MSc Performance Enhancement in Sports Officiating

Postgraduate, Part-time

Performance Enhancement in Sports Officiating MSc

This online course is for sports officials (referees & umpires) operating at the performance level within their sport.


Whilst focusing on your own officiating (or your coaching of sports officials) this course will give you expert knowledge in skilled communication, where you will learn about effective verbal & non verbal behaviours, strategies for managing difficult players and how to present yourself effectively to multiple audiences.

You will learn ideas on high-pressure decision making, developed in the military, fire-fighting and NASA space control in order to help understand how to enhance accurate and time pressured in-game decision making. You will learn ideas on how to develop ‘team thinking’ to help ensure that emergent teams are able to function together synchronously and make coherent decisions through shared decision processes.

Please contact the programme leader Duncan Mascarenhas at
before applying.

Applications submitted after 31 July 2020 are not guaranteed to be considered for September 2020 entry.

Sport officiating

Mode of Study:



3 years

Start date:


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Course details

With a heavy emphasis upon self-reflection you will profile your own performance with a series of research investigations to identify areas for personal development. Your progress will be guided by enhancing your understanding of contemporary research and using peer support groups to critically reflect upon your performance.

Exploring contemporary issues in leadership, sports performance management systems and organisational culture you will not only examine your own leadership capabilities in relation to your personal context (eg the match day officiating team,  the development of a group of performance officials), but also critically evaluate them in relation to effective organisational, team and player management.

This novel programme is designed not only to help your own performance but also it is created flexibly so that you can apply your critical and reflective thinking in relation to your own professional needs. Using webinars, skype calls and video materials you will be provided with exemplars of the practical application of theoretical concepts designed to advance refereeing/umpiring performance.

The programme is delivered part-time with a group webinar at the start of each trimester and multiple online checkpoints through the year. Online interactive activities and online video materials will be used to augment the experience. This delivery style is designed to optimise the development of a supportive community of learning, whilst also accommodating your individual professional demands.

The emphasis is upon achieving significant learning outcomes, with forward looking assessments tailored to your own real-life context. You will learn how to use evidence-based practice to enhance both your own and your peers’ officiating performance.

The following modules will be studied.

  • Work Based Learning Portfolio for Sports Officials [20 credits]
  • Communication & Game Management [20 credits]
  • Leadership & Organisational Management for Sports Officials [20 credits]
  • High Pressure Decision Making [20 credits]
  • Independent Study [40 credits]
  • Research Project [60 credits]

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    You’ll learn by a variety of teaching methods including online webinars, one-on-one tutorials and video-based activities, as well as independent study. This part-time course will take 3 years to complete to masters level and will be conducted online to accommodate your professional circumstances. Alternatively, you can choose individual, stand-alone modules (without an exit qualification) to study as part of your ongoing sports officiating CPD.

  • note and pen Assessments Throughout the course, there will be one or two areas of assessment for each module, each of which can be tailored to meet your professional needs as a practising referee, umpire or sports officiating coach.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Communication & Game Management ( SES11125 )

Relating the latest research to your own verbal and non-verbal skills you will learn about players’ strategies to influence you, your typical conflict management style (Thomas-Kilmann, 1976) and develop a framework for assessing and developing your own game management skills. Emerging literature in human interactions, social justice, psychology and sports officiating research will guide you to effectively reflect upon how to sell decisions with confidence and develop a range of strategies for managing difficult players.

Further information

High Pressure Decision Making ( SES11126 )

Using theories developed in the military, aviation, fire-fighting and NASA space control you will learn about principles of naturalistic and classic decision making to help you make more accurate in-game decisions. You will learn ideas on how to develop ‘team thinking’ through shared mental model theories to help ensure that emergent teams are able to function together synchronously and make coherent decisions through shared decision processes. You will develop your understanding of established cognitive biases that may affect your decision making with evidence from sports officiating literature to help you to be able to arbitrate games objectively and within your own and your governing body’s philosophical standpoint. In addition you will be provided with support on conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis on performance data.

