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BA (Hons) Football Development & Coaching

Work with local partners to build a global career in football.

Earn football coaching qualifications

Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCC or above.

Or BTEC triple grades MMM or above.

Or Access 23-45 D/M with min 6D.

And GCSE English Language at grade 4 or grade C or above.

Applicants with other qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis.

UCAS points 96

UCAS code S3H6

Duration 3 years full-time

How to apply for this course

Course Summary

This course is packed with real-life, hands-on experience, allowing you plenty of opportunity to put theory into practice. We work closely with our partners, Plymouth Argyle Football Club’s Argyle Community Trust, to ensure that you have the very best learning experience, with sessions delivered by both academic staff, and industry professionals.

You’ll consider the role of football within the wider sports industry, applying your learning to real-life situations through football development projects, coaching, and performance analysis.

You will run football development programmes, organise events, and develop a critical understanding of how the football industry works. You will gain skills and experiences to improve your communication, leadership, and teamwork, alongside developing research and evaluation skills. You will have the chance to gain an array of industry-recognised football coaching qualifications. The University is able to fund coach education awards from FA Level, 1 Level 2, and UEFA B. Awards will be matched to your level of experience and expertise. The UEFA B licence is for experienced coaches and subject to a successful application with Devon FA. The UEFA B licence is a minimum qualification to coach at a professional football club academy. Coaching awards will boost your employability and give you a richer variety of experiences.

You will consider and debate many football-related topics including issues affecting coaches, general administration, development and governance of football as a whole. You will also be introduced to the application of sport science principles, performance analysis, and football event management and their role in the successful development of football programmes and initiatives.

This degree is part of a pilot scheme with the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) which ensures it meets professional standards required by employers in the sport and physical activity sector.

Show video transcript

Ryan: There's a few football degrees around the country. I think what's different about ours is the coach education is embedded within the course. They get the industry-recognized qualifications alongside the academic degree. But primarily it's the formalized link with the football club, so it's a formal partnership where staff come in and deliver sessions here alongside academic staff. So there's a really good balance between the theory and the industry practice. Working with Argyle Community Trust is fantastic for us on the football degree because it means our students are exposed to lots of coaching environments and football development opportunities out there in the real world whilst they study. So instead of doing a degree and then waiting to build networks with vital contacts in the industry, they're able to do it whilst they study, which means that upon graduation, they're ready just to go into the working world straight away.

Cassandra: I actually did some work experience for Argyle Community Trust. That then enabled me to get a job with them. So at the moment, I work for them, assisting under 16 girls team. While I'm assisting them, and I love it. I got that through coming to university, getting the connections with the people at Our Argyle Community Trust I'll go commit each of, because they're actually in a partnership with us here. So it was a great opportunity-wise to like get experience, foot in the door sort of thing. Through here, I've then gone on to do my football level one. And then I got my disability badge coming up, so I'll be doing that as well through Marjon University.

Patrick: I do like that we have a couple of practical courses, which are really good. So we do a biomechanics course and I was never one to really like physics, but I enjoy watching how that, working out how the body moves and how we can that's our ourselves dependent on form or whatever we do.

Daniel: The best three years that I did. I started late, so I didn't go straight into university from college. But then decided after doing various jobs, I wanted to go to university, and the football coach and development one was the one that hit me that I wanted to do the most. It's not very often that you can get a professional football club like Argyle at work alongside the university. So you get the hands-on experience of the theory side with the football coaching development, as well as the practical within the Argyle Community Trust. So you can take what you learn in the theory, and then you recognize it when you go and work for the trust, that is actually quite helpful.

Why this course at Marjon?

Our close partnerships with Plymouth Argyle’s Community Trust and Devon FA give you real world experience of working in football.

You'll gain recognised coaching qualifications as well as your degree, these include FA level 1 and 2, coaching disabled footballers, SCUK Safeguarding and Street Games qualifications.

You’ll go on field trips that take you behind-the-scenes to explore how professional football clubs are run.

100 hours of work placement experience develops your skills for the football and sports sectors.

A work placement develops your skills and employability for the football and sports sectors.

A Licence FA Coaches, FA Coach Mentors, and ex-professional footballers make up the teaching team, along with our experienced professionals from Plymouth Argyle’s Community Trust.

Students say...

