Dr Claire Hitchings: Accreditation ensures a high level of service for the Olympics and beyond

Executive officer, the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
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The Independent Online

THE LONDON 2012 Olympics is on the horizon and sport science is set to play a key role in supporting British athletes and support staff in preparation for the event. With this in mind, this supplement focuses on high-performance sport, rather than the exercise sciences. To assure the quality of that support, The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) runs an Accreditation Scheme. Professional accreditation ensures that individuals have achieved the appropriate competencies to provide sport and exercise services, and that the level of service is based on the best available knowledge and practice. To be a sport scientist working in a home countries institute of sport (for example, The English Institute of Sport) or on the Government-funded Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, BASES accreditation is required.

Anyone thinking of studying sport and exercise science courses has over 100 to choose from in the UK. It can be a daunting process trying to narrow down your choice to the final six on your UCAS application. As the professional accrediting body in the UK, BASES can help you choose which course suits you best through its Undergraduate Endorsement Scheme (BUES). We award an endorsement to those sport and exercise science courses that provide undergraduates with the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that are essential to enter the profession; this may involve postgraduate study, work in elite sport or in a physical activity and health environment, for example.

The endorsement process ensures that at least 10 per cent of student time is spent in each of the sub-disciplines of biomechanics, physiology and psychology, and that at least half of their total time is spent in these three areas. In addition, the curriculum must include at least 5 per cent of student time devoted to both research methods and to a piece of independent study in the field of sport and exercise science. Practical and laboratory experience is an essential endorsement criteria and undergraduates are required to gain at least 150 hours of this across the three sub-disciplines.

Once studying on a sport and exercise science degree many students are unsure of the careers that they may pursue after graduation. To assist students, BASES has developed an online resource, A Guide to Careers in Sport and Exercise Sciences. The guide covers choosing courses at school and college, choosing undergraduate and postgraduate courses, funding for postgraduate courses, career opportunities in sport and exercise science, profiles for 17 of the most popular careers, advice on how to move up in your career, and guidance on how to find a job in sport and exercise science. The 53-page guide is accessible for free via www.bases.org.uk

Students looking to add something to their experience-base and CVs should attend the BASES Annual Student Conference. The conference is targeted specifically at sport and exercise science students and provides opportunities to present research, share knowledge and good practice, listen to keynote presentations from leaders in the field, socialise and win awards. The 2007 Conference will be held at the University of Chichester on 22-23 May 2007. The two days will comprise oral and poster presentations by students, parallel symposia and parallel workshops covering sport and performance and physical activity for health and highlighting the advances sport and exercise sciences has made over the last two decades. Intertwined with the main scientific programme will be dedicated sessions on careers, with speakers recounting their own experiences in the world of work and providing excellent advice on how to get where you want to be.

BASES (w ww.bases.org.uk) is the UK professional body for all those with an interest in the science of sport and exercise. It is a professional membership association, including practitioners, lecturers, researchers and students.