M.A. Olympic Studies

In terms of strategy, teaching on the programme will be student-centred and will privilege the development of student understanding, thinking and skills of critical analysis.

Consequently, the favoured mode of teaching on the programme will be lectures, seminars and workshops. These strategies reflect the aim of the programme to promote the development of transferable skills as well as a commitment to a continuing development of the individual.

The dissertation is a key part of the student’s learning process and facilitates the sustained development and progression of student abilities and skills. Other written assignments will be submitted before the dissertation, enabling students, especially those returning to education, to develop their writing skills and gain feedback on their work, in preparation for the dissertation.

There will be an ongoing monitoring of these learning and teaching strategies to ensure their effectiveness and a commitment to the development of innovative approaches to pedagogy and delivery.

Due to the nature of the programme with its emphasis on participants who are in professional life, the proportion of independent studies is significantly higher than the contact time.   

The on-campus study weeks are spread over two years with 4 terms of study. It consists of six taught modules and the submission of a thesis. The modules are organized on a weekly schedule (6 working days per module). Per term, two single weeks of on-campus studies are compulsory.

The following modules are taught on the programme:

Module 1: Ethics, Values & Olympic Education
  • Start of Module: 1st term, 1st year
  • Responsible University: Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
  • Module leader: Prof. Dr. Norbert Müller
  • Assessments: Group Presentation OR Written Exam (40%) and Essay (60%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5

Pierre de Coubertin’s educational intentions to revive the Olympic Games will be analysed. It will be examined how and why Coubertin aimed at utilising Olympic Sport as a valuable tool to spread moral and social values among the masses. Based on this historical background information emphasis will be given on the further development of the core Olympic values and how their original nature has been influenced and changed by commercialisation, professionalism and political issues connected with the Olympic Movement.

In addition to this, programmes and projects of Olympic Education which have been and still are conducted at the school level and beyond will be critically evaluated. The module will have a clear focus also on contemporary value issues affecting the Olympic movement and their implications for future policy.

Module 2: Olympic Athletes and Elite Sport in Transition
  • Start of Module: 1st term, 1st year
  • Responsible University: German Sport University Cologne and Canterbury University
  • Module leader: Prof. Dr. Stephan Wassong
  • Assessments: Group Presentation OR Written Exam (40%) and Essay (60%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5

A central focus of the module will be consideration of roles, rights and responsibilities of athletes and other stakeholders. Key issues to be addressed will include the athlete as role model; the athlete as national representative; codes of practice for sponsors and athletes; the obligations of nation states, the EU, and other bodies to afford protection of athletes’ rights; the athlete’s right to education. The module will also consider the athlete transition processes, for example into elite sport; into and out of further / higher education; into post athletic careers. The module will address issues of coach-athlete relationships and in particular ethical considerations, including consideration of how sporting organisations deal with ethical failures. Consideration of the engagement of young people in Olympic sporting competition will include the protection of rights of young people and the relationship between the Youth Olympic programme and the wider Olympic movement.

Module 3: Research Methodologies in Olympic Studies
  • Start of Module: 2nd term, 1st year
  • Responsible University: Christian-Albrecht-Universität zu Kiel
  • Module leader: Prof. Dr. Jens Flatau
  • Assessments: Five Research Proposals of 500 words each (20% each)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5
  • Philosophy of social science and paradigms (ontology and epistemology).
  • Philosophy of History (teleological accounts, history as narrative).
  • Techniques in summarising, evaluating and presenting literature reviews (narrative reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis).
  • Historiography (evaluating authorship, sourcing, interpretation, style, bias and audience).
  • Qualitative techniques and analysis (ethnography, content and document analysis, discourse analysis, interviews / focus groups, life histories, case research).
  • The range and nature of quantitative techniques and analysis (descriptive statistics, correlations, overview of tests, regression, t-tests, ANOVA).
  • Techniques of electronic research.
Module 4: Governance, Policy & Olympic Organisations
  • Start of Module: 2nd term, 1st year
  • Responsible University: German Sport University Cologne
  • Module leader: Prof. Stephan Wassong
  • Assessments: Group Presentation OR Written Exam (40%) and Essay (60%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5

The module aims to provide participants with a critical understanding of governance in the Olympic movement at three levels – systemic, organisational and political.