Abbie Burrows

“The links the lecturers have for trips out and guest speakers help so much and give us different ways to coach. It is great to hear the experience of people who are working in football. Prior to this I was a part time football coach at different clubs and I thought I was the perfect manager but this course has showed me that there is so much more to coaching. It helped me to become a better manager as I’ve learnt so much which is so useful to use in my own career development.”

Jake Taylor-Lewis

“My favourite part of the course is the practical sessions, the majority of which are student led. Being able to take concepts from lectures and apply them into sessions for my peers has helped me improve my coaching massively. Whether you are already coaching or have never tried it before, the friendly environment in the practical sessions is great for receiving feedback that can immediately be put into practice. And, being a football coaching course, we play a lot of football which is fun.”

George Roberts

“I’ve applied theory into practice through coaching within Plymouth Argyle’s community programmes and their Academy set up. Non-coaching modules, such as sports marketing, are very valuable in terms of broadening my knowledge. I have really enjoyed the events management module so far as I have been able to practically help deliver events and I’m currently in the process of planning and running an event in partnership with Plymouth Argyle Community Trust and Devon FA.”

This course is perfect if you're curious about

What are the secrets of the football industry beyond what we see on TV?

Why are there not more women in football? Why are there not openly gay players in the Premier League?

Why does so much Premier League money end up in the pockets of players and agents? How could more money go to community football?

How could I increase participation in football?

What makes a great football coach? Are technical skills more important than personal relationships?

Is football a force for good to bring people together, or does it cause division?

We’re delighted to support students through placements, guest lectures and events in this rare opportunity to be involved at the heart of professional organisations and clubs such as ours, which significantly improves their CVs and career prospects.
Chris French - Development Manager at Devon FA

What might you become?

Graduates have the opportunity to work in professional football clubs, commercial coaching providers, the charitable sector or in the public sector for local authorities, within schools, school sport partnerships or county sport partnerships. A number of our graduates now work for the FA and Plymouth Argyle Community Trust in a variety of football development, social inclusion (disability football, women and girls football), football coaching, and educational roles.  Some students have gone on to take postgraduate teaching qualifications to become primary or secondary teachers. Given the global nature of the football industry the world really is your oyster!


Dan Yeoman

“I enjoy coaching football as well as teaching the students and still having a close link to Marjon. University helped me to develop personally and professionally. My experience helped me learn through both the academic and social aspects. I developed my interpersonal skills and learned a variety of teaching and coaching styles that I can now apply in my role at the club. I’m able to use this to guide my own students towards university and to support them individually.”

Dan is now a Sports Tutor and Coach at Argyle Community Trust

Sam Barton

“On a day to day role what is not to love about my job? Working in a professional football club while giving back to the community, changing and improving lives. From football finance to practical coaching, the three-year course covered a variety of modules. As part of my degree, I completed my work experience at the Plymouth Argyle, this gave me all the experience I needed on the social inclusion side and which was very beneficial when I applied for a job here.”

Sam is Lead Inclusion Coach at Argyle Community Trust.

Rhys Hannon

“This course, partnered with Argyle Community Trust allowed me to learn my trade with a professional football club. I also gained the opportunity to work with the Community Trust whilst studying at uni which helped bridge the gap from uni life to full time employment. This was beneficial to me and allowed me to show potential employers exactly what I can do. Once I completed my university course, I got a full time job at the Argyle Community Trust and have since been promoted as well.”

Rhys is now Monitoring & Evaluation Lead at Argyle Community Trust.

In partnership with:

Plymouth Argyle Community Trust

Devon FA

Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

"During the first year you’ll learn how sport is managed from grassroots through to elite level. You will also learn about football in the community and how analysis is used in football coaching. In the second year you will undertake a work placement, learn about sport event management and have the option to select some modules based on your interests. Your third year involves looking more in-depth at elite level sport while also learning what it takes to be an elite coach and performer."
Phil Brown - Course Leader


