This degree is delivered in partnership with VSI, and is delivered part-time (two years).

*This degree is subject to validation.

Degree overview

The MSc in Sports Directorship will qualify you for one of the most important roles today in modern global sport, that of Sporting Director, and critically, will provide you with the skills, knowledge and experience to equip you to sit in a strategic leadership role in a sporting organisation. This two-year part-time course teaches a unique curriculum, tailored to meet the real demands of leading sports organisations.

Covering sports leadership, personal development, masterminding innovation and change, sport governance and best practice – alongside a diverse range of hands-on extra-curricular activities – the course provided unrivalled preparation for the role of the sporting director. At the heart of the programme is the application of neuroscience. Rapidly gaining a foothold in the sporting and business world, this cognitive approach to performance is exclusive to the MSc Sports Directorship, and is simply a must-have for any sporting organisations on the lookout for a sporting director.

Designed to fit both on-campus learning and remote study around your work commitments, the MSc Sports Directorship equips you to become a sports business professional with all the skills and practical experience you need to take your next career step with confidence.

Graduate with the MSc Sports Directorship and join an elite group with the ability to apply for the role of a sporting director with a tailored degree under your belt.

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Degree content

Taught over two years in four modules plus an applied research project, the MSc Sports Directorship is delivered in a format which allows you to combine study and work in a way that best suits your working life. In each of the two years you will spend six blocks of two days (Wednesday and Thursday from October to May) on campus with project work to be completed in your own time. You’ll finish your second year with a six-month project, based around an issue within your own organisation.

Modules are self-contained and are delivered in sequence, to ensure that all members of your cohort community can learn from each other’s experiences.

The programme is enhanced by a series of guest lectures with expert speakers from the worlds of global sport and business.

Degree Specification Documents and Information

Graduates of VSI's MSc Sports Directorship programme will be awarded a degree by the University of East London.


In each of the two years you will spend six blocks of two days (Wednesday and Thursday from October to May) on campus with project work to be completed in your own time. You’ll finish your second year with a six-month project, based around an issue within your own organisation.

Year 1
Personal Leadership in a Global Sporting Environment

The module is designed to help students understand the complexities of leadership issues concerning styles, personalities and decision-making regarding all aspects of what is becoming the defined role of a Sporting Director. The module will investigate current and classic leadership theories and issues in the context of the global sporting environment using research, cases and examples from both the sporting and the broader business world.

Students will critique and evaluate the role of reflective learning and self-awareness in relation to the role of Sports Director as leader and examine the dynamics of trust, power and conflict in relational and collaborative setting of leadership practice. Critical evaluation of the contribution of theoretical models and approaches associated with leadership in a global context when applied in complex settings will support an assessment of the various approaches to the development of leaders as coach, and the practice of leadership.

Leading High Performance Sports Organisations in the Global Environment

This module is designed to help strategic leaders in sport explore the features of a high performing sporting organisation. The module will focus on high performing organisations, strategy, culture and talent management and will investigate what can be learned about high performance from both the sporting and the broader business world in order to overcome challenges. The focus of the module is on two critical questions:

  • What is a high performance organisation?
  • How do we build and sustain a high performance organisation?
Year 2
Leading Innovation and Change in the Global Sports Industry

This module will provide students with knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of innovation in the global sports industry context. It will explore the effects of innovation on global organisations, drivers of change, and the challenges of implementing change in the context of high performance sporting organisations in a global economy. Students will develop insight into a range of tools and techniques to develop innovative ways to solve problems. Gaining competitive advantage through analysis of neuroscience and psychology will allow students to consider and apply thinking to new situations in practice.

Financial, Legal and Media Issues for the Sporting Director

Students will develop a broad knowledge and conceptual base of the foundations of the legal, financial and media issues in the global sporting industry. They will explore the duties of a sporting director with respect to financial, legal and media responsibilities and understand the similarities and differences between the issues confronting contemporary global sporting organisations. Regulatory financial, legal and media frameworks will be explored to support students to operate effectively in the role of the Sporting Director.

Applied Professional Project

This module will equip students with the research skills to undertake a rigorous and critical professional project. It will support the development of an integrated understanding of theory and practice related to the analysis of selected organisational issues within the global sports industry. Students will learn to apply both theoretical and practical knowledge gained from both the taught element of the programme and their prior management experiences to a business/organisational issue. Through the assessment, students will deploy and utilise effectively appropriate research and/or problem-solving processes throughout the planning and execution of a live business project.

