BSc (Hons) Sports Development and Coaching

This Sports Development and Coaching degree produces graduates who truly understand the challenges and ever evolving nature of the field. Abertay is Scotland's TOP Modern University for teaching satisfaction in Sports Science (The Guardian University Guide 2022).

Course detail

Start Date



4 years

Award Title

BSc (Hons)



Programme Overview

From grassroots initiatives developing the next generation of athletes to training elite sportspeople on the world stage – sports development and coaching requires well qualified graduates who truly understand the challenges and ever evolving nature of the field.

Please note: This is one of the specialist routes within the sports portfolio at Abertay. You’ll make your choice of specialist route at the end of stage two of the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise programme. Students must have completed SPS105 or have a coaching award, a coaching module or have prior experience of coaching at least one sport prior to starting Stage 3 of this course.

Study the sciences that underpin sport – physiology, sociology, psychology and biomechanics – and gain a comprehensive understanding of sport coaching, social policy, sport development and social issues in sport and exercise more generally as you progress through this fascinating and hands-on degree.

Sport is an expansive industry, which is why this programme has been designed to reflect this diverse and changing employment market to incorporate  coaching, service provision, duty of care, as well as personal and community development. 

Practical activities and work placements will enable you to contextualise theory to real life applications – including volunteering with the Active Schools programme – and prepare for National Governing Body or industry qualifications and employment in sport. 

This course scored an incredible 100% for Overall Student Satisfaction in the 2020 National Student Survey.

Abertay is widely regarded as THE place to come for high quality teaching. But don't take our word for it:

  • UK University of the Year for Teaching Quality (The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021).
  • Top 10 in the UK for Student Satisfaction with Teaching, Course and Feedback (Guardian University Guide 2021).
  • UK Top 10 for Student Satisfaction (National Student Survey 2020).

Undergraduate Open Days

Visit our Dundee campus and find your place at Abertay University.

Our 2023 undergraduate Open Days will be held on ...

  • Saturday 30 September 2023

  • Saturday 4 November 2023

... and you're invited!

Click below to book your place. 


Your Journey Starts Here

In the first two years, you’ll follow a core curriculum that provides a basis for more specialised study in the final two years. At the end of the second year of study, you’ll choose a route leading to BSc (Hons) in one of the following specific named awards:

  • BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science
  • BSc (Hons) Physical Activity and Health
  • BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise
  • BSc (Hons) Sports Development and Coaching
  • BSc (Hons) Strength and Conditioning

You’ll also be given access to our Human Performance Laboratory, with running, rowing, fitness testing and weights machines. You’ll also have opportunities to meet the numerous professional sportsmen and sportswomen who draw on the expertise of our lecturing staff within this facility.

About Your Modules

All modules shown are indicative and reflect course content for the current academic year. Modules are reviewed annually and may be subject to change. If you receive an offer to study with us we will send you a Programme document  that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme. Please see Terms and Conditions for more information.


Year 3 Core Modules

You must study and pass all four core modules

Brief description

Critical overview of sport structures and policies and how they contribute to sport development in the UK.

Indicative content:

  • Sport governance in the UK: Overview of how sport is structured and organised in the UK. Explore the effectiveness of these structures.
  • A basis for sport policy: Awareness of the underlying socio, cultural and political issues underpinning contemporary sport policy (e.g., coach education, local schemes and strategies) and sport development officers.
  • Sport policy: Overview of contemporary sport policies at international, national, regional and local level.
  • Policy to practice: Explore the ways in which sport policy is actioned by national organisations as part of sport development, and sport development officers.

Brief description

Contemporary issues in sport and exercise, particularly those you are likely to encounter and have to navigate in future employment.

Indicative content:

  • Social theory: Key aspects of social theory that can be/have been used to explain phenomena in sport and exercise.
  • Inequality and discrimination: The main sources of inequality and discrimination in sport and exercise (e.g., gender, social class, ethnicity, LGBTI).
  • Sport and politics: How various political systems/ ideologies and governing bodies use sport/athletes as a vehicle for social control.
  • Ethics and sport: Moral and ethical issues in sport and exercise (e.g., child protection). Sport and exercise cultures provide a unique environment for moral and ethical issues.