1st Year

Football in the Community
You’ll engage with football development programmes aimed at community groups. Experts from Devon FA and Argyle Community Trust teach aspects of the module so you meet professionals working in the field of community football. You will consider specific target groups such as women and girls, disability football, and new forms of the game, such as Walking Football.
Sport Coaching and the Coaching Process
You will develop understanding of the coaching fundamentals of planning, conducting and evaluating. You will develop theoretical knowledge of the coaching process and through practical activities will develop your skills and confidence to deliver coaching sessions.
Introducing Analysis in Sport Coaching
The module applies scientific principles to the observation and analysis of fundamental movement skills understanding how they are acquired and built into complex movement patterns. You will apply this understanding of skill acquisition in a variety of coaching contexts and use ICT systems to analyse sports performance.
Foundations in Sport Development
You’ll explore sport development from community to elite level. Learning how sport and football contributes to wider society issues, such as inclusion, health and physical activity. You will gain a Street Games Activator qualification and visit the London Olympic Park.
Introduction to the Management of Sport
As the sport sector continues to grow so do the requirements to manage it. You will study the organisation of sport, being introduced to marketing, accounting and economics, communications/public relations, human resourcing, performance, strategy and event management.
Engaging with Learning: Football Development & Coaching
This module has two main functions. To give you the academic skills to succeed in your degree and to ensure you start to develop your career plans in football so you maximise the opportunities through the three years of your degree.

2nd Year

Engaging with Employability: Football Development and Coaching
Through this module you’ll spend up to 100 hours working in the football industry. You can shape the placement to meet your area of interest working practically as a coach or developing projects as agreed with the placement host. Students benefit from placement with Plymouth Argyle Community Trust and Devon FA.
Sports Event Management
Students will engage with theoretical knowledge of sports event management considering small scale, major, and mega events. Students will deliver two small scale events. The first in semester A with the Plymouth Schools Partnership. The second in semester B where small groups of students will form event teams and work in partnership with an industry client to deliver a specific football event.
Research Methods*
This module aims to develop critical consumers and generators of research. The focus and emphasis of the module is on structured inquiry-based learning. You will learn how to generate appropriate research and learn when, how, and why, to use different research methods to investigate football based research inquiry.
Sport Policy and Governance
Students consider a range of Government policy areas that impact on sport and recreation provision in the UK. In particular you’ll consider how government policy shapes the direction and scope of policy in sport, education, health and physical activity, and it impacts on the sports and football industry.
Sport and Education
Students will consider the links between the Physical Education National Curriculum (NCPE) and sports provision outside schools; the role of selected external agencies in providing support for schools/colleges/universities to raise participation; the impact of current and previous education-based initiatives; and the significant policy changes that impact on Sport in Education. Through practical activities you will experience a range of alternative activities which have been introduced into the PE curriculum.
Sport Marketing*
You will learn fundamental concepts, principles and techniques involved in the marketing of sport and football within a national and international context. Through case studies and assessments you’ll develop a marketing plan for football organisation or event.
Practical Aspects of Performance Analysis in Sport
You will further enhance your understanding of the varying concepts of sports analysis, and their importance to the coaching process. You will engage in both theory and practice to investigate the importance of observation, video analysis and feedback in enhancing sports performance.
Applied Sport Science for Sport and Physical Education
You will consider fundamental concepts and principles of biomechanics, physiology, and psychology. Each discipline is applied to coaching and PE. Students use the sport science laboratory equipment and testing protocols applied to coaching and PE.
Coaching Theory & Practice*
You will further develop your understanding of the coaching process and the role of the coach. You will study coaching models, principles, philosophy, coaching behaviour and coaching styles. You will apply theoretical knowledge to planning effective practical coaching activities.
Inclusion in Sport
You will develop a critical understanding of the principle of inclusion that underpins contemporary sport development practice and associated coach and teacher education. The module considers the social and cultural basis of exclusion, including gender, ethnicity, and disability. The module is delivered to include practical adaptation, modification and the delivery of inclusive activities.
Independent Study
The independent study is available to students who are passionate about studying their own project instead of one of the taught modules. It involves working with a tutor on the identification of an appropriate topic. You then complete an agreed project with support from your project tutor.

