The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Entry date

Offering performance management expertise and unparalleled insights into Scotland’s Sports Performance centre, this degree equips you with skills to successfully lead a team of coaches and specialist practitioners at the pinnacle of sports performance.



Management and Leadership in Sports Performance will help you pursue a sports management job where the focus of your role is to lead a group of specialists towards the shared goal of improving sporting performance. 

Developing an effective team made up of talented individuals is key to delivering sustained success in sport and, as global investment continues to grow, organisations and teams are recruiting a greater number of specialists to help prepare athletes for the rigours of competition.

This is a Specialist MSc

MSc Management and Leadership in Sports Performance is a Specialist MSc programme led by academics at the Edinburgh Business School and practitioners in Oriam: Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre. It gives those who have worked in industry or studied a similar subject previously, the chance to expand, refine and enhance their knowledge. 

This 1-year Masters programme focuses almost entirely on the area of Performance Management and Leadership in Sport. It blends cutting-edge academic thinking with best practice from industry to give graduates and professionals the opportunity to advance with a highly employable skillset.

A unique collaboration

This programme will teach you how to positively impact performance by managing the information that comes from multifaceted specialisms and by leading individuals effectively within a high performance environment.

Through collaboration between the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University and Oriam: Scotland's Sports Performance Centre, you will have the opportunity to learn from leading researchers and industry experts in sport, business management and psychology. Successful managers, coaches and performance directors must develop skills in a range of disciplines to get the best out of their staff and athletes, which is why this Programme combines bespoke courses in sports performance management with options from business management and psychology. This unique structure allows those with an interest in managing sporting performance to benefit from a multifaceted programme of study.

You will develop the skills to analyse and interpret performance data in sport and learn how to implement robust competitive strategies and tailored approaches to talent development. You will become well versed in the skills required for roles such as Head Coach, Performance Director or Head of Department in a successful sporting organisation.   

Oriam: Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre

Oriam is Scotland’s national sports performance centre and acts as a base for the Scottish Football Association, Scottish Rugby Union, Basketball Scotland, Scottish Squash and Racquetball, Scottish Handball and many other elite teams as they prepare for competition on the international stage. The top of the range facilities at Oriam include Europe’s largest indoor synthetic pitch with seating for 500 spectators, a medical area, a strength and conditioning gym, Hydrotherapy pool and multipurpose sports hall.

Oriam is located on the Heriot-Watt Edinburgh campus which provides the ideal environment for sporting organisations and athletes to forge links with the academic community. This enables us to create new knowledge and develop innovative initiatives that push the boundaries of human performance.

Meet the Programme Leader 

Neil Gibson is the Director of Sport, Performance and Health at Oriam where he manages a team of specialist practitioners and coaches who work directly with high performance athletes in football, rugby, squash and athletics. With time working for top universities, including Heriot-Watt, and sporting organisations such as the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Rugby Union, Neil brings a wealth of real-world and academic experience to our Management and Leadership in Sport programmes.

After studying for Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees in Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University Neil spent eight years working as the Head of Sport Science for Heart of Midlothian Football Club, a period of success which included victory in the Scottish Cup and qualification to the UEFA Champions League.  

Neil has held consultant roles with GB Water Polo and Scotland Rugby League and has contributed to postgraduate courses at a number of Universities within the UK. 

He is a published academic, an accredited High Performance Physiologist with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists, and an accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach with the UK Strength and Conditioning Association.

He is currently the Sport Scientist for the Scotland national football team and continues to work with the Scottish Squash team as they prepare for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games following a successful Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Detailed course information

Course content

Detailed course guide

Semester 1


Semester 1 (Mandatory)

Through this course you will develop a clear understanding around the role of leadership within business and examine the link between effective & appropriate leadership and a successful organisational strategy.

Pacing strategies: understanding workload management in business and sport

Semester 1 (Mandatory)

This course will introduce you to workload management strategies and teach you how to formulate appropriate work plans for yourself and for those you manage. You will learn how to assess performance against validated targets and learn to manage workload and wellbeing to optimise motivation and effectiveness in a high performance environment. 

Interpreting performance data in sport

Semester 1 (Mandatory)

This course will introduce you to the strategies and practical skills needed to effectively analyse and interpret performance data relating to teams and individuals.  You will learn how to apply reliable and robust analytical processes to large data sets with the aim of devising useful outcomes to improve performance. The data sets used will cover a range of disciplines including musculoskeletal screening, physiological variables, performance analysis and technical performance.

Semester 1: optional courses

  • Competitive Strategy
  • Strategic Change
  • Psychology of Coaching
  • Social and Organisational Change

Semester 2

Research philosophy and practice

Semester 2 (Mandatory)

This course outlines the central theories and approaches to research in the social sciences. You will learn practical techniques for quantitative and qualitative data analysis, allowing you to transform raw data into information to guide conclusions and strategy.

Developing a performance pathway

Semester 2 (Mandatory)

Using real world case-studies taken from business and sport this course will introduce you to the theoretical and practical concepts behind successful long-term development plans which aim to improve the performance of teams and individuals. You will learn to implement reliable and valid monitoring procedures and analyse progress so you can set appropriate challenges to encourage individuals and teams to develop new skills and achieve set objectives. 

Problem based learning in performance sport

Semester 2 (Mandatory)

This course will teach you to interpret data collected on athletes and teams so you can formulate strategies to positively impact future performance. The real-world, case study approach to this course will highlight the multiple stakeholders involved in delivering performance strategies and show how each specialism interacts throughout the preparation process. Guest lecturers will outline the challenges facing practitioners working across areas of high performance sport such as Strength and Conditioning, Team Management, Medical Services and Sport Science.

Semester 2 optional courses

  • Systems Thinking and Analysis
  • Human Resource Management 
  • Developing Diversity in Business

Semester 3

Research dissertation in relevant field of research. 

Entry requirements

A good Honours degree (first or second class, or equivalent) in Sport Science, Sports Management, Sports Psychology, or a related discipline.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability.

The minimum English language requirement for entry to this programme is IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component lower than 6.0.

If you do not have IELTS 6.5, we offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement for this programme prior to commencing your studies:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum 5.5 in all skills)


Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time Part-time Per course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £7400 £3700 £925**
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £7400 £3700 £925**
Overseas £16400 £8200 £2050**

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.