At the systemic level the focus will be on the interests of internal (Olympic family) and external (e.g. UN, UNESCO, European Union, Arab League etc.) stakeholders and on the strategies and tactics adopted by stakeholders to realise their interests.

At the organisational level the focus will be on key features of good organisational or corporate governance and how these are reflected in the policies and practices of key Olympic bodies, in particular the IOC, NOCs, IFs and NFs. Such analysis will consider the specificity of sport and the need to adapt corporate governance principles to take account of this specificity.

At the political level the focus will be on how governments and governing bodies use resources from direct control to indirect Incentivisation of appropriate behaviours to achieve political goals (in particular national governments, the European Union, and WADA) and how such political goals impact on governance systems.

The range of policies to be considered within this framework may for example include anti-doping, recognition of International Federations, eligibility status of athletes, and selection of Olympic host cities, selection of sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games, the role of the Court of Arbitration, and the use of Olympic Solidarity as a vehicle for achieving partnership and desired policy outcomes.

Module 5: Olympic Games – Media and Commercialization
  • Start of Module: 3rd term, 2nd year
  • Responsible University: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Module leader: Prof. Emilio Fernandez Pena
  • Assessments: Group Presentation OR Written Exam (40%) and Essay (60%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5

The historical development of the relationship between the Olympic World and Worlds of Media and Commercialisation will be analysed from the First Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 until the present day. Special considerations will be given to the 1980s in which strategic decisions were made to turn to new commercial strategies. Clear turning points were the new financial concept developed for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the invention of the TOP-Programme in 1983. The relationship between media sponsors, and Olympic organisations and their values will be a critical focus of this module.

The IOC’s use of its media resources as policy vehicles (including the collection and dissemination of media images through the Information Management Department) will be subject to evaluation.

The development of new media and their implications for the Olympic movement and its media policies will also represent a core concern of the module.

Module 6: International Relations and the Olympic Movement
  • Start of Module: 3rd term, 2nd year
  • Responsible University: TBD
  • Module leader: TBD
  • Assessments: Group Presentation OR Written Exam (40%) and Essay (60%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 7,5

The module will focus on substantive policy areas / Olympic phenomena with an international relations dimension, and on aspects of IR related theory and their contribution to understanding such phenomena.

Substantive topics may include: the development of Olympic Solidarity and the concept of sport aid; the role of the Olympic movement in relations between divided nations (e.g. the two Germanys; the two Koreas; China and Taiwan; the two Irelands; Israel and Palestine); sport and the Cold War; sport and the ‘clash of civilisations’; Sport and International Development programmes; sport and the peace movement; the development and political context of the modern Olympic Truce; WADA and international relations; elite sport development models and ‘policy learning and transfer’ between states.

Theoretical perspectives employed through which to address these substantive areas will be drawn from the fields of international relations, political sociology and policy analysis.

  • Start of Module: 4th term, 2nd year
  • Responsible University: German Sport University Cologne
  • Module leader: Prof. Dr. Stephan Wassong
  • Assessments: Thesis (100%)
  • ECTS-Credits: 15

The thesis is undertaken through independent study. It offers students the opportunity to undertake a research project on a topic of their choice but with clear links to the contents taught in the programme. Students will have formal teaching on a range of research skills and strategies which have to be applied in the thesis in particular through the module Research Methodologies in Olympic Studies. During the writing process of the thesis students will be guided by regular individual tutorials from their dissertation supervisor who teaches on the programme. The supervisor will oversee the research proposal for the thesis and will feed back to the students on that draft.