3rd Year

Honours Project
You will selected a topic you are interested in that relates to your Football Development and Coaching degree. You are required to develop and execute this projects as agreed with your Tutor. You are expected to source and synthesize relevant academic literature; apply relevant theoretical concepts; you may collect primary data, and you will interpret and analyse key finding. You will share your honours project via a written report and present at a student conference.
Strategic Sport Development
Those who work in sport operate in constantly changing world in which organisations and their leaders need to identify and respond to local, national and international change if they are to survive and thrive. You will learn the key principles and processes of strategic management in sports organisations and the internal and external business environments in which they operate in order to gain a competitive advantage. You will conduct a strategic analysis of a sport organisation of your choice.
Sport and Excellence
You will learn about the various organisations and individuals involved in the development and practice of elite sport within an international context. The module is split into 4 definite ‘blocks’ of learning, comprising of governmental support for elite sport (including the role of national sports organisations); funding of elite sport (including an analysis of comparative funding models); coaching of elite performers (including athlete development models and talent identification); and finally an opportunity to see excellence in practice through visits to high performance coaching centres.
Pedagogy in Practice
Pedagogy is about understanding the principles of effective teaching and learning. You will be able to organise and manage groups to enhance learning and skill development. Understand the National Curriculum for Physical Education and Key Stage requirements. Consider national priorities in education, including Literacy and Numeracy. The module also introduces the Teachers’ Standards and prepares students for Post Graduate study and careers in teaching.
Performance Coaching
You will learn about the characteristics of expert performers; both athletes and coaches; The environment and climate required to develop expertise in oneself and in others; The aims, methods and objectives of coaching sessions and programmes for developing expertise; Career planning and development for performance coaches.
Applied Resource Management
You will bring together academic and applied components in football development and who are passionate about studying their own project instead of one of the taught modules. It involves working with a tutor on the identification of an appropriate topic. You then complete an agreed project with some support from your tutor.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £12,000 per annum

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Includes lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical coaching experience. You’ll study 6 modules per year and will complete a 100 hour placement.

How will you be assessed?

You’ll write essays, give presentations, produce reports and there is the odd exam. You’ll be assessed on your delivery skills, in coaching, at events, and on placement.

Course leader

Dr Phil Brown

Phil has worked in the sports industry for over 20 years. He worked in sport development on a variety of local and national projects before moving into Higher Education in 2006. He’s led the development of this football degree and developed the partnerships with Plymouth Argyle Community Trust and Devon Football Association. As a dad to two young boys he’s involved in grass roots football too.

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Aaron Cusack

Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching and Physical Education

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Aaron is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching & Physical Education and is also the Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Sport Coaching. He teaches predominately across the Sport Coaching & Physical Education degree programmes focusing specifically on practice design, skill acquisition, performance analysis, participation coaching and performance coaching.

Chris Smietanka

Lecturer / Resident Life Tutor

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Chris has been involved in community football for over 20 years. He oversees the sport science support programme for Plymouth Argyle FC Youth Academy and the operational management for their Centre of Excellence. He helps students to gain volunteering and placement opportunities. He is a Coach Mentor for the FA and as part of the degree programme; students can apply to become part of the FA Young Coach Development Team to develop their theoretical understanding and coaching practice. His other interests include performance analysis, physiological testing and the development of football within the wider community.

Ian Stonebridge


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Ian was an apprentice at Tottenham Hotspur, and played professionally for Plymouth Argyle and Wycombe Wanderers, representing England at Under 18 level. He retired through injury and now coaches at Plymouth Argyle’s Youth Academy. With a UEFA ‘B’ Licence and FA Youth Award coaching qualifications he understands the football-specific knowledge required to coach in a range of different environments, from ‘grassroots’ to the elite game. He teaches coaching process, coaching philosophy and behaviour, and the coach-player relationship.

Ryan Thomas

Senior Lecturer

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Ryan is personal tutor to many students on this programme. His primary interest is talent identification in youth football and he also enjoys teaching both coaching and event management as he likes seeing academic topics from the classroom being delivered in real-life practice. He is an active Centre of Excellence Coach at Plymouth Argyle Football Club and an FA Licenced Coach Educator, which involves the delivery of the FA Level 1, the FA Youth Award Module 1 and various workshops across the county.

More information

In addition to a rigorous academic programme, this programme provides the opportunity to gain a number of industry-relevant coaching qualifications, which enhance your coaching skills for the course, but moreover enhance your CV and employability. By the end of the programme you will have access to:

  • FA Level 1 (including FA Emergency Aid and FA Safeguarding Children in Football)
  • FA Level 2
  • FA Futsal Level 1
  • ISSA Street Soccer Level 1
  • FA Coaching Disabled Footballers
  • UEFA B

Awards will be matched to your level of experience and expertise.

You will also have the opportunity to put what you have learnt into practice through formal partnerships developed by the University with local coaching centres.  The University, and specifically this course, is recognised by the FA and BUCS as both a ‘Young Coach Development Centre’ and ‘Football Hub’.  You will be able to access our Coach Mentor programme supported by academics and community coaches and gain access a range of CPD events.

