edge of research in this area. 

You will investigate the origins of modern sport, examine its cultural and global significance, discover how sport can help us understand society and different communities, as well as consider how historians of sport can use primary sources. The scope of the course is global, not only analysing how modern sport spread from its British origins but also how other nations embraced sport within their own cultural contexts. 

The course is set up in such a way as to allow you to personalise your study. Though there are multiple core elements, all students have a choice of module options, select where and when to undertake certain assignments within their chosen study pathway and can customise essays and, especially, dissertation topics to reflect their interests.

In this fully online MA degree, module materials such as written lectures and related reading and tasks are all placed in our Virtual Learning Environment – Learning Zone – at regular intervals. Though course staff will offer broad recommendations on when certain module tasks should be completed, and while there are set assignment deadlines to work towards, students have a great degree of freedom over how they approach and organise their study.

Though it is a distance-learning degree, course staff are easily accessible through video/phone calls and tutorials, email communication and, where practicable, in-person. You will also be invited to attend numerous seminars and conferences, such as those organised by the ICSHC and partnership groups such as the British Society of Sports History and the European Committee for Sports History. These partnerships, coupled with our academic team’s expertise and real-world experience, will provide you with a challenging and rewarding intellectual experience. 

Alongside gaining a deep understanding of the history of sport, you will develop skills in independent research by producing sustained pieces of writing and primary source analysis assignments. As a graduate, you will be ideally placed for a career in sports writing, sport development, management, the media, teaching or to undertake PhD research. 


Talk to our course team

If you would like to find out more about how this course can help you achieve your career ambitions, send a message to our course team [Dr Dave Dee] who would be happy to chat to you. Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate event or call our course enquirers team on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70  / WhatsApp: 0797 0655 800.

Follow us on our International Centre for Sports History and Culture X account and our Facebook.


DMU offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships and bursaries to help you realise your academic ambitions.

International Scholarships

Find out about available scholarships and country specific fee discounts for international students. 


More courses like this:

Management, Law and Humanities of Sport MA
Sport Management MSc

DMU has been shortlisted for the Postgraduate Award in the 2024 Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs), as voted for by students.

  • UK
  • EU/International

Duration: One year full-time. Two years part-time.

Location: Online/distance learning

Start date: September 2024

Fees and funding: 

2024/25 tuition fees for UK students: £9,435 (full-time) per year.

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Location: Online/distance learning

Start date: September 2024

Fees and funding: 

2024/25 tuition fees for EU and international students: £15,800 (full-time) per year

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Entry criteria

Typical entry requirements 

You should have the equivalent or above of a 2:2 UK bachelor’s honours degree in a relevant subject such as history, other humanities-based subjects, sports studies or sociology.  

We welcome applications from a wide sector and all non-standard applications will be carefully considered.


Non-standard applicants will be invited to attend an interview.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 5.5 in each band (or equivalent) when you start the course is essential.

English Language tuition, delivered by our British Council-accredited Centre for English Language Learning, is available both before and throughout the course if you need it.

Structure and assessment


Course modules

Teaching and assessments




The course comprises of four taught modules, plus a 15,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice selected in consultation with your tutor. 

Social and Cultural Themes of Sport
This module examines the development of sport and physical culture in Britain and continental Europe from the 1850s. This includes the emergence of amateurism and the on-going tension between the amateur ethos and the commercialisation of sport as well as the codification, modernisation and globalisation of sporting practices. Particular reference is made to the importance of social divisions, such as class, gender and race.

Sport, Politics and Policy
This module examines the relationship between sport and international politics, and looks at how government public policies have impacted on sport and explores identity politics in sport. The module is based around the history of mega-events such as the Olympic Games and also global sporting institutions like the International Olympic Committee and FIFA. In addition, sport in the Cold War is also examined.

Investigating Sports History: Research Methods
The primary aim of this module is to prepare students for their dissertation. It looks at project planning, research methodologies (including archival research, oral history and the use of various forms of media) and effective writing techniques.

In addition, to help you specialise, you will choose one from the following:

Sport, Writing and History 
The module considers written social and cultural aspects of the representation of sport in Britain and in an international context. The central aim is to promote appreciation of an historical approach to imaginative literature and non-fiction including autobiography, sports journalism and popular writing. This will enable students better to identify and explain long-term changes in the representation of sport and recreation and its transmission to a wide range of readers and audiences. 

Football: Past and Present
This module explores the history of the game, from its origins, and its development from both domestic and international perspectives. It is arranged both thematically and chronologically and includes: the origins of football; the early professionalization and commercialisation of the game; the emergence of international football; football and the media; the football manager; football fans; the modernisation of football and global actors, such as FIFA.

Note: All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.


The Sports History and Culture MA allows you to study at your own pace. Study materials for your coursework are accessed via Learning Zone, DMU's virtual learning environment. For each module there are sets of written lecture materials plus online reading, in addition to the resources available via the DMU Library. Module materials are released to students electronically at regular intervals, and whilst each has its own set of assignments and related deadlines, students are free to work through lecture and reading materials at a pace and at times that suit them.