Entry requirements

Requirements overview

It takes an ambitious person to take part in the MSc Sports Directorship. We’re looking for self-starters who possess a combination of skills, experience and the desire to succeed. You may already be working in a sporting environment, for instance in a coaching, medical, finance or marketing role, and looking for the next crucial step in your sporting career. Alternatively, you may be in a business role, and seeking to make the move into sport to use your business skills in a new way.

The course also offers ex-players and sports professionals to acquire the business skills needed to take the step into the position on a sporting director. Many of our delegates spent their youth playing, not studying, and the application process takes that into account. The course is designed to build on existing talents and experience, whilst developing new leading-edge skills that are in demand throughout the sporting community.

Entry onto the course is therefore through a blend of life experience, career and reason for wanting to do the programme.

Admissions/Selection Criteria
  • Strong knowledge in the field of sports management suitable for Masters level academic work
  • Evidence of engagement with professional and academic literature/publications relevant to CPD
  • Ability to manage self-learning and professional duties where applicable
  • Evidence of ability to manage work independently
  • Proven track record of dealing with complex and multidisciplinary issues relevant to their chosen subject area

If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria for this programme, or for more information, please email

How to apply

To apply for this programme, please click here and follow the instructions to complete your application via our Learner Portal.

Career prospects

The Master’s Degree in Sporting Directorship is the first of its kind designed to develop all the personal and commercial attributes you need to become a successful Sporting Director.

The purpose of the course is to develop learners with the knowledge and skillsets required to move into a strategic leadership role at executive level within a sports organisation or sports business.

Graduates from this programme include:

Stoke City Manager and former Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill

“The way I look at things now is really changing since I started studying these modules. It’s especially good when, like me, you’re in a job that you can apply it to."

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Michael O'Neill
Ashley Giles
MSc Sports Directorship alumnus Ashley Giles England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Director
Read profile
Beth Tweddle MBE
MSc Sports Directorship alumnus Beth Tweddle MBE British Olympian
Read profile
Kelly Sotherton MBE
MSc Sports Directorship alumnus Kelly Sotherton MBE British Olympian
Read profile
Director of Rugby & Operations at Salford Red Devils Ian Blease

“I personally love the debates and personal challenges the programme provides. As a group you are taken out of your comfort zone and drill down into how you operate at strategic level within a business such as sport.”

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Ian Blease

Learning on the course takes many forms and one which our delegates find very valuable are the Masterclasses.  At each taught element of the course (approx every 6 weeks) there is always at least one Masterclass from which to gain knowledge and understanding via the insights and experiences of a range of senior people from the world of sport and business.

In the first year these are mostly from the world of sport, people in board positions and those responsible for strategy, leadership and management as well as people to inspire and motivate performance and your personal leadership style.

Masterclasses on the course include inspiring speakers like Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, former director of the New Zealand Rugby Union, former chairman of USA Rugby, and co-author (with Clive Gilson and Mike Pratt) of Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Top Sports Organisations.

VSI Sporting Directors Summit

Every year the VSI Sporting Directors Summit brings together industry experts from across sport to discuss the role of the Sporting Director. Students and graduates on this programme have free access to the Summit.

Representatives from Premier League football clubs, Super League rugby, politics, law and business descend to create a lively environment that focuses on executive leadership roles within sport.

Global Insight Series

The Global Insight Series is a thought leadership series, exclusively collated and made available for all UCFB and GIS on-campus and online students. The Global Insight Series provides unprecedented access to its elite sports network; including interviews with LMA managers and other guest speakers, and content from GIS’s Global Sports Summits at New York’s Red Bull Arena, Atlanta’s brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Toronto FC’s BMO Field and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).


September 2020

Tuition fees

£17,500 MSc fee
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£1,000 is payable up front, with the remaining balance split into two payments across the two years of study.

Find out more about fees and student finance

GIS global study hubs

New York’s Red Bull Arena, Atlanta’s brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Toronto FC’s BMO Field and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) play host to the Global Institute of Sport study hubs, enabling students and graduates to enhance their knowledge and expertise of the international sports industry.

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