Sports, exercise and health science updates

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This page contains the latest updates on the Diploma Programme (DP) sports, exercise and health science course.

The new DP sports, exercise, and health science (SEHS) course will be launched in February 2024 for first teaching in August 2024. First assessment will take place in May 2026.

Below you will find an overview of the course updates. For a technical breakdown of the DP curriculum and assessment methods for this course, read the sports, exercise and health sciences subject brief (SL & HL).

Overview of the new course

A relevant and effective science education needs to reflect societal change with a greater focus on skills and the interconnectedness of concepts, contexts and content, and to facilitate deep learning and student understanding. Developments have taken place to address these needs.

The SEHS curriculum explores three themes:

  • exercise physiology and nutrition of the human body
  • biomechanics
  • sports psychology and motor learning.

Through these, SEHS students will develop long-enduring knowledge and understanding of the science at play in human physiology, biomechanics and psychology. The study of their interconnections will provide students opportunities to explore different perspectives and conceptual frameworks.


Conceptual learning

The updated SEHS course follows rigorous science content and highlights concepts that underpin learning. The course aims to develop understandings that connect factual, procedural and metacognitive knowledge and recognizes the importance of connecting learning with concepts. This includes a non-linear, ongoing process of adding new knowledge, evolving understandings and identifying misconceptions.

Conceptual understanding will enable students to be aware and critical of their own knowledge, and to transfer and apply skills and understandings to new or different contexts in creative, generative, autonomous and dynamic ways.

The syllabus structure has been re-imagined, incorporating subject-specific concepts within a framework that enables teachers to create their own pathway for the two-year programme.

Greater emphasis on skill development

The practical nature of the subject is emphasized through the ‘Skills in the study of sports, exercise, and health science’ section in the guide. These are framed by the approaches to learning (ATL) skills and categorized into different aspects, including inquiry skills and techniques appropriate at this level of study.

DP sciences graphic

Nature of science

Nature of science (NOS) is an overarching theme in the DP biology, chemistry, physics and SEHS courses that explores conceptual understandings related to the purpose, features and impact of scientific knowledge. DP SEHS students will have the opportunity to analyze, discuss, challenge and refine their understanding of the scientific ideas and concepts encountered during the course. An understanding of NOS is valuable on several levels:

  • it develops scientific literacy
  • it provides a framework in which students can more easily access the chemistry course content
  • it supports student learning.

Experimental programme

Practical work

Practical work continues to be a central aspect of the DP SEHS course. Teachers are encouraged to develop their own practical scheme of work that allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the subject content and associated concepts and that provides opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. The practical scheme of work should be broad and balanced to provide students with the opportunity to experience a wide range of tasks, from closed to open inquiry, and from hands-on experimentation through to the use of simulations and modelling, incorporating technology where appropriate.

Collaborative sciences project

The collaborative sciences project is an interdisciplinary sciences project that addresses real-world problems that can be explored through the range of subjects in the sciences group.

Through this project students will:

  • integrate factual, procedural and conceptual knowledge developed through the study of their science discipline(s)
  • apply their collective understanding to develop solution-focused strategies that address the issue
  • develop an understanding of how interrelated systems, mechanisms and processes impact a problem
  • evaluate and reflect on the inherent complexity of solving real-world problems
  • develop an understanding of the extent of global interconnectedness between regional, national, and local communities
  • be empowered to become active and engaged citizens of the world
  • gain appreciation of collective action and international cooperation
  • strengthen their ATL skills, including teambuilding, negotiation and leadership.

The collaborative sciences project provides an excellent opportunity for students to work with students taking other DP sciences courses, either in their own school or from other IB World Schools.

Changes to the assessment model

External assessment

All students will sit two external examinations.

Paper 1A includes multiple choice questions on the syllabus and paper 1B includes data analysis questions and provide an opportunity to assess some of the experimental skills and techniques.

Paper 2 includes short-answer and extended-response questions of intertwining skills, concepts and understandings placed into a suitable sports, exercise, and health science context.

Other changes include the removal of the option topics: optimizing physiological performance; psychology of sports; physical activity and health; nutrition for sports, exercise and health. Some content from each of the option topics was incorporated into the course at standard level and higher level.

Internal assessment

The ‘scientific investigation’ (internal assessment) will also see a change, with the opportunity for students to collaborate and support each other within small groups. Where appropriate, students will be able to share similar methodologies, provided that the independent or dependent variable differ, and the data collected is unique to each student.

Students will continue to submit an individual report with a maximum word count of 3,200 words.

The revised criteria will place a greater emphasis on high-order thinking skills with 50% of the marks allocated for Conclusion and Evaluation.