Further information

Independent Study (40 Credits) ( SES11105 )

The module promotes reflection and critical thinking in relation to your own learning in line with your personal, professional and/or academic interests and needs. The content includes a learning agreement: exploration of the concept of reflection, a variety of different frameworks and models; activities to facilitate a deeper understanding of the processes involved in thinking more critically. With your academic tutor you will be required to negotiate a learning agreement equivalent to 400 hours of study.

Further information

Leadership and Organisational Management for Sports Officials ( SES11124 )

Over the course of this module you will be introduced to key modules and theories associated with contemporary themes in sports organisational culture, sports performance management systems and leadership. You will be given the opportunity for peer learning and to view, critique and test key theoretical frameworks within your own practice. The content will enhance your skills in relation to developing evidence- based best practice and informed decision-making. The assessments will not only examine your own leadership capabilities in relation to personal contexts and situations, but also critically evaluate them in relation to effective organisational and team functioning. As part of this you will engage in a process of information gathering, concept testing, synthesis and evaluation and critical reflection.

Further information

Research Project [60 credit] ( SES11107 )

In this module you will conduct an independent piece of research, either as a practical laboratory-based project, or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. interviews, focus groups, surveys). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your programme of study. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a written report, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. This will give you experience in summarising information and presentation skills.
This module includes: Structured on-line literature searches. Literature review. Project formulation. Hypothesis generation. Experimental design. Development of practical skills/research technique. Data generation/collection and analysis. Use of appropriate statistical analysis. Evaluation of findings, critical analysis, synthesis and conclusions, with reference to supporting literature. Communication of original research results in a report written in the style of a scientific paper.

Further information

Work Based Learning for Sports Officials ( SES11123 )

The module acknowledges that learners can recognise their own learning needs and bring their own resources and knowledge to their academic and professional development. It promotes information gathering and evaluation, reflection and critical thinking in relation to the student's own learning in line with their personal, professional and/or academic interests / needs. Content includes Learning Agreement; reflection on practice by use of different models and frameworks; how to write learning outcomes at level 11; examples of different types of evidence that may be used in their portfolio; a deeper understanding of the processes involved in thinking critically. The outcome of this work should inform further professional development work or the resolution of a practical problem in the work place.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirements are:

  • A bachelor’s degree with honours in sport science, sport and exercise science, coaching science, business studies or related area. Applicants with degrees in related areas, e.g. business/management, coaching and applied sport science etc will be interviewed by members of the programme team and their suitability will be assessed and an offer made on merit, or
  • A relevant professional qualification. Applicants will be interviewed by members of the programme team and their suitability will be assessed and an offer made on merit, or
  • Other qualifications or experience which demonstrate through our recognition of prior learning process that you have appropriate knowledge and skills at SCQF level 10, or
  • Successfully completed as a student of the University through the Affiliate Student scheme of two taught modules equivalent to 40 credits at SCQF level 11.

Recognition of prior learning. 

Applications will be considered on an individual basis, taking into consideration previous study and experience in compliance with Edinburgh Napier University’s Recognition of Prior Learning Procedures (2018/19).

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2020/21 2021/22
All students - Taught modules *£645 tba
The total cost for this course is currently £5,160 for a student in the 2020/21 cohort.
Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 20% discount on MSc Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.


Our recent cohort of students included officials operating in these environments:

Bundesliga (football referee)

Women’s Premiership Rugby (Referee)

World Rugby Women’s 7 Series (Performance Reviewer)

Match Official’s Development Officer (England Rugby)

Euroleague Basketball (Management & Referee)

International Netball Federation (Management)

Women’s Rugby World Cup (referees)

Gallagher Premiership Rugby

FIBA Basketball (referee)

British Basketball League (referee)

FIFA (referee)

Sport officiating