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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

Why study Professional Development: Sports Officiating?

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.

Upcoming open days and webinars

We'll be running events for you to find out more about Professional Development: Sports Officiating MSc on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 22nd March 2023, 1pm

  • Wednesday 5th April 2023, 6.30pm

  • Wednesday 10th May 2023, 6.30pm

  • Wednesday 21st June 2023, 1pm

  • Wednesday 19th July 2023, 6.30pm

Course lead

Mike Gilham
Subject Lead - Football and Performance Analysis

Entry requirements

2:2 Previous degree

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

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 (or equivalent).

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

Further information

For more information about entry requirements please email

Course content


  •  Core (Non-Degree Entrance Students)
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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.

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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How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

Studying this degree full-time will take 12 months. The duration of part-time study is either 24 or 36 months.

The programme is delivered through our bespoke online learning platform and ‘touch-point’ sessions where the group can attend on-campus sessions. Attendance at these sessions is not mandatory as these activities will be captured and made available online to students. However, attendance is encouraged to provide you with an opportunity to network, collaborate and have individual tutorials with academic staff.

All weeks will be delivered online, and each module has a number of activities to complete, with each activity encompassing a set of learning tasks. We generally advise that students spend 2-4 hours per week per module.

The programme utilises a variety of teaching methods to enable you to learn from practical and theoretical perspectives. These include:

  • pre-recorded lectures
  • coach/player video analyses and feedback
  • discussion forums
  • quizzes
  • collaborative group tasks
  • case studies
  • presentations

There will also be online conferences and knowledge exchange events that students will be invited to attend. Frequent webinars and guest speakers from the world of officiating, development and leadership and academia will enhance your learning and demonstrate how the content of the degree can be applied.

We will also organise an online induction in September to welcome and prepare you for the course. In addition, we will allocate a personal tutor to guide you academically and provide support throughout your studies with us.

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


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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

September 2023

  • Home: £10,500
  • International: £16,800

The tuition fees listed are for the duration of the course. Students will be charged for the modules undertaken per academic year. Module prices are calculated as a percentage of credits against the total credits and cost of the degree. Please see clause 5.15.2 of the Tuition Fee Regulations for further information.

Tuition fees are subject to an inflationary increase each year, meaning if your course runs over more than one academic year you may pay an increased fee per module for each subsequent year of study. Tuition fee increases for returning students will be capped at the higher of 5% per annum or the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in the United Kingdom.

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.

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

Teaching staff

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Further information