Master of Sport Directorship (MSD)

Prepare for the role of Sports Director. Master areas like performance management and neuroscience to take your career from the pitch to the boardroom.

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We're a double-accredited Business School


Sport business is a £multi-billion, competitive global industry, and it’s growing. The demand has never been higher for professionals with a grounding in governance, commercial acumen and leadership skills. 

If you’re an ex-player or sports management professional, we’ll give you the business skills to reach your full potential. This course will suit you if you’re looking to progress your career or move to the sporting world from business.


Building strategic skills

Our course is the first of its kind and paves the way for future leaders of sport. Studying part time over two years, you’ll develop the expertise to meet the demand of leading sporting organisations.

You’ll cover topics such as sports leadership and personal development, innovation and change, governance and best practice. A real highlight is the study of neuroscience and how it impacts on leadership and performance.

We’ll also expose you to a range of sporting environments. You’ll share knowledge with peers from different backgrounds, and apply new knowledge in your own specialism.

In your second year, you’ll apply your skills to a dissertation. We’ll challenge you to identify, research and strategically analyse a managerial or business issue within your organisation or in an area of your own interest.

Features and Benefits

  • A global city for sport – study in one of the UK’s greatest sporting cities, home to two top Premier League sides, an international cricket ground and a renowned velodrome.
  • Masterclass Series – this series brings experts in from the industry. Past speakers include Head of communications at British Cycling, CEO Essex Cricket Club and the Development Director at the FA.
  • Pioneering – it’s the world’s first qualification of its kind. Be part of a select group of individuals who are the most qualified Sporting Directors in the world.
  • Backed by science – we delve into the science of performance management to help you understand how to understand and improve business performance.
  • Learn from the experts – the MSD teaching team have a wealth of experience in areas such as leadership, neuroscience, team performance, innovation, change and governance.
  • Executive Coaching – we offer all our students the chance to have an Executive Coach. Coaching is a valued approach to individual development and is becoming a well-established practice in business.
  • Endorsed by industry – the teaching on this course is endorsed by the England Rugby League, Premiership Rugby and Rugby Football League.
  • Diverse community – from grass roots to high profile professionals, we welcome people from all aspects of sport. This course also suits business owners wanting to grow their company.
  • A world of opportunities – we’ll help you prepare for director level roles in global organisations. Think premier league clubs, Olympics, FIFA and more.
“The staff here are very supportive, and clearly very knowledgeable. They have organised several high calibre external speakers too, which have really enhanced my time on the course.” David Parsons, Performance Director for the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

"We’re at the heart of shaping sports governance. We get that real world understanding from our partnerships with global sporting organisations such as UEFA and Manchester City Football Club.”

Professor Donna Lee, Head of Department.

Career Prospects

We want to help you step up to the boardroom and prepare for the world of business. Working closely with the industry, we prepare students to think innovatively and manage people effectively.
After you graduate, you’ll be qualified for the position of Sporting Director. For many of our students, this means a promotion or a move into a more senior role within a sporting organisation.
The skills you develop will help you become a strategic leader in organisations that harbour human performance at the forefront of their company values.
There are many areas of sports that are looking for skilled directors to take their teams and businesses to the next level – from football and rugby, to athletics and F1.


Learn more about graduate careers

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.

Course details

You will study five units across the two years:

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.

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: Dissertation

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.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A Masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Department of People and Performance

Our People and Performance Department brings together industry leading professionals and academics with specialisms in strategy, innovation, enterprise, human resource management, entrepreneurship and sports management.

The department provides academic leadership for a broad undergraduate and postgraduate portfolio, providing real-life business expertise underpinned by cutting-edge business management theory.

More about the department

Taught by experts

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.

Meet our expert staff


Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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Want to know more?

How to apply

Applications to the course must be made directly.  To apply for the course or find out more, please contact Donna Ward (email  or telephone 0161 247 6078)


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

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. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
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All higher education providers registered with the OfS must have a student protection plan in place. The student protection plan sets out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. Access our current Student Protection Plan.