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Sport (Outdoor Adventure) HNC

  • HE

This course builds on the knowledge and skills required to pursue a career within the outdoor sports industry. This course provides the theoretical underpinning of outdoor learning and leadership within the outdoor activity sector. As well as participating in the course, you will be encouraged to be involved in practical work with various groups and clubs in the community to further deepen your knowledge and skills.

Entry requirements

You will need:

  • 48 UCAS points from a BTEC Level 3 Diploma/Extended Diploma qualification in a relevant subject area studies over a two year period OR
  • 48 UCAS points from relevant A Levels OR equivalent Level 3 qualification
  • GCSE in English AND maths at Grade A*-C/9-4 or equivalent

Applicants from A-Level programmes with relevant experience will also be considered, as will mature students, who will be considered individually on experience rather than qualifications. Mature applicants who do not meet the advertised academic entry requirements may be required to complete a ‘bridging assignment’ to demonstrate their writing and referencing skills.

Entry will also be subject to a successful interview, where you will be asked to produce evidence of your prior experience.

Course content

The Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Sport offers students an introduction to the subject area via a mandatory core of learning, while allowing for the acquisition of skills and experience through the selection of Optional units across a range of occupational sectors at Level 4. This effectively builds underpinning core skills while preparing the student for subject specialisation at Level 5. Students will gain a wide range of sector knowledge tied to practical skills gained in research, self-study, directed study and workplace scenarios.

At Level 4, students develop a broad knowledge and awareness of key aspects of Sport and Outdoor Adventure through three Core units, which include one unit assessed by a Pearson-set assignment.

During the course you will study the following core compulsory units:

  • Physical Activity, Lifestyle & Health
  • The Sport Landscape
  • Project Management (Pearson-set unit)
  • Risk & Safety Management in the Outdoors
  • Outdoor Learning 

You will also study the following specialist units:

  • Working with Young People
  • Expedition Leadership
  • Outdoor Activities 

On successfully completing the Higher National Certificate you will be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the concepts Outdoor Adventure. You will be able to communicate accurately and appropriately and have the qualities needed for employment that requires some degree of personal responsibility. A key part of the course will be developing a range of transferable skills to ensure effective team working, independent initiatives, organisational competence and problem-solving strategies.

You learn how to be adaptable and flexible in your approach to Outdoor Adventure, showing resilience under pressure, and meet challenging targets within a given resource. The aim of this course is to provide you with the necessary specialist knowledge required to use sport and outdoor equipment, develop the knowledge and skills to coach outdoor adventurous activities and to demonstrate the required professionalism to work within the sport and outdoor adventure industry. You will also gain a diverse range of subject specific knowledge from specialist units selected to offer a broad understanding of the outdoor adventure, sport and leisure industry.

There are also work placement opportunities available. Part of the development of employability skills in both years will be working as an instructor for Shuttleworth Activity Centre delivering to schools groups and also students studying on the BTEC Level 3 course.

The second year will entail a compulsory work placement with an employer in the outdoor adventurous or sport sector.

Each year on the course there will be compulsory residential trips but also optional extra trips such as skiing in Italy, climbing in Spain or yachting in Croatia. These will vary depending on cohort size/take up.

Day trips to outdoor centres will be an integral part of the course.

Assessment methods

You will learn through a variety of teaching methods including practical activities, guest speakers, visits to sport and leisure industry facilities and organisations and traditional seminars and research projects.

Coursework for assessment includes written reports, presentations, practical observations and timed assignments.

You will also be required to carry out an extensive work experience placement within the sports industry and complete a research project linked to the studies in the outdoor sector.


BTEC HNC Diploma in Sport (Outdoor Adventure)


  • Outdoor First Aid
  • UKCC Level 1 or 2 Paddlesports Coach
  • RYA Sailing Dinghy Instructor
  • MLTE Climbing Wall Award

(These are all non-compulsory and incur an extra cost to be discussed at interview.)

Further study and career options

Successful completion of the HNC leads on to the HND or into employment.

Additional information

This course will help you gain the knowledge and skills required for a management role in the outdoor leisure sector. It will enable you to make effective contributions in the private, public and voluntary sectors with the expertise required by communities, providers and performers.

The practical programme will be designed to develop higher-level skills in activities alongside developing coaching and leadership skills in delivery. The focus will be on Sailing, Climbing, Kayaking and Canoeing but other areas will also be introduced.

Shuttleworth College run a careers and work placement event each year attended by employers such PGL, Rockley and UKSA, and local providers such as Grafham Water Centre, Fairland’s Valley Outdoor Centre and Big Rock Climbing.

You will also work on learning/developing transferable skills including:

  • Leadership and management skills
  • Team working skills and the ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Group facilitation skills, allowing even those with a limited range of technical outdoor skills to work with groups
  • Written and oral communication skills and the ability to establish a rapport with a range of people
  • Customer service skills
  • Decision-making skills and the ability to stay calm in difficult and challenging situations
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Financial skills, such as being able to manage a budget
  • Commercial awareness and marketing
  • Imaginative and innovative approach to working in the field
  • Flexibility in order to meet business and client needs

Additional costs



Mandatory/ Optional

Estimated cost

Instructor/Coaching Courses

1 and 2

Optional but encouraged

Variable depending on the National Governing Body and Level of Course e.g. £100+




Est. £300




Est. £100


1 and 2


Varies depending on trip




Course Polo and Softshell jacket. £50-£100


1 and 2


Require wetsuit (5mm) £100, wetsuit boots £30, walking boots £100, waterproof trousers £50, waterproof jacket £75 + fleeces, gloves, hats, sports/gym kit. (If already owned, no need to purchase)

Study requires extensive reading and access to reference works. Recommended texts are available in the Learning Resources Centre at College, however availability may be limited so students may wish to purchase their own copies.

1 and 2


Approximately £30

How to apply

To enrol on this course you must apply through the University & Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) using the institution code B23 and the course code SOA1. Visit or call us on 01234 291000 for more information.

Pay by instalments

The College offers an instalment plan for Further Education and Higher Education courses to students where the total amount payable at the point of enrolment is £200 or more. Within the scheme there is an ability to pay up to 7 instalments, depending on the length of the courses and the final payment must be paid at least a month before the end of the course.

Please note: You will be required to attend college 3 days per week (days to be confirmed)

Course Information & How to Apply

You will need to complete a UCAS online application form to apply for this course, available at The codes needed are located in the 'How to apply' section above. Please call the College on 01234 291000 if you have any queries about your application.

LengthStart DateFeesLocationCourse Code
1 year 27/09/2021 £5895 Shuttleworth College H1636

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Additional Learning Support
If you have a specific learning difficulty or disability, are deaf or hearing impaired, our Additional Learning Support team are on hand to give you assistance whenever you need it.  Find out more.

Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Support
At Bedford College, we are committed to developing the provision for students on the autistic spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome.  Find out more.

We have access arrangements in place to help students with disabilities or any other particular needs. Call us on 01234 291000 for more information.

Additional formats
Course information sheets are also available in large print and audio formats. Call us on
01234 291000 to order your copy.