Athlete training with their coach
MSc / Postgraduate Diploma

Professional Development in Sports Coaching

Typical offer: 2:1 honours degree (2:2 applicants considered individually)

Duration: 1-3 years; full-time or part-time options

Awarding body: Hartpury University

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Course overview

This course will enable experienced coaching practitioners from a range of high-performance, educational and voluntary environments to continue to develop their unique coaching practice whilst building their professional network.

Teaching staff have extensive experience supporting the development of bespoke learning programmes to develop unique professional skills, whilst working in collaboration with national governing bodies and public service organisations.

You’ll develop greater evidence-based appreciation for coaching practice, whilst collaborating with practitioners from a range of sporting disciplines to enrich your student experience.

Portfolio projects will be co-designed by you and your academic tutor to personalise content and structure to your learning needs and career aspirations. Alongside this, portfolio design can be completed via collaboration with your employer, CPD mentor or groups of coaches on the programme.

Recent students have used this portfolio process to create valuable professional development resources for their workplaces and personal networks, as well as national governing bodies of sport.

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What you'll study

What you'll study


Alongside taught modules that explore the principles underpinning effective coaching and pedagogy, you’ll complete individualised work-based portfolio projects, allowing you to link practice to theory, and then back to practice again.

Core and optional coaching modules, studied alongside MSc Sports Coaching students, will enable the valuable sharing of best practice. Recent topics have included the craft of coaching practice, coach philosophy, language, behaviour and planning.

Knowledge gained will support you to collate your experiences in an extended work-based portfolio project, designed and complete in partnership with your personal academic sports tutor, who will have a wealth of sports coaching industry experience.

Your portfolio can focus on practice within your current workplace role or used to plan and explore future developments linked to your coaching environment and career progression plans.  Coaching contexts span teaching and education, coach development and supporting high-performance athletes.

Alongside advancing your own professional development, your project can be used to inform industry practice. If applicable, your employer/colleagues can contribute to project aims, design and focus to create resources, presentations and ongoing discussions as part of a long-term continuing professional development process.

Postgraduate Diploma

The postgraduate diploma programme offers flexibility to those working in full-time sport roles, providing a taste of postgraduate study where you can scaffold learning alongside existing commitments and continue your professional development.

The postgraduate diploma includes all initial core modules and focused research within a coaching context that will reflect your current coaching role or career ambitions – these environments include high-performance sport, coach development and educational environments of all kinds and age groups.


Below you’ll find the compulsory modules for this course.

You’ll also be able to choose from a range of optional modules to suit your interests and career goals.

Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands.

Compulsory modules

Develop and implement a research project of your choosing. You’ll be allocated an individual supervisor to guide and support you to undertake this innovative independent piece of research.

Students need to choose from either this module or Coaching Work-Based Learning Extended Project.

You’ll reflect your personal learning needs, potential future mentors and peak coach experiences to date.

Understand coaching philosophy, behaviours and decision-making.

This will develop your reflective practices and their use in coaching.

This will prepare you to review current research and conduct your own research projects in the area of coaching.

You’ll develop and undertake a project focusing upon your workplace skills, practice and future career aims with the design and format of this work negotiated between you, your tutor, and, if applicable, your employer / funder / colleagues.

Students need to choose from either this module or Postgraduate Dissertation.

Optional modules

Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands.

Recent modules have independent evaluation of literature to create an evidence-based debate of a selected topic, and analysis of human anatomy and physiology in the context of rider performance across disciplines and levels.

Please visit our document library for more module information.

Further module information

How you'll study

How you'll study

We're committed to supporting you to fulfil your unique potential while you're here so that you can achieve your personal and professional goals.

Your support network

You'll benefit from a strong support network from day one. This will range from your lecturers, supervisors and personal tutor to our specialist academic (Achievement and Success Centre), employability (Innovation, Careers and Enterprise) and wellbeing teams.

Your learning experiences

You'll experience a range of teaching methods to strengthen your understanding of topics, including lectures, workshops and practical sessions.

Further details

One year, full-time

You can study each of these qualifications full-time and subsequently complete each within one year.

Two-three years, part-time

Alternatively, we offer flexible part-time options to help students to manage their studies alongside other commitments. These options can be tailored to suit your own needs, enabling you to complete your qualification in two or three years. Please enquire for further details.

The modular structure of the programme gives you flexibility and choice. You can attend introductory sessions for optional modules before deciding which ones you wish to study.

On successful completion of your modules you’ll gain academic credit that accumulates towards your award. The marks you gain may contribute towards your final masters degree differential award (pass, merit or distinction).