Brief description

The concepts of coaching and learning and their application to physical activity environments. Move beyond a reductionist view of coaching simply as a systematic procedure and consider and discuss the influence of the social aspects of coaching such as leadership, relationships, and social environments.

Indicative content:

  • Coaching and learning: Students will consider the definition and purpose of coaching and learning and what it has to do with teaching and education.
  • The role of the coach: The role of the coach, their purpose and what they try to achieve. Consider the level of participation, demands placed on coaches by external bodies, and coaches own philosophies towards the instruction of athletes.
  • The coaching process: The key characteristics of coaching. Consider a variety of leadership and relationship models and how they fit into the idea of coaching as a systematic process.
  • Skill development: The principles that underpin the creation on an efficient learning environment. Consider modern theories of skill acquisition and how they relate to effective teaching.
  • Participant groups: Different categorisations of participants and how this impacts on the planning and delivery of the coaching process.

Brief description

Develop your ideas about research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health, to better understand and appreciate published research and design your own research project.

Indicative content:

  • The research process: The steps associated with planning and conducting a research process.
  • Formulating and refining research questions: How research ideas are questions are generated and refined.
  • Research methodologies: Various research methodologies (e.g., quantitative, qualitative and mixed−methods). Develop an appreciation of diverse approaches to research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health.
  • Ethical issues: The key ethical issues associated with research in sport, exercise, physical activity and health.
  • Practical skill development: Develop your practical research skills in your chosen discipline area.

Year 3 Option Modules

You must study and pass two option modules of your choosing, one from Group [A] and one from Group [B].  (You must do a Work Placement module in either Year 3 or Year 4.)

Brief description

A work placement to give you structured and practical experience of your own particular area of the sports industry to enhance your employability. 

Indicative content:

  • Career pathways: Reflect on your prospective career path. Identify strengths and limitations that you can address to enhance your career progression.
  • Understanding the prospective work environment and organisation: Identify appropriate organisations and opportunities in line with your own continued professional development. Engage in organising an appropriate work placement. Be guided by staff, but lead the process, to develop your ability to find and apply for appropriate employment.
  • Work placement: Undertake the appropriate work placement aligned with your study programme and within a prospective work environment. 

Brief description

Theoretical and practical knowledge of the fundamentals of strength and conditioning. Learn some of the major underpinning physiological and biomechanical components of human performance, and scientifically justified periodised methods for training to achieve specific goals. 

Indicative content:

  • Introduction to Strength and Conditioning/Functional Screening: Introduction to key terminology/concepts of Strength and Conditioning and a fundamental understanding of basic functional athlete screening.
  • Introduction to Human Movement: An introduction to human anatomy and the mechanics of human force production (e.g., planes of movement, lever systems).
  • Introduction to Compound lifting: Introduction to the major compound exercises (e.g., Back/Front Squat, Dead−Lift, Bent−Over Row, Bench Press and an introduction to Weightlifting derivatives) with Key technical elements and coaching points associated with each lift.
  • Neuromuscular physiology: Neuromuscular physiology and fibre types.
  • Plyometric training: An introduction to the fundamental principles underpinning Plyometric Training (Stretch−Shortening −Cycle) and an understanding of the key technical coaching points.
  • Sports nutrition: Principles of periodised sports nutrition for S&C training programmes.

Brief description

The core physiological concepts that underpin performance. Gain knowledge of biochemical, cardiovascular and neuromuscular bases for performance and training the body for endurance, team and strength. Use both physiological and biomechanical equipment to explore and collect physiological data in relation to enhancing sports performance outcomes.

