Curriculum Overview


The aim of the graduate program in Physical Cultural Studies is to produce the next generation of scholars whose work extends the intellectual project, and indeed boundaries, of PCS.  Thus, we seek to provide students with exposure to a curriculum whose empirical relevance, theoretical sophistication, and methodological rigor encourages them to develop as truly independent and impactful PCS researchers.

Rather than a rigid–and arguably restrictive–core of mandatory courses, we instead offer a purposefully flexible “content” core constituted by a fluid array of courses; the courses offered being dependent on the developmental level of the PCS student body, and the contingencies of the broader (physical) cultural context.  So, whether M.A. or Ph.D. candidates, within their coursework, students will be exposed to (and be expected to be knowledgeable and proficient within) what are considered to be the key content areas within PCS:

Empirical Focus:  PCS is focused on the critical theorizing of the various empirical domains that comprise the broader field of physical culture.  Therefore, in addition to the specificities of one’s research focus, it is important to develop a comprehensive empirical understanding of physical culture.

Theoretical Framework: PCS requires a broad and complex theoretical vocabulary, anchored primarily within classical and contemporary theories of society, culture, the body, and the various dimensions of physical activity.

Method and Design: PCS is primarily anchored within the methodological, ontological, and axiological assumptions of qualitative social and cultural inquiry.  As such, it is fully expected that PCS advocates will become informed exponents of related research methods, including: contextual analysis; social and cultural histor; discourse analysis; ethnography; participant observation; and, personal narrative.

Axiological Standpoint:  PCS is an intellectual project keenly interested in examining the operation of power and power relations, within and through the complex realm of physical culture.  As such, PCS researchers are motivated by, and need to make explicit, the ethical-political values that drive their research interests.

Figure: PCS’ Key Content Areas  


Clearly, all of these content areas cannot be covered in any single course.  In fact, it is fully expected that there will be a degree of crossover, and accumulated learning, across PCS course offerings, and beyond (see the course offerings page).  Moreover, in utilizing this flexible approach, students (in consultation with their advisors) are afforded to the opportunity to develop programs of coursework specific to their individual intellectual needs and research foci.