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St Mary's University

Professional Development: Sports Officiating MSc

Previous degree


Distance learning available


Student visa accepted?



1 year (full-time), 2/3 years (part-time)

The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023 - Top 10 for Student ExperienceThe Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023 - Top 5 for Teaching Quality

Our Sports Officiating specialist pathway has been designed for practising sports officials, those with an interest in sports officiating and sports management professionals worldwide

  • Access to industry partners through course collaboration, knowledge sharing and continued professional development opportunities, including Sports Officials UK, The Referees’ Association and the Surrey FA
  • Flexible learning allows you to study at your own pace around your professional role
  • Access to academic staff involved in world-leading research and high-level consultancy

This Sports Officiating Master's degree ideal for anybody with an interest in sports officiating. This includes:

  • Practising officials who are seeking to develop their skills,
  • Referee and umpire development leaders and executives who wish to offer their officials contemporary insight into training and progression
  • Academics who wish to pursue the investigation of sports officials as their chosen field of interest.

The degree aims to enhance not only your critical understanding of the sports official’s role, but also your research and application of training and development regarding sports officials. The course content has been carefully constructed following consultation with our partners and senior academics.

Sports Officiating is a fast-growing, contemporary area of interest, with 50% of research in this area having been completed between 2015 and 2020!

Why St Mary's

This Sports Officiating course is taught by nationally and internationally renowned academics and specialist staff.

Teaching staff on the degree include academics undertaking research related to sports officiating. For instance, Stuart Carrington has published a book titled Blowing the Whistle: The Psychology of Football Refereeing.

The applied nature of the course ensures that you continually reflect on the course content in your professional practice.

Mike Gilham

Subject Lead - Football and Performance Analysis

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Course content


The modules listed below are the modules that were available to students in the 2022/23 academic year and are illustrative of what may be offered for 2023/24. 

Please note: it is possible that a module listed on the website will not be able to run due to reasons beyond our control. For more information please refer to our course information disclaimer.

Contemporary Approaches to Professional Development

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 degree or international equivalent, preferably in a sports-related subject.


Previous degree

Additional requirement information

We invite applications from individuals with a high level or experience in the field of officiating, whether as a practicing official or as a stakeholder in the development of officials. We will review each application on merit.

Applicants are encouraged to hold or have the intention to work towards, an NGB L3 coaching award or international equivalent qualification and demonstrate continued commitment to coaching or professional practice.

Non-degree entrance

Applicants without formal degree level qualifications, but with significant relevant work or playing experience are encouraged to apply. We will assess your suitability and any support you may need for the non-degree entrance through a two-step process. For more information please check our entrance task details.

Non-degree entrants will have to take an additional module (Academic Introduction to Professional Development) in the summer before the degree begins. This module is not assessed and is designed to help prepare you for your academic studies.

Please note: the deadline for non-degree entrance will not be able to apply after the summer module begins.

International Requirements

International students should check our country-specific pages for equivalents. If English is not your first language you will need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in any section.

We now accept IELTS Indicator test results as proof of your English language level.

Further Information

For more information about entry requirements please email

Fees & funding






Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme. Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken.

For further information about additional costs please see our additional costs webpage

Alumni discount

A 20% tuition fee discount is available for our alumni (undergraduate and PGCE) planning to study this Master's degree. Those studying for a PGDip of PGCert are not eligible for the discount.


Government-funded loans of over £11,000 are available to many home postgraduate students. Home and international students may also be eligible for external sources of funding.  International students should check their eligibility for our International Scholarship.

For more information, please look at our postgraduate funding page.

How the degree is taught

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

Assessment methods on the course deviate from traditional ideas, the main aim for assessments is to capture learning within the realms of your professional contexts. 

Some of the assessment methods utilised on the programme are as follows:

  • Practical workshops
  • Critical evaluation
  • Presentations
  • Position statement
  • Critical reflection

Career opportunities

As an MSc Professional Development with a specialism in Sports Officiating graduate, you will be highly sought after by employers in a rapidly growing market both nationally and globally.

With half of the academic research into sports officials occurring in the last five years, there is tremendous scope for future roles to be created for those with a bespoke specialism in sports officiating.

Employment areas include:

  • Practising officiating roles
  • Training and management roles in sports officiating
  • Senior management roles at local and national sporting organisations
  • Sports development officers
  • Head of sport
  • Disciplinary lead
  • Safeguarding roles
  • A variety of roles that rely on responsibility and integrity (such as the armed forces or emergency services)

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