Indicative content:

  • Biochemistry of performance: The core concepts of energy production during sport and exercise, the metabolic processes and the rate limiting steps for performance and the metabolic adaptations to training.
  • Cardiovascular system and performance: Cardiac output and blood flow regulation and cardiovascular adaptation to training.
  • Neuromuscular system and performance: The contractile mechanism, motor unit activation, neuromuscular fatigue and strength, power and speed performance.
  • Doping and performance: The role of doping in elite sport and the physiological adaptations to doping.
  • Training for performance: Different training modalities to improve endurance and anaerobic power and strength. How to plan energy specific programmes.

Brief description

The health benefits of physical activity and its potential function in disease prevention, treatment and its role in promoting and maintaining public health.

Indicative content:

  • Relationship between physical activity and health: Physical activity and disease mortality Morbidity. Historical perspective to present day.
  • Epidemiology of physical activity: Concepts and methods in physical activity Epidemiology Epidemiological measures.
  • Variations in health status: Influence of age, gender, social status, education.
  • Determinants of participation in physical activity: Challenges of engaging people in physical activity.
  • Physical activity recommendations.
  • Place and emphasis of physical activity in health policy: Identified role of physical activity in policies to promote health. Developing role, adoption and promotion of physical activity as a tool to promote health of the nation.
  • Role of physical activity in promoting physical and mental health: Physical and mental health benefits of regular participation in physical activity.

Brief description

The principles of biomechanics and the concept of performance analysis within a sporting context. Using biomechanics to create evidence based intervention strategies to optimise performance.

Indicative content:

  • Performance analysis: Identify what performance analysis is, observe performance analysis against existing models, apply and assess the efficacy of the different types of performance analysis.
  • Biomechanical concepts associated with performance: Evaluate biomechanical concepts in relation to their application within a sporting/performance concept. Discuss biomechanical factors that contribute to performance or used to optimise performance.
  • Development of intermediate laboratory skills: Develop intermediate laboratory skills in collection of biomechanical data including, 3D assessment of movement, kinetics using force platforms (ground reaction forces and stability).
  • Data processing and analysis: How to effectively process and analyse biomechanical data generated using biomechanical laboratory equipment.

Brief description

Health issues high on the policy agenda and the ways in which participation in physical activity can be and is promoted as a way to address them.

Indicative content:

  • Defining health: The different ways in which health can and will be defined.
  • Complexity of health promotion in contemporary society: The ways in which health promotion has the potential to both reduce and exacerbate existing social inequalities.
  • Physical activity, its determinants and importance for health promotion: The factors that influence physical activity and its fundamental role in health promotion.
  • Health promotion, physical activity and the environment: The environmental factors that influence the promotion of health and physical activity participation.

Brief description

The theory and knowledge of sports psychology and aspects of applied sports psychology in the sport and performance context.

Indicative content:

  • Sports psychology context and practice: Role(s) of the sports psychologists; contexts and different perspectives on the work of a sports psychologist.
  • Planning and developing interventions: The needs analysis process; empowerment; ownership and motivation; assessment of efficacy.
  • Psychological skills training: Theory and research of goal setting, relaxation, energisation, imagery, positive self-talk, pre-performance and performance routines. Performance enhancement contexts; injury prevention and rehabilitation contexts.

Year 4 Core Modules

You must study and pass all four core modules

Brief description

Undertake an independent research project in an area of sport, health or physical activity. 

Indicative content:

  • Research project topics: Select your research project topic with staff guidance. You are allocated a supervisory tutor within the Division.
  • Supervisory sessions: These cover the identification of a research question; necessary elements of research design; the approach needed to prepare for and complete the research project; a range of appropriate research methods; appropriate statistical analyses; the structure of the research report; the interpretation of the research results; possible or probable conclusions; and the writing of the report.

Brief description

One of the most important aspects of sport is the people involved, whether they are taking part, coaching, administering, volunteering or involved in some other capacity. The Sport Duty of Care Review raised questions about whether the wellbeing and welfare of people are being put at the centre of what sport does and delivers. 

