43,340 students were studying a sports course in 2014/15.
- 97% UK
- 3% international
- 91% full-time
- 9% part-time
Top five graduate destinations:
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation
- Wholesale and retail
- Accommodation and food service
- Human health and social work
What courses are available?
Sports studies is one of the subject areas which has seen a big increase in course provision since 1990. It is an increasingly popular career sector, with demand for higher level expertise in performance analysis, business management, and community engagement, as well as hands-on participation.
You can choose to study through vocational and academic routes, either through an apprenticeship or on more traditional higher education courses. Universities and colleges in the UK offer diplomas, foundation degrees, higher education diplomas, honours degrees, and postgraduate and professional qualifications in sport including the following:
- Activity leadership
- Sports administration and governance
- Sports coaching
- Leisure operations and management
- Spectator safety
- Sport and exercise science
- Sports journalism
- Sports performance
- Sports photography
Course options include:
- single, joint, and combined subject combinations
- full-time, and part-time (most offer professional placements)
- distance learning
Note: Courses may require Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) clearance.
You may be invited to attend an interview, which may include practical assessments depending on the course, or you may be asked to provide a portfolio of work as part of the entry requirements.
Universities and colleges will be looking for evidence that you are passionate about sport, and well-informed about the sports sector with great interpersonal skills. Your personal statement should reflect:
- first-hand experience of participating in sports, either as an individual or in a team
- any volunteering, coaching, or sports leadership experience
- how you have pursued the subject outside of school or college
- particular modules you’re looking forward to studying related to your career ambitions, and why
- your personality, enthusiasm, and determination to succeed
Apprenticeships in England
There is a broad range of apprenticeships available, starting at intermediate/Level 2. Entry requirements may differ depending on where you live in the UK. New apprenticeships are being developed at higher levels, including degree apprenticeships up to Level 7.
- Leisure operations and leisure management (groundsperson, rec/leisure attendant)
- Coaching (coach, instructor, teacher [tennis and swimming only])
- Spectator safety
- Activity leadership (community sports coach, activity leader, fitness instructor, activity instructor)
- Advanced apprenticeship in outdoor programmes (outdoor instructor, senior instructor, project leader, group leader)
- Exercise and fitness (personal training)
- Spectator safety (senior steward, marshal)
- Leisure operations and leisure management
- Advanced apprenticeship in sports development (school sports instructor, children’s activity professional)
- Supporting teaching and learning in physical education and school sport
The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) is a sports performance programme, structured training, and development route for talented 16 – 19 year olds. This is a specialist pathway, open to highly talented athletes who have a realistic potential to achieve excellence in their sport. Find out more.
Apprenticeships in Wales
- Instructing Exercise and Fitness (April 2011)
- Leisure Operations (May 2011)
- Playwork (June 2011)
- Advanced Fitness (April 2011)
- Leisure Management (May 2011)
- Advanced Playwork (June 2011)
Apprenticeships in Scotland
- Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning
- Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning
- Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance (Football)
Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland
- Level 2 Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning
- Level 3 Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning
Key areas of employment
Where can I find out more?
Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in sport.