Course type:

Diploma in Sporting Excellence 2021 - 2023

If you’re an aspiring elite athlete looking to improve your performance with practical mentoring from a sport-specific coach, whilst studying your A-levels or BTEC diploma, then this course could be the perfect fit for you.

The programme – managed in partnership with national governing bodies across equestrian, modern pentathlon, rowing and rugby – offers you the opportunity to fulfil your sports potential alongside your main academic study, at Hartpury or at your chosen school or college.

The Hartpury programme offers a high-quality training environment with access to state-of-the-art sporting facilities and the benefits of conditioning experts, physiotherapists, nutritionists and many other industry professionals.

You’ll receive support and encouragement to reach your goals from our talented sports-specific coaches and mentors who have vast amounts of competitive experience at the highest level.

The comprehensive programme reflects the broad range of skills, knowledge and performance required by elite-level athletes, whilst supporting your personal development as a dual-career athlete.

It measures your ability to plan, apply and evaluate your development in the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of your sport, allowing you to increase your athletic performance and develop skills away from your sporting arena.

What is the Diploma in Sporting Excellence?

A Level 3 qualification with 64 UCAS points designed for student athletes who have the realistic potential to achieve excellence and are seeking to perform at the highest level.

It covers all aspects of training and sports performance support to improve athletic performance alongside personal and social development.

The award is notionally a two-year programme for aspiring athletes going into their first year of further education who are studying a state-funded educational programme, unless they’re receiving a 50% bursary or scholarship.

The delivery method of this course depends on your sport and your chosen place of study.

Please note: Rugby and rowing DiSE at Hartpury is completed as part of your academy programme, where you'll be selected by your academy manager to complete the dual-career programme alongside your academic study if you meet the performance standards from your national governing body.

If you're a modern pentathlon or equestrian athlete, this is delivered on a blended learning programme with camps at Hartpury in half-term holidays with one-to-one mentoring in your technical and tactical development in between your camps.

If you wish to apply for this course you'll be selected by Hartpury and your national governing body depending on your level of sporting performance in their performance pathways.

National governing bodies

There's more information about DiSE available on the national governing body websites below.

British Dressage | British Showjumping | British Eventing | GB Rowing

How do I apply for September 2021?

Please contact Thomas Staten (DiSE Programme Manager at Hartpury College) with any course enquiries.

How to apply for this course

Course Duration

2 Year
2 Year course
Course type:
Full Time
Part-time study options available

Entry Requirements


Riders must have 5 GCSE grades at 4 or above, and be continuing in education at school or college. This is a minimum requirement to be considered for selection. You must also be resident in England and meet the sporting requirements below:


  • Riders should be competing consistently at Medium level and above and achieving 65% or more. 
    • (Applicants should have a minimum of four results at the level required in the 12 months prior to application).
    • Riders will also be considered on younger horses (up to 7 years of age) who demonstrate the potential to compete successfully at International level and are already competing consistently at Elementary or above and achieving 70% or more. 
    • Please note freestyle scores do not count towards minimum criteria.

Para-equestrian dressage

  • Riders must have a current classification and should be consistently and currently scoring 62% in their relevant grade at BD Para Dressage Competitions. 
    • Please note freestyle scores cannot be counted.


  • Top 25% of starters in a CCI1* / - from 1st July 2018, CCI2* (from 2019) to close of application date
  • Top 25% of starters in the 2018 National U18 Championships
  • Long listed for the 2018/19 Junior European Team
  • Long listed for the 2018/19 Pony European Team
  • Top 25% of starters at the 2018 U18 Regional Team Championships
  • 25% of starters in the 2018 Pony Club Open Championships

The qualifying (MER's) results are as follows:

FEI Qualification CCI1*(2018), CCI2* (from 2019)


These results must have been achieved within British Showjumping classes since 1st Jan 2018.

  • 4 years; 90cm/ 1.00m - 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.00m table A7.
  • 5 years; 1.00m / 1.10m 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.10m table A7.
  • 6 years; 1.10m / 1.20m 4 double clears – minimum 1 double clear must be at 1.20m table A7.
  • 7 years; 1.20m / 1.30m 2 double clears – if no double clear at 1.30m must have 4 double clears at 1.20m table A7.
  • 8 years and above; 1.30m 4 double clears

Applications will be accepted from riders who are in their 16th year riding ponies, and have achieved a minimum 4 double clears 1.10m, one of which must have been Table A7 on their ponies. They must however, have moved onto horses and be riding horses for the duration of the programme.
Please be aware combinations achieving double clears at the biggest height per age category will be given priority selection.

Please note we will welcome applications that do not meet the sporting criteria if evidence can be provided to justify this.

How to apply

Apply online

To apply for a diploma course or A-levels at Hartpury College please complete an online application

What happens next?

Once we receive your application, we will write and invite you to attend an interview and written assessment with a member of staff on your chosen course. The interview is an opportunity to discuss the course content, ask any questions you may have and go on a tour of the campus.


If you are unable to complete an online application please contact

A Levels or a Diploma?

Are you unsure about whether A Levels or a BTEC Diploma are the right choice for you? Find out the key differences and which qualification would best suit your learning style and your career and further study ambitions on our dedicated page.

Find out more