Indicative content:

  • Safeguarding: What more could be done to strengthen sport’s position in relation to the protection of young people and adults at all levels of sport.
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Specific aspects of duty of care with relevance to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Injuries: How the likelihood of injury can be lessened and whether improvements can be made to how sporting injuries are treated in the short and long term.
  • Career transitions: The support people receive as they transition through the sport system, including entering and leaving top-level sport.
  • Mental health: Issues relating to the prevention, identification and management of mental health issues in sportspeople.
  • Education: How sportspeople can be supported to help them balance education with their sporting activities.
  • Representation of the participant’s voice: How the views of sportspeople are considered in decisions affecting them in sport.

Brief description

The professionalism and development of coaching and learning using an evidence-based approach contextualised to real world examples. The issues of professionalism in education and teaching and the different approaches to the development of those responsible for expertise in athletes and other learners.

Indicative content:

  • The coach as a professional: The expanded roles of a professional coach. The definition of professionalism and the concepts involved in the recognition of coaching as a profession.
  • Coach education: Research−led knowledge and scientific literature and the links it has to the advice and guidance given to those leading coaching and learning. The dissemination of knowledge and the appropriateness of how it is presented.
  • National Governing Bodies: The role NGBs play in supporting coaching and learning. The increasing professionalism of the coaching process, coach education, and scientific support.
  • Volunteer culture: The volunteer culture in sports coaching within the UK and the tensions this can create with the need for legislation, licensing, and education.

Brief description

The way sport can be used to address social issues, some of the problems with this approach, and how these issues can be overcome. A theoretical and practical toolkit for sport development work.

Indicative content:

  • Community development: A community development approach to sport delivery.
  • Ideologies of sport for development: The political ideologies associated with sport development work.
  • Community Practice: The community practice approach to sporting provision.
  • Sport for development and peace: The use of sport as a tool of international development.
  • Sport, globalisation and development: Recent changes in societies and their implications for sport and development.
  • Liberating education and critical consciousness: The notion of liberating education and how it can be applied to sport development work.
  • The politics of development: The political nature of development work and the utility of social movements for development.

Year 4 Option Modules

You must study and pass one option module of your choosing. (If you didn’t take the Work Placement module in Year 3, you must take the Career Placement module.)

Brief description

A work placement within a prospective work environment to expand your knowledge and understanding of your subject and its applications within a real-life setting. 

Module content:

  • Career pathways: Reflect on your prospective career path and evaluate your subject-based and transferable skills, identifying strengths and limitations to address to enhance your career progression.
  • Understanding the prospective work environment and organisation: Identify appropriate organisations and opportunities for enhancing you own continued professional development. Engage in organising an appropriate work placement. Be guided by staff but lead the process to find and apply for appropriate employment.
  • Work placement: Undergo an appropriate programme within a prospective work environment to enhance your ability to progress within your selected career pathway.

Brief description

Additional concepts, methods and techniques used in biomechanics. The interdisciplinary nature of sport biomechanics and injury prevention, for example the physiology of fatigue and its application to biomechanical measures.

Indicative content:

  • Clinical Biomechanics: Gait analysis – changes throughout the lifespan, effects of different footwear (including different cushioning systems and materials), effects of certain diseases and disabilities (including development of prostheses). Injury risk and prevention, including those through impacts, chronic and acute injuries and how these can be linked to health and safety issues.
  • Sport and Exercise Biomechanics: Injury risk, prevention and performance – use of biomechanical aids (including ankle bracing and taping) and their effects on injury incidence and performance. Integrative biomechanical assessment, which will focus on the utilisation and application of biomechanical laboratory skills developed in the third year module.

Brief description

The role of physical activity for special populations. How participation in physical activity has the potential to enhance physical, social and mental health and well−being. The challenges of getting different population groups to engage in physical activity.

Indicative content:

  • Guidelines: Population physical activity guidelines.
  • Benefits: Physical, social and mental health benefits associated with physical activity.
  • Needs and challenges: Identification of physical activity needs and challenges associated with engaging different groups in physical activity.
  • Participation: Examine participation trends associated with different populations.
  • Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values: Exploration of attitudes, beliefs and values of different populations regarding physical activity.

Brief description

Pursue a topic of interest, different from any other work either submitted or proposed relevant to your selected pathway. Manage your own learning and set agreed objectives.