There are module leaders for each module and they will provide input regarding your coursework. Module leaders will be available each week by video/phone call and email. Alongside set assignments, you are encouraged to suggest your own proposals in preparation for writing essays and, particularly, your dissertation. 

For most modules, there are two types of assessments: a critical analysis assignment and an essay. The length of the essay is 5,000 words; critical analysis assignments are 2,000 words in length. For the module, Investigating Sport: Research Methods, you will write a primary source analysis (3,000 words) and a dissertation plan (3,000 words). Deadlines will be set for each assessment.

Contact hours

This is a distance learning programme. Full-time students are expected to commit 35 hours a week of study to this programme, which will include reading lectures and secondary sources; writing assessments (critical analysis assignments or essays where appropriate for first three modules); engaging with research methods and historiography; undertaking primary source research and writing of dissertation.

We offer a flexible programme of study for part-time students, though we recommend a commitment of at least 15 hours a week to the course.

There is no set timetable for degree modules, meaning study can be conducted at times and in ways that suit the individual student. You can discuss individual study plans and approaches with the Programme Leader and Module Leaders.



The ICSHC has the foremost historians in the field on its staff who publish critically acclaimed books and articles, are editors of leading journals, organise international conferences, and work as consultants for a variety of projects, including the major BBC radio series Sport and the British. Each member of staff is personally involved in the teaching and supervision of MA students and can easily be contacted directly during your studies. The team, and some of their recent publications, include:

  • Dr Dave Dee: Sport and British Jewry: Integration, Ethnicity and Anti-Semitism, 1890-1960
  • Dr Neil CarterThe Football Manager: A History; Medicine, Sport and the Body: A Historical Perspective
  • Dr Heather Dichter: Bidding for the 1968 Olympic Games: International Sport’s Cold War Battle with NATO 
  • Professor Martin PolleyMoving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society since 1945; The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic Heritage 1612–2012
  • Professor Matthew TaylorThe Leaguers: The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900–1939; The Association Game: A History of British Football

Other members of the DMU History team also assist with the degree, mainly as regards supervision and marking of Dissertation projects.


Facilities and features

Library and learning zones

On campus, the main Kimberlin Library offers a space where you can work, study and access a vast range of print materials, with computer stations, laptops, plasma screens and assistive technology also available. 

As well as providing a physical space in which to work, we offer online tools to support your studies, and our extensive online collection of resources accessible from our Library website, e-books, specialised databases and electronic journals and films which can be remotely accessed from anywhere you choose. 

We will support you to confidently use a huge range of learning technologies, including the Virtual Learning Environment, Collaborate Ultra, DMU Replay, MS Teams, Turnitin and more. Alongside this, you can access LinkedIn Learning and learn how to use Microsoft 365, and study support software such as mind mapping and note-taking through our new Digital Student Skills Hub. 

The library staff offer additional support to students, including help with academic writing, research strategies, literature searching, reference management and assistive technology. There is also a ‘Just Ask’ service for help and advice, live LibChat, online workshops, tutorials and drop-ins available from our Learning Services, and weekly library live chat sessions that give you the chance to ask the library teams for help.

More flexible ways to learn

 We offer an equitable and inclusive approach to learning and teaching for all our students. Known as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), our teaching approach has been recognised as sector-leading. UDL means we offer a wide variety of support, facilities and technology to all students, including those with disabilities and specific learning differences.

Our distance-learning MA is innovative in that modules have no set timetable. Whilst there is an overall expectation that module lectures and reading are completed in a timely fashion, and assignments submitted by set deadlines, students are free to study towards the degree at times that suit them.

Campus Centre

The home of  De Montfort Students' Union, (DSU) our Campus Centre offers a welcoming and lively hub for student life. Conveniently located at the heart of campus, it includes a convenience store, a Subway and a Starbucks. Here you can find the DSU-owned charitable accommodation service Sulets and DSU’s shop, SUpplies, selling art supplies, stationery and clothing, and printing and binding services. The building is also home to the DSU officer team. 


Opportunities and careers

Find the people who will open doors for you

DMU's award-winning careers service provides guaranteed work experience opportunities DMU Careers Team

DMU Global

This is our innovative international experience programme which aims to enrich your studies and expand your cultural horizons – helping you to become a global graduate, equipped to meet the needs of employers across the world.

Through DMU Global, we offer a wide range of opportunities including on-campus and UK activities, overseas study, internships, faculty-led field trips and volunteering, as well as Erasmus+ and international exchanges.


Graduate careers

Many of our students have used their studies to develop careers in sports writing, sport development, management, the media and teaching.

Graduate Katie – now working as an academic - said: “The MA strengthened my passion for research, and the support from the staff within the ICSHC gave me confidence in my ability to conduct this level of work. My MA dissertation work on the history of women playing American football demonstrated that there was an unknown history waiting to be discovered.”

“The opportunity to attend conferences and events has allowed me to network with other sports historians and expand my knowledge in different areas of sports history. The support and advice I have received from the tutors, who are experts in their field, has been invaluable.”

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