Manchester Metropolitan University

Master of Sport Directorship (MSD)

2017 entry

Features and benefits of the course

Masterclass Series

You will have the opportunity to network with other senior professionals and also be able to attend exclusive guest speakers from leading businesses. Here are some examples of recent masterclasses:

Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi, Guest Speaker on Master's in Sport Directorship (YouTube Video)

Connected Leadership

Masterclass hosted in association with the Chartered Management Institute, hosted Dr Simon Heywood, CEO of Cirrus, who delivered a masterclass on how to build a more agile, customer driven business. 

Click here to watch the highlights video. 

Additional benefits of the course:

Uniquely underpinning the course content is the science of performance management that ensures you get the best out of yourself and those around you. In the context of personal and organisational development, it can dramatically improve the performance of the Sport Director as a leader, coach and manager of people.

With top level connections into the sports world and members on the prestigious Advisory Board, Manchester Met Business School are perfectly positioned to not only bring fascinating and informative guest lecturers to share their experiences with you, but also as part of an elite alumni, you will have access to a network of elite sporting contacts.

The programme will combine expert content delivery from the Business School teaching team and guest speakers with specialist expertise drawn from the national and international sporting business community in a workshop environment, providing new and best practice including case studies, in the fields of leadership, neuroscience, team performance, innovation, change and governance.

Feedback from the first MSD cohort who began their studies in 2014 includes:

“Experience is essential to be successful as a Sporting Director role. However, the course provides you with strategies to deal with any scenario you may encounter in this high-pressured position.”

“Excellent course – particularly the opportunity to network and apply theory to practice”.

“Do it, it will improve the way you think about the role”.

“A great opportunity to enhance the skills and knowledge required to lead a sporting organisation. A unique learning environment with a mix of high profile, successful, experienced, intelligent and interesting characters, directed by excellent university tutors. An opportunity not to be missed”.

“The course brings in senior influencers in sport and business to share their experiences and knowledge.”

About the course

You will study five units across the two years:

  • Personal Leadership to Shape, Inspire and Develop
  • Leading a High Performing Sports Organisation
  • Masterminding Innovation and Change
  • Sport Governance and Best Practice
  • Sporting Directorship in Practice

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

Unit One - Personal Leadership to Shape, Inspire and Develop

Ensuring you get the best out of yourself and those around you is central to the role of Sport Director. In addition, we have placed neuroscience throughout the Master's Degree in Sport Directorship.

Recognising the brain first and foremost as a social system, neuroscience enables a better understanding of how individuals can use their understanding of neuroscience to impact their leadership and performance.

Summary of learning:       

  • Personal leadership
  • Critical reflection
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Leader as coach
  • Leadership development.

As a Leader, Manager and Coach, a critical skill required is the importance of understanding yourself and others. Understanding neuroscience, how your brain responds and reacts is fundamental to how you perform. Throughout this unit you will develop an understanding of emotional regulation and the neuroscience of smart work.

This unit explores leadership through exploring theory and practice. You are also required to explore leadership through a reflective lens to enable critical reflection on self as leader, development of self, leadership and management practice within a Sport Directorship context. It critically examines the importance of coaching, mentoring and action learning as approaches to facilitate development of others, develop leadership practice and develop leader as coach. The unit will critically examine leadership dynamics within complex settings.

Personal Leadership: Personal critical reflection through the use of leadership profiling tools, neuroscience, leadership theory and reflection frameworks.

Critical reflection: Reflective frameworks and approaches (reflection, coaching, mentoring, action learning) to critically explore self, self as Leader, development of self and leadership practice in the complex context of Sporting Directorship.

Coaching and Mentoring: critically examine the importance of coaching, mentoring and action learning as approaches to facilitate development of self, leadership practice and others.

Leader as coach: critically starting the development of Sport Director/leader as coach; evaluate role of leader as coach and complexities of developing and inspiring others.

Leadership development: examine the complexities of leadership drawing on leadership theories including sports leadership and emerging fields of leadership (e.g. Ethical, Collaborative, and Authentic). These will be evaluated in relation to dynamics of leadership in a complex setting and will include areas such as conflict, power, trust, collaboration and context.

Unit Two - Leading a High Performing Sports Organisation

As guardian for the organisation's future development, the Sport Director needs to be a visionary and inspirational leader, focused on performance delivery and not afraid to take centre stage. Introducing change to an organisation requires focus and excellent personal leadership skills.

Summary of learning

  • Leadership advantage - sense making to find strategic advantage for sporting organisations
  • Communicating and leading to build a performance culture
  • Shaping high performance.

This unit is about how leaders create a high performance sport organisation. It will help leaders identify strategic advantage, and navigate the unpredictable nature of sporting contexts. It explores how they communicate and influence to effect and lead cultural change to shape high performance sports organisations. Throughout this unit you will come to see what a substantial role and understanding of neuroscience can play in how we work with people.

Year 2

Unit Three - Masterminding Innovation and Change

This unit takes an action research-based approach to explore the effects of innovation on organisations, drivers of change and the challenges of implementing change in the context of high performance sporting organisations. You will learn to understand that a change from the norm often creates a chemical response within the brain that will drive our mental, emotional and social interactions. Throughout this unit the Sport Director will be empowered to understand and learn how feedback often produces an intense threat response in the brain.