Indicative content:

  • General: Content will depend on individual learning outcomes agreed.

The Elite Athletes Development Programme

There are some international-class athletes here at Abertay involved in a range of sports competing at senior and age grade national levels. We support these athletes in their quest for international success through the Elite Athletes Development Programme (EADP).

We are immensely proud to have helped some students reach their sporting goals and represent their country. Find out how to apply.

Elite Sport Rugby Action Shot - 3 players

How the Course Works

Learning and Assessment 

You’ll learn through a blend of lectures, small group work, and practical activities. You also undertake work placements to reinforce the link between theory and practice.

You’ll be encouraged to evaluate information and challenge commonly held ideas about sport and exercise, as well as being invited to research your own areas of interest and expertise.

You’ll be assessed through a combination of examination and coursework to help you develop a variety of intellectual and practical skills, such as being able to put forward a position based on evidence, or being able to discuss and promote ideas within a group.

Entry Requirements

Please note: All new entrants are required to undertake a criminal records check (PVG) at the point of entry to the programme.

Please note: All applicants must have a pass Maths - National 5 grade C or GCSE grade C/4.  National 5 Lifeskill Maths not accepted in lieu of Maths.

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses. You should look for those courses suitable for entry onto our BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise.

Republic of Ireland applicants, click on the UK tabs and scroll down to find your Entry Requirements.

See information about studying and applying to Abertay for International students.

Years 1 or 2 Entry to year 1 or 2 of this programme is through the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise programme, which will allow you to progress to this programme at the end of Year 2.

QualificationGrade RequirementsEssential Subjects
Advanced entry is available to applicants with a suitable HND. Please refer to the articulation routes to BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise on our Entry from College pages.--
Ukrainian flag

Support for Ukrainian students

We're keen to offer help to Ukrainian students who may wish to transfer from their existing institution in Ukraine or to register with us as new students for intake in September. There will be no tuition fees charged for the duration of the degree programme, as those with refugee status are treated as ‘Home/Scottish’ students and will also have access to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland bursary and student loans. Our Recruitment Team can help guide applicants.


Not sure if you're eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

If you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either ...

  • been in care
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university
  • attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university

... we encourage you to submit an application.

Fees and funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you depends on factors such as your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. 

More information

Find out about grants, bursaries, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs in our undergraduate fees and funding section.



We offer a range of scholarships to help support your studies with us.

As well as Abertay scholarships for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and international students, there are a range of corporate and philanthropic scholarships available. Some are course specific, many are not. There are some listed below or you can visit the Undergraduate scholarship pages.

Abertay RUK Scholarship: Science and Social Science

A scholarship for prospective undergraduate Science and Social Science students applying from England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Abertay International Scholarship

This is an award of up to £12,000 for prospective international undergraduate students.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £1,000 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.


There are many career opportunities available for well qualified graduates from this route, including:

  • Sports development officers in local authorities or individual sports
  • Physical activity development officers/coordinators
  • Sports administrators
  • Community coach

You’ll also find job opportunities in complementary occupations where leadership, motivation and communication are valued – including police officers, firefighters, journalists, marketing executives, public relations officers, and youth workers.

If you’re interested in teaching as a career, this programme meets the requirements for entry onto PGCE courses. This degree will also provide appropriate underpinnings for further study at MSc or PhD level.

Gym environment - female doing squats while three males spectate

Get inspired

Meet some of our Sports Development and Coaching graduates and find out what they've gone on to do.

A picture of Debbi McCullock in her Spartans coaching outfit.

Debbi McCulloch

Debbi rose up from groundsman to Deputy CEO at Spartans Football Academy.

Find out more

A photo of Paul Brand in Manchester United kit holding a trophy

Paul Brand

Paul landed his dream job as Head of First Team Analysis at Manchester United.

Find out more

A picture of Mark Williams holding a football

Mark Williams

Mark is Chief Operations Officer at the Denis Law Legacy Trust, which puts on a range of different programmes, ranging from activities in primary scho

Find out more


Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).

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