This programme offers students a mixture of classroom learning and independent research. Modules are generally based upon informal seminars facilitated by each module tutor and one-to-one tutorials allowing students to work around their other commitments. Some modules may bring in guest lecturers to provide topical and industry-relevant talks.

This course is taught in English.

Contact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
MSc degree13%0%87%
Postgraduate Diploma14%0%86%

Teaching contact time and method will vary depending on the module that you are studying.

You’ll be assessed through a mixture of assignments including written reports, presentations, reflective group conversations and video analysis of personal coaching practice.  Many of the modules will be marked based on a mixture of assessment types, whilst others will be based solely on one type of assessment.

Coursework is personalised to learner needs and may include practical observations, oral presentations and written work.

Written examPractical examCoursework
MSc degree0%19%81%
Postgraduate Diploma*0%9%91%

*Practical exam and coursework totals will vary depending on optional modules chosen.

This programme has been designed to fit around those working or volunteering within the sector.

Timetables, available during enrolment, are very flexible, but we recommend that you discuss this with a member of Hartpury staff in person before applying for the course.

Each semester normally consists of 12 weeks of scheduled teaching and then assessment weeks, with an overview below:

  • Scheduled teaching generally takes place across block weekends (Friday – Sunday)
  • Delivery on the teaching weekends is normally scheduled between 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Part-time students typically study for fewer block weekends across an academic year
  • Attendance dates and timetables are available before enrolment to support the arrangement of annual leave where required


All of Hartpury’s postgraduate coaching pathways regularly liaise to design, host and reflect upon coach development conferences and guest lecture visits, often utilising the Hartpury House listed building as a conference centre and specialist venue for continuing professional development.

Many portfolio projects include interviews and coach observations. Our network of connections, including recent MSc graduates and national governing body coach developers, provide numerous opportunities to blend data collection and professional networking within assessment tasks.


World-class facilities

You’ll have access to a diverse range of facilities while you’re here, many of which are newly built and world-class. Alongside lectures halls and workshop spaces, these include:

The majority of your learning will be work and project based, but you’ll have access to a diverse range of facilities while you’re here to suit your requirements.

Sports Academy

For example, projects focused on coaching pedagogy utilise our Sports Academy sports hall, equipped with extensive audio-visual technology for capturing and reflecting on practical sessions within group and individual assessment tasks. Recent students have based coach observations upon the extensive Sports Academy competitive and match preparation programme.

Study spaces

Our University Learning Centre has books, journals, ebooks, computers and breakout study spaces. In addition, we have a study Lounge - an informal space with sports equipment, study booths and chill-out spaces to support both studying and relaxation. Postgraduate students also have a specially designated study area with 24-hour access.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements


2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Students with 2:2 and relevant experience will be considered on a case by case basis.


Students with non-relevant qualifications but with significant vocational or professional experience will be considered on an individual basis after an extended opportunity to review course materials, seminar calendars and past assignment outputs.


In addition to the academic qualification an IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required.

Please contact us for further information:

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees and financial support

Please visit our student finance page for information on tuition fees and student loans, as well as non-repayable grants, bursaries and scholarships, eligible to different groups, to support with study costs.

Studentship scheme

Our Postgraduate Studentship Scheme provides a fantastic development opportunity, enabling you to complement your postgraduate study with important real-world research within a paid position at Hartpury.

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Hartpury-branded clothing

Hartpury University branded clothing is also available through our online shop, for those who wish to purchase it. However, this is not essential.

Performance Sports Academies

Find out more about joining one of our performance Sports Academy teams.

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Hartpury gym

Discover more about joining our gym.

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Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our student accommodation page for details.


We have stabling for 230 horses on campus. If you're interested in having your horse at Hartpury on DIY livery while you study, please visit our livery page for details and costs.

Equine Academy

If you have the talent and drive to develop your skills as an equestrian athlete alongside your studies, you may be eligible to join our Equine Academy. For further details including costs, please visit our Equine Academy page.

Get in touch

We would love to hear from you, so please get in touch. You can ask a specific question or simply pop your details in to be kept up-to-date with news and events.

Important information

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our published course information, however our programmes are reviewed and developed regularly. Changes or cancellation of courses may be necessary to ensure alignment with emerging employment areas, to comply with accrediting body requirements, revisions to subject benchmark statements or as a result of student feedback. We reserve the right to make necessary changes and will notify all offer-holders of changes as and when they occur.

*Reflects activities after 15 months for those MSc Professional Development in Sports Coaching students who graduated in 2020.