Summary of learning:

  • Managing change and innovation in a sports organisation
  • The effects of change on the individual through the lens of neuroscience
  • Structure and innovation, international cultures and innovation. Global innovation networks - examining the role of regional, international and global networks on the innovatory capacity of organisations
  • Developing core competence and absorptive capacity - the mechanisms by which organisations develop the capacity to innovate and change
  • The problems of managing innovation in organisations. Organisational culture - developing cultures that promote innovatory activity
  • Organisational structure and the effective management of innovation. Interconnections between innovation, change and strategic management
  • Roles of external sources in innovation. Formal networks (joint venture and strategic alliances) and informal networks (communities of practice and invisible colleges)
  • The relationships between innovation and sustainability at individual, organisational, industry and societal level. Key opportunities and challenges presented by administrative, economic and socio-technical systems oriented towards sustainability.

Unit Four - Sport Governance and Best Practice

This unit will address the challenges facing the professional sport industry in relation to international developments in recent years. It will also cover the challenges associated with commercial development, establishment and development of European political and economic institutions. Finally, you will also address the global challenges of governance on multi stakeholder organisational interest in sport.

Throughout this unit, you will demonstrate an understanding of neuroscience and its relevance to human performance. Such understanding will enable you to apply neuroscience to how you lead, manage and coach people within the sports organisation.

This unit will also have emphasis on the international sport governance and legal frameworks. In addition, the North American Sport Model will be looked at and analysed. Content will cover a multidisciplinary approach by providing an in-depth analysis of legal, political and economic issues (e.g. competition law, litigation prevention, risk management, regulation and media policy). The unit will focus on current and future key challenges faced by sports organisations (specificity of sport, competitive balance, exploitation of commercial rights, social dialogue, violence, doping, social responsibility).

Summary of learning:

  • International sport governance and legal frameworks
  • Legal, political and economic issues
  • Competition law, litigation prevention, risk management
  • Regulation and media policy
  • Exploitation of commercial rights
  • Violence, doping, social responsibility.

Unit Five - Sporting Directorship in Practice

In this unit, students are expected to identify, structure, frame and investigate a complex managerial or business issue and produce a substantial written document of their achievements and conclusions.

Students may fulfil the requirements of the unit by undertaking one of five types of dissertation:

  • Consultancy-based: Entailing the answering of distinct research questions that are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance to a specific client organisation, mainly by conducting fieldwork (collecting primary data) in the client organisation, with the objective of offering an appropriate short to medium-term solution to the business, and also drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice
  • Empirically-based: Entailing the answering of distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by conducting fieldwork (collecting primary data), with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice
  • Library-based:  Entailing the answering of distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by gathering secondary data and doing a meta-analysis of published interpretations of existing data sets, with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice
  • Action Learning: Entailing the reflective examination and interpretation of a problem-solving 'action intervention' made by the author in his/her organisation through the lens of relevant literature with the objective of demonstrating insights and enhanced managerial competence, and drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice
  • Enterprise-Based Business Plan: entailing developing a business plan for a start-up business, underpinned by secondary data and fieldwork on the proposed business area, with the objective of a possible launch of a small enterprise. The programme is predominantly for existing practitioners in the place management sector.  The place management sector encompasses a range of professions internationally, including town and city centre management, place marketing and branding.  It is increasingly involving civic society and the third sector, through initiatives such as Transition Towns and the Portas Pilots.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at:

Typical entry requirements

It takes a special type of person to take part in the Master of Sport Directorship.  We’re looking for self-starters who possess a rare combination of skills, experience and ambition which provides the foundation for the role of Sports Director.

You may already be working in a sporting environment, for instance: in a medical, coaching, finance or marketing role, and looking for the next crucial step in your sporting career.  The role of Sports Director is appealing because you recognise it’s the way forward in the modern game.

Alternatively, you may already be in a business role and seeking to make the move into sport. If you are looking to use your business skills in a new way, the Master of Sport Directorship is ideally suited to help you adapt your talents.

In addition, this course offers ex-players and sports professionals currently in management a means to acquire the business skills needed to take the step into the position of Sports Director.

Ideally, students should be postgraduate or be able to demonstrate sufficient business experience to Manchester Met Business School.  A first year foundation course is available for those whose qualifications aren’t enough to gain immediate acceptance on the course. This will bring those students up to the required Master's Degree entry level.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How do I apply for this course?

Applications to the course must be made directly.  To apply for the course or find out more, please contact Programme Director Sara Ward on or 0161 247 3431

Career options after the course

The global industry of sport is recognising the need to define the role of a Sports Director. Critical to the programme are the skills and capabilities that students will develop. Such competencies will position students on this course to take a position as a strategic leader in an organisation that harbours human performance at the fore of their company values.

The Master of Sport Directorship programme is working closely with the industry of sport, as well as the corporate world, to position students from the programme to a diverse world which requires innovation and people management as the competitive advantage.

Typical student profile on this course

The course is aimed at self-starters who possess a combination of skills, experience and ambition that provides the foundation for the role of Sport Director.

You may already be working in the sporting environment, e.g. medical, coaching, finance or marketing, and are looking for the next crucial step in your sporting career. This role is appealing to you because you recognise it is the way forward in the modern game. Alternatively, you may already be in a business role and be seeking to make a move into sport.

For ex-players and sports professionals currently in management this course is a means to acquire the necessary business skills to take the step into the position of Sporting Director. 


Course Enquiries

For general enquiries, entry requirements, fees, accommodation and more, please contact the course enquiries team.

Questions about the course content can be answered by the course leader, Miss Stephanie Sturges.

Email or find out more about the course leader

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.