You'll have the opportunity to study in the United States and we work closely with Camp America to give you the chance to work there during the summer.

More from our students

Working in partnership

Plymouth Argyle Community Trust (PACT) was founded in 1992 and is a registered charity. The Trust’s social objectives are for the benefit of everyone in the local community, promoting inclusion; improving health and education through sport; and generally to raise sports participation levels. They aim to provide the local community with the opportunity to explore their full potential; improve their life chances and increase their future choices and aspirations through the power of football and sport. They employ over 40 permanent staff members who deliver a number of sports, health, education and inclusive projects across Devon and Cornwall.

PACT is involved in a number of national initiatives with key partners such as the Football League Trust, Premier League Charitable Fund, Sport England and other key national agencies. This enables us to provide exposure for our football students in a number of national initiatives including Kicks, PL 4 Sport, National Citizen Service and many more. Giving students access to workshops, practical sessions and planning enables them to utilise these skills and experiences to enhance their employability within the football sector.

There is a strong partnership between the football teaching team and PACT. Together we ensure that students have both excellent academic and applied real world experience.  PACT provide opportunities for students to volunteer or engage in applied work-based learning and practical activities and several members of the PACT team teach on the course. The Head of the PACT, Mark Lovell says: "Almost half our workforce have completed courses in football and sport development and coaching at Marjon which is proof a degree leads to a great job." 

Show video transcript

Chris French: As a former student, who went through the degree program here, and worked my way through up Devon County FA employment structure, now the County Development Manager, realize how important it is to have young people and students work in the community, but also giving them opportunities to have something else in their CV. There are a number of students graduating university now with the same sort of degree, whether it's sports development, or football development.

And actually, as an employer, we're looking for what they've done outside of their degree, where they've taking their studies, and where they've been implementing their studies in the community, giving that bit of volunteering actually makes them standout in their CV. So we wanted to give people in sport, with a passion for football, the opportunity to have that on their CV, and give them the opportunity. So they haven't had to go out and look for it. It's here, it's there. If they want to take part, they can. And we will give them the skills, and the knowledge and the mentoring they need to develop themselves.

Dwain Morgan: It's a really unique, great partnership that the football club has with the degree. Obviously, for us to come in and deliver some guest lectures on the course, allows us to start to teach the content that we need them to know in the real world. And we work alongside Phil and Ryan and the other lecturers, and give their academic research some context. For us, it's great, because it's almost like a three year interview. We get to work with them, lecture them, coach them. And then by the end of their degree studies, hopefully we can turn them into employees for the Argyle Community Trust.

So the Community Trust is a charitable arm of the football club. We work across different strands, but effectively doing charitable work to make sport and football accessible for those that can't access mainstream provision. So we work a lot with targeted groups. We work a lot with young people that can't access football provision. We work a lot with young people with disabilities. We work across the entire community spectrum, in making football, sport and education accessible to all.

One thing we do, is offer a really strong placement program for the students in their second year. They get a chance to come and do 100 hours work experience with us, and really find out what it's like to work with a professional football club, hopefully raising aspirations when they finish to apply for a job that we have. Also, obviously we provide quite a lot of part-time employment for them, so they can earn whilst they learn, give them a great opportunity to do some football coaching in schools and out of schools, which really gives them a taste of flavor for working in the sport development field.

I think the football development and coaching degree at Marjons is really unique, because it has an official partner to the football club. As I've mentioned, embedding the football club into the studies, into the work placements, into the practical coaching, and into the free coach ed that you get as an offer, really places the football club in the heart of the learning experience. It gives us a great opportunity to see the undergrads, and track their journey as they progress to graduates. And that gives us a great chance of offering real sustainable employment to anyone that graduates here at Marjon.

Sam Barton: I was very fortunate to get my work experience through Argyle Community Trust while I was on the degree program. With that, it helped me gain the professional relationships that I needed with the Trust, which really helped me after I finished my degree in applying for the full-time position that I am in now. The Devon FA are really supportive throughout, and they also, with the Argyle Community Trust, are always there to help you, offer you a great opportunity to get involved in other segments of football and coaching around the county.

I feel like this course has really helped me develop the skills and knowledge that I really needed to gain a qualification. But not only that, the professional relationship between the Trust that I gained, really helped me get that support and guidance to really go down the avenue of going onto a sporting environment and the sporting industry.

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