Sports Coaching BSc (Hons)

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Course starts: 17 September 2018Apply now

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Indulge your passion for sport and physical activity. Gain a deep understanding of sport-related psychology and physiology. Specialise in sports coaching theory and practice, opening up a path to a wide range of sport-related careers.

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This course develops hands-on practical skills as well as academic rigour. During the first year, you’ll be introduced to sport-related psychology, physiology, anatomy, and biomechanics. You’ll also be encouraged and supported to obtain National Governing Body Coaching Awards, opening up great opportunities when you graduate.

Why us?

  • Developing your practical experiences in front of groups and individuals is an important component of this course, thus a significant part of it will be based in our multi-million pound sports facility at CitySpace, or with members of the sporting community
  • 91% of our BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students)

Course structure

Our teaching methods are designed to develop both your knowledge and also skills that enhance employability. Methods include small group work, practical activities, workshops, lectures, tutorials, computer-based learning, presentations and independent learning.

There are also on-going assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include essays, reports, practical work and presentations.

You can also choose modules in sport and exercise leadership which can result in Skills Active accredited Gym Instructor, Personal Trainer and Exercise Referral awards at no additional cost.

Year 1 (national level 4):

Principles of Sport and Exercise Physiology (20 credits)

  • Take an introductory look at the fundamentals of human physiology with applications to acute exercise
  • Cover the structure and function of each of the systems in the body and the regulation of responses to exercise

Principles of Sport and Exercise Psychology (20 credits)

  • Gain an understanding of psychology and motor behaviour within a sport and exercise setting
  • Demonstrate knowledge of psychological concepts and explain their relevance in health-related physical activity/exercise and performance enhancement

Principles of Sport and Exercise Biomechanics (20 credits)

  • Get an introduction to the way in which the fundamental laws of mechanics can be applied to understand and evaluate human movement through observation and measurement

Principles of Sport and Exercise Anatomy (20 credits)

  • Gain theoretical and practical knowledge of the anatomy of the human body
  • Identify individual structures using anatomical models, images and other media, and then compare them to real human subjects through palpation techniques

Principles of Sport and Exercise Leadership (20 credits)

  • Focus on issues that impact upon leading, coaching, instructing and exercise related sessions.
  • Investigate the roles of the coach and instructor, qualities and requirements of the effective coach and instructor and the psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence them.

Personal and Professional Development (20 credits)

  • Develop key study and employability skills essential for academic and professional success. Increase your awareness and understanding of the processes involved in learning and professional development.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules

Fundamentals of Sports Coaching (20 credits)

  • Gain an understanding of the coaching process by investigating the roles of the coach and the components of effective coaching
  • Address the differences in practice and closely examine participation and performance coaching

Theory and Practice of Sports Coaching (20 credits)

  • Undertake practical coaching activities both as an individual and in a group setting
  • Link theory to practical coaching activities, with a focus on the planning and undertaking of effective sports coaching sessions
  • Undertake a placement

Research Methods in Sport and Exercise (20 credits)

  • Study the research process and learn how to construct an investigation from an initial idea, to the point of completing and presenting the study
  • Learn quantitative and qualitative research design and analysis, and apply the most appropriate research

Optional modules - choose three

Sport and Exercise Physiology 1 (20 credits)

  • Develop your knowledge of exercise physiology and its application to training in exercise and sports
  • Examine both the acute and chronic effects of exercise on the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems in both normal and abnormal environments

Sport and Exercise Biomechanics 1 (20 credits)

  • Gain an understanding of the mechanics of rigid bodies and fluid mechanics contextualised into the realm of sport and physical exercise
  • Investigate some of the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems of the human body at rest and in motion in terms of injury, rehabilitation and physical performance, using the biomechanical concepts

Sport and Exercise Psychology 1 (20 credits)

  • Use the theoretical models of motivation to look at the determinants and correlates of adoption and maintenance of regular physical activity and of successful performance in sport

Injuries and Rehabilitation (20 credits)

  • Look at the prevention of injury and ill health, and the mechanisms behind injury and healing, including psychological aspects
  • Focus on strategies to reduce the risk of injury during performance of sport and physical activity, and take an introductory look at sports massage, providing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills

Personal Training (20 credits)

  • Learn how to collect, interpret and analyse client information using validated methods appropriate for the health and fitness industry and in-line with current qualification framework
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to real-life and case study situations

Final year (national level 6):

Core modules

Contemporary Issues in Sports Coaching (20 credits)

  • Explore the differences and similarities in knowledge, skills, and vocational opportunities that underpin the professional development of coaches
  • Gain knowledge of the specific training requirements of individual and team sports and how to apply this to modern training methods

Developing Excellence in Sports Coaching (20 credits)

  • Develop your theoretical knowledge into vocational practice
  • Critically evaluate your professional skills in a coaching setting and reflect on professional practice

Dissertation 1 or Dissertation 2 (20 credits or 40 credits)

  • Carry out a small-scale piece of research on a sport and/or exercise-related area. Analyse or review an existing data set or subject area using appropriate techniques and interpret the outcomes

Optional modules - choose two or three

Sport and Exercise Physiology 2 (20 credits)

  • Look at how the body performs and responds to exercise
  • Get an introduction to advanced and applied issues in sport and exercise physiology

Sport and Exercise Biomechanics 2 (20 credits)

  • Explore the methods used in the biomechanical assessment of sporting performance through technique observation and analysis
  • Carry out kinetic and kinematic analysis of human movement using modern instrumentation, involving electromyography, 3D motion capture, video digitizing and analysis, use of force platforms and foot pressure measurements

Sport and Exercise Psychology 2 (20 credits)

  • Examine the relationship between mental health and states (including anxiety, mood and self-esteem) and physical activity (including sport performance and exercise participation)

Nutrition for Sport and Exercise (20 credits)

  • Focus on nutrition in sports and exercise, underpinned with an understanding of metabolism
  • Consider the role of nutrition and physical activity in terms of health and nutritional supplements in relation to performance in sport and exercise

Physical Activity and Exercise for Special Populations (20 credits)

  • Look at exercise and activity management skills in relation to specific populations and exercise referral individuals
  • Review the current research relating to physical activity and exercise management for certain population groups

Sciences Complex,
City Campus,


  • Our Biomechanics lab contains equipment that measures motion, muscle activity and forces on the body during high intensity sports and the activities of daily living.

    Facilities include:

    • 3D motion capture systems including Vicon® systems and Xsens® motion capture suits
    • Software such as Dartfish®, Kinovea® and LongoMatch® software to capture live action images for match tagging and coaching feedback
    • Movement tracking tools such as Actigraph® and Catapult®
    • Delsys® Trigno electromyography equipment to see how the muscles of the body are working
    • Kistler® force platforms and Batak® reaction walls to analyse sporting performance
    • Novel® Pedar systems to analyse foot pressure
    Biomechanics equipment
  • Our City Campus features a state-of-the-art facility called CitySpace. It features:

    • Sports hall (suitable for hosting large-scale events)
    • Fitness suite/gym
    • Strength and conditioning room
    • Injury prevention and support suite
    • Fitness classes
    • Climbing wall
  • Facilities for monitoring and testing exercise physiology and psychology include:

    • Polar® Team2 heart rate monitoring system for assessing the heart rates of a full squad of team players in real time
    • Cortex® gas analysers to evaluate cardiovascular performance
    • Biochemical analysers from Randox®, Jenway® and Gonotec® to measure substances and enzymes within the body
    • Tendo®, Myotest® and Globus® equipment to profile your strength and power and develop specific training programmes
    • Fusion Sport® SMARTSPEED light gates for assessing speed, agility and reaction times
    • Assess and enhance cognitive performance using our Neurotracker® 3D multiple object tracking equipment
    Exercise physiology and psychology
  • In our lab you'll find fitness and conditioning equipment that would be the envy of most modern gyms. From a wide range of cardiovascular equipment to machine and Olympic weights, you will receive hands-on teaching in a professional environment.

    Fitness and Conditioning Suite
  • Across the Sunderland area you'll have access to the following sports facilities:

    • 50m Olympic size swimming pool
    • 95m artificial ski slope
    • Warehouse climbing wall
    • Football training pitches at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light
    • Marine Activities Centre for sailing, canoeing, kayaking and powerboating
    • LTA approved indoor tennis centre with 13 indoor and outdoor courts
    • Floodlit athletics tracks
    Sport facilities
  • Anatomy is taught by experienced staff in a specialist clinical lab using skeletons, anatomical models, 3D software, online material and human subjects. You will learn techniques for sports injury rehabilitation, including the use of sports massage and ultrasound equipment.

    You will also examine balance and stability using our Biodex® stability and balance trainer and assess strength imbalances using our sophisticated Biodex® dynamometer and new BTE Primus® rehabilitation equipment. You can investigate how new techniques such as thermal imaging are being used in injury assessment with Flir® IR cameras.

    Sports medicine and anatomy


Sunderland's outstanding facilities include laboratories with the latest fitness equipment and technology.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If you are applying for year 1 or year 2 entry, you must have a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check before starting the course. If you are offered a place on the course, the University will cover the cost of the DBS check and send you relevant information on how to complete this.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.


Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £10,750 if you are from outside the EU

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

City Campus by night


Potential employers for graduates of this course include national sports associations, sports and leisure companies, recreation services, local authorities, health bodies including the NHS, schools and colleges.

During the course, you will be encouraged and supported to obtain National Governing Body Coaching Awards to support future development in the area. This will allow you to develop the skills required to become an effective coach across a range of activities.

Health and Fitness qualifications

The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences is now endorsed to award vocational qualifications (related to the health and fitness industry) to students who successfully complete specific modules. 

University level Main module mapped to

Vocational qualifications

4 Principles of Sport and Exercise Leadership Level 2 Gym Instructor
5 Personal Training Level 3 Personal Trainer
6 Physical Activity and Exercise for Special Populations Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

Career options

Job roles include the following (some require further training):

  • Sports coach/instructor
  • Sports and exercise psychologist
  • Fitness centre manager
  • PE teacher

Meet our academics