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Tuesday 11 Jul 2023
Students graduate from Ulster University-Irish FA degree course

The second cohort of students enrolled on a BSc Football Coaching and Business Management degree course run by Ulster University in partnership with the Irish Football Association have graduated.

The graduation was the culmination of five years of part-time study which students on the degree course had to combine with work and family commitments.

The programme offers a pathway for experienced coaches, current players and those aspiring to progress within the football industry.

Co-designed by Ulster University and the Irish FA, it allows students to combine theory and practice with the completion of professional UEFA coaching qualifications along with an undergraduate degree.

Following the graduation ceremony – it was held at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall - course director Shane McCullough explained the students all have voluntary coaching roles to which they commit a lot of time and effort.

He further revealed that over the duration of the course they all gained coaching qualifications to UEFA B Licence level and above as part of their programme of study.

He added: “The students must also be commended for their efforts and flexibility during the Covid pandemic that resulted in online teaching and a need to adapt to new technologies.”

The course director was also keen to highlight the contributions made by Irish FA staff to the teaching and co-ordination of the course and the support they offered to students, particularly in respect of work experience opportunities.

He said Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson has been a strong advocate and supporter of the course and the prioritisation of first class teaching rooms at the National Football Stadium was greatly appreciated by the students and course team.

And he joked: “Indeed the students were very keen to make a beeline from the Waterfront Hall to the stadium to commemorate their graduation with photos taken pitchside.”

The course director had a special mention for Mark McAlister, who graduated with the best overall grade and combined his final year studies with the management of the Education and Heritage Centre at the National Football Stadium.

“This is another outstanding example of the opportunities available to existing students and graduates and the strong collaboration between the Irish FA and Ulster University,” he added.

The course is delivered in four-day intensive blocks, covering everything from football policy planning and operations management to performance analysis and coaching science.

Embedded within the course are internships and work placements, giving students first-hand experience of the industry and access to some of Northern Ireland’s leading figures in football.

For further details on the BSc Hons Football Coaching and Business Management degree go to: