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Professional Practice: Sport for Development

We have worked in partnership with Active Communities Network (ACN) to develop this degree for people with experience in the sport for development sector.

Now recruiting for September 2021 start.​​

​This unique course comprises business and leadership elements (planning, finance and marketing) with youth work, crime and sport-based modules, and encourages reflection and critical thinking. The staff team comprises a unique blend of skills and expertise, enabling learners to specialise in their areas of interest, whilst gaining a comprehensive academic experience.

Developing the workforce for sustainability is key, and this course is designed to support learners in their application of theory to practice, by providing learning experiences and work placements supported by Active Communities Network, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the wider network of partner agencies delivering across the sector both in the UK and overseas.

Students are encouraged to contextualise and situate their learning within their workplace environments in order that they can reflect upon the issues that people and communities face, and the way in which their knowledge and capabilities as leaders of change can impact these communities.

We want you to make the most of your time at the University and to enjoy the best possible student experience. Our aim is to accompany and guide you each step of the way. As a student you will explore new knowledge and ideas, conserve some of the old and then transform your professional practice. Throughout the duration of the course students have the support of a personal tutor who acts as a consistent point of contact for any questions, or issues they need to discuss. This support, alongside the interaction that students have with the tutors on each of their modules provides an environment where students feel connected and supported on the academic journey.


The course comprises the following modules, each of which carries either 15 or 30 academic credits:

Level 4 (Year 1)

  • Understanding Organisations
  • Marketing Principles
  • Communities and Development
  • Sport, Society and Young People
  • Young People and the Justice System

Level 5 (Year 2)

  • Practice of Leadership in Organisation
  • Marketing Management
  • Research Methods
  • Community and Development
  • Ethics and Sport
  • Professional Practice and Development (Level 5)
  • Young People and Society

Level 6 (Year 3)

  • Building and Sustaining Strategy
  • Dissertation
  • Communities and Development 2
  • Professional Practice and Development (Level 6)
  • Young People and Society 2

‘I’ve been working in community sport and youth work for a long time. I am really glad I enrolled in this course. The lectures and format of the course helps me apply theory to my practice. The variety of modules provided me with greater insight and understanding of organisational management and everything that is needed to progress my career further in the sport for development sector’
Earl McNeish, Progressions Co-ordinator, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.

Study style​

The course is delivered via 2-day block teaching and web based support. Students attend the University for eight teaching blocks over the year, spread between September and July. Guest Lecturers and Teaching Fellows from the sector support learners and provide insight into the day-to-day operations of charity and NGO operations, funders, stakeholders and organisational management.​​

Industry links

This course provides experiences and work placements supported by Active Communities Network and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Active Communities Network has been a long standing strategic partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Collectively, they implement new approaches and develop an evidence base and library of research in using sport to develop communities, with an emphasis on supporting children and young people.

Entry requirements

In order to recognise the diverse backgrounds and experiences that prospective students bring, course entry includes a formal interview. For those prospective candidates who have not experienced a traditional route into higher education, we have prepared the following guide to assess suitability for course entry:

  • Strong reference from employer / organisation with credible background in sport for development, youth work or community development.
  • Evidence a drive and ambition to be an innovator and leader in the sport for development field
  • Experience of working in challenging communities / with at risk groups of young people
  • Evidence of transferable skills
  • Higher level vocational qualifications (Level three) or strong A level grades

Contact us

If you are an organisation seeking ways to develop the skills, knowledge and leadership capabilities of your workforce, or an individual working in this area who is looking to develop your practitioner skills and experience along a leadership and management pathway, we would be delighted to hear from you. 

We can arrange to discuss the course by telephone, email, via Skype or Facetime. Likewise, we would be delighted to welcome you to the University of Gloucestershire if you wish to visit to get a feel for the campus and meet us in person.

For more information and to have an initial conversation about the course itself and about studying at the University of Gloucestershire, please contact:

Philip Shirfield (Academic Course Leader - Professional Practice: Sport for Development):
01242 715325


Dr Pauline Williams (Academic Subject Leader - Sports Leadership, Education and Society):
01242 714462



The School of Sport and Exercise...

The University of Gloucestershire possesses high quality academic, coaching and sport science staff and students, as well as first-class facilities and educational resources.


Active Communities Network (ACN)...

Building the skills and capacity of sports coaches, youth and community workers to support disadvantaged communities.

Visit the Active Communities Network​​​ for more information.​