Online learning that puts sport’s future leaders on the right course

The Centre for Sports Business at The University of Liverpool Management School’s MSc online programme delivers a comprehensive syllabus with the challenges of tomorrow in mind.

From good governance to marketing and technology to sustainability, sport’s leaders of the future must be equipped with expertise across a range of established, emerging and inter-related areas if they are to progress within an evolving sector.

This requirement for an increasingly broad skillset within an increasingly complex industry has helped to shape the comprehensive syllabus of the MSc Sport Business and Management Online programme at the Centre for Sports Business at The University of Liverpool Management School.


Launched two years ago, the 30-month online course features eight modules plus a work-based or research project. The eight topics cover the global context of the sports business, marketing and sponsorship, leadership, strategy and governance, business analytics, finance, operations and events, and sports business in practice.

The final dissertation enables students to undertake in-depth research into a topic of their choice that could be work-related or an area of the sports industry they want to move into – or simply just an area of interest.

Sue Minten, Director of Studies

“Looking at the syllabus, we wanted to ensure a broad foundation of knowledge to provide students with a holistic view of the sports industry and sports organisations. Plus, we wanted to ensure we met the UK subject benchmarks for sport and business management,” says Sue Minten, Director of Studies for the Sports Business and Management MSc and a Senior Lecturer.

“Each module has been designed by an academic expert in that topic area who delivers teaching on campus and has a strong understanding of what is needed to be covered from an academic perspective. We have also designed our sport business programmes in consultation with experts from the sport industry to ensure module content is appropriate to the industry.

“The university approval process also involves scrutiny from external sports management academics from other UK universities offering sports management programmes to ensure programme and module content is appropriate in terms of depth and breadth for a Masters-level Sports Business and Management MSc.”


The online course is delivered on a part-time basis, with the next cohort beginning in October this year. Students are required to complete every module and gain 180 credits to achieve a Master of Science award, 120 credits to achieve the postgraduate diploma (PG Dip), and 60 to achieve the postgraduate certificate (PG Cert).

The development of the course began in the summer of 2019, well before the push towards online studies that was accelerated by the following year’s pandemic.

The Centre for Sports Business academic team develops all the content, interactive activities and assignments, with partner Kaplan Learning Technologists then taking these materials and bringing them to life through bespoke animations, videos and more via their dynamic learning platform.

The delivery of the module is primarily asynchronous, which means students have flexibility in when they choose to study during an eight-week module. However, there is also a structure that ensures those who are in work know what their weekly requirements will be to keep pace with the programme.

“We made the deliberate decision not to include synchronous live lectures and seminars as this reduces flexibility – thus the asynchronous materials include bite-size lecture casts which have been developed and voiced by the academic experts at Liverpool,” Minten says.


Alongside this, each module has an online tutor that provides ongoing feedback on virtual activities and is available for one-to-one appointments as required by the student. The tutors also deliver live group sessions for each module that can be repeated, if needed, for students in different time zones.

Minten adds: “Module tutors are faculty members at the University of Liverpool, but primarily teach the online programmes. The modules are continuously reviewed in terms of student and faculty feedback on completion and we also have a staff-student liaison committee that meets every three months.

“Being in a triple-accredited management school means that we must ensure we focus on the business and management disciplines of sport whilst other programmes elsewhere entitled ‘sport management’ may include modules that are not necessarily so focused.

“My experience of the industry is that it is dynamic and constantly evolving so currently sports analytics, responsible leadership/good governance and sustainability are critical topics for study. Although I think these trends are probably with us for the foreseeable future, new trends will emerge – for example, we are seeing increasing interest in esports in our on-campus students – thus we need to be constantly monitoring the environment to ensure module tutors are able to reflect current issues.”


The breadth of topics covered is matched by the diversity of the students enrolled for the most recent intake, with three-quarters of those who embarked on the course coming from outside the UK.

The course is open to those with a minimum of a 2:1 class degree in any subject, equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, or professional work experience in a related field or other prior qualifications, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

All of the students within the current intake are already in work for a variety of teams, leagues, venues, national and international sports federations, organisations and other businesses, including health and fitness and sports facility management.

With entrants juggling their work responsibilities with their studies, the Centre for Sports Business puts great emphasis on academic and pastoral support for its busy students.

“If students have any issues with regard to academic issues or personal issues that may impact their studies, there is a bespoke online team that provide support in study skills, the online library, careers and welfare,” Minten adds. “We have had great feedback from students on how helpful they have found the student support team.”

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