There is a wide range of courses in the sports sector, from sports science, to performance and sports psychology. This subject area offers access to a huge choice of job roles, from hands-on fitness, to administration and management.

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:

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.

Personal statement

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)
  • Playwork
  • 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 about apprenticeships in England


Apprenticeships in Wales

Foundation-level apprenticeships:

  • Instructing Exercise and Fitness (April 2011)
  • Leisure Operations (May 2011)
  • Playwork (June 2011)

Advanced-level apprenticeships:

  • Advanced Fitness (April 2011)
  • Leisure Management (May 2011)
  • Advanced Playwork (June 2011)

Find out more about apprenticeships in Wales

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)

Find out more about apprenticeships in Scotland

Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland

  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship in Active Leisure and Learning

Find out more about apprenticeships in Northern Ireland

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in sport.

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