Adventure Performance and Coaching BSc (Hons)

Course code N876

What is special about this course?

Combine the skills and knowledge of an applied sports scientist with those of a modern adventure professional, on this unique and exhilarating course. Be part of a rapidly evolving sector where the development of over 21 Olympic adventure sports disciplines, as well as the demand for healthy active lifestyles, has brought about a drive for greater achievements in adventure sports and for the life-enhancing benefits of participation, informed by expert coaches and leaders.

Join this expert-led course and let us prepare you to coach and guide the next generation of adventure athletes. Work with participants who demand greater outcomes in their adventure sport and develop the skills to help them smash their goals. Receive tailored outdoor-activity skill development and professional NGB training and assessment with the School of Adventure Studies' 'practical credits system', as you access outstanding adventure facilities set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK.

Special features

  • Access to outstanding adventure facilities set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK
  • Receive tailored outdoor-activity skill development and professional NGB training and assessment with the School of Adventure Studies' 'practical credits system': continuous professional skills development throughout your degree and beyond
  • Be part of a vibrant and active diverse student community of outdoor enthusiasts, based at the School of Adventure Studies in Fort William, the hub of the Outdoor Capital of the UK
  • Live and work at the foot of Ben Nevis, in a region that is unique for its rich variety of outdoor opportunities
  • Easily transfer between adventure programmes within the School of Adventure StudiesBA (Hons) Adventure Education; BA (Hons) Adventure Tourism Management; and BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism
  • Excellent links and work-placement opportunities with many adventure-based businesses and institutions in Scotland, the UK and internationally
  • Residential field trips, clubs, international expeditions and many other opportunities to enhance your skills and experience in adventure activities


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade C or above OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above
  • These must include either Science or PE
  • You will also be expected to be able to demonstrate an interest in, and a commitment to, practical outdoor activities, and preferably have an interest in a professional career in the outdoor sector
  • Personal practical outdoor experience is advantageous but not essential
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis
  • This is a Category 1 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required to successfully achieve target qualification, where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in key elements of the course. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage

Advanced entry to year two or three:

  • Direct entry to year two or three may be possible with a relevant HNC/D, foundation degree etc. Applicants will be considered on an individual basis and may be required to attend an interview

Access routes

SWAP Access courses

If you are eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP), please visit our SWAP access list for further information on grade profiles and available subjects.

For International students requiring Student Route sponsorship
Please note that international students with a Student Route visa can only take part in sports activities or as part of a work placement, as an amateur and not as a professional or semi-professional. You will not be allowed to become a member of a professional sports association while a student. This is due to ‘professional sportsperson’ restrictions imposed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as outlined in their Student Route Policy Guidance.

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules may include:

  • Activity performance and skill acquisition
  • Adventure geography: the Scottish perspective
  • Human structure and function
  • Introduction to professional adventure practice
  • Introduction to sports coaching and leadership

You will also choose two option modules which may include:

  • Adventure education journeys
  • Adventure markets: products and services

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules may include:

  • Adventure operations and risk management
  • Applied coaching and leadership
  • Performance and analysis of specialist skills
  • Principles of sport and exercise psychology
  • Sport and exercise physiology

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Understanding adventure
  • Work placement: team working and communication

Year 3 - BSc

Core modules include:

  • Applied sport and exercise psychology
  • Planning international expeditions
  • Research methods (sport)

You will also choose three option modules which must include one from the following:

  • Design, manage and evaluate human fitness and physical performance
  • Sports nutrition and dietary considerations
  • Strength and conditioning

Additional options may also include:

  • Adventure therapy
  • International expedition leadership
  • Work placement: industry specific skills

Year 4 - BSc (Hons)

Core modules include:

  • Advanced applications of coaching and instruction
  • Adventure psychology: skills and behaviours
  • Inclusive adventure
  • Perceptions of risk and decision-making

You will also choose one double credit project or research-based module from the following:

  • Dissertation (sport)
  • Professional adventure project (legacy project or major expedition venture)

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)

You will learn through a combination of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom, with some teaching by video conference from our other campuses, and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE). There are also opportunities for work placements at different levels of the programme.

You will also spend a significant amount of time increasing your skills through practical, experiential learning. The main disciplines included are mountaineering and climbing, paddle sports and mountain biking, with a wide scope for progression and application of theories throughout the four years of study, through field work and industry activity.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years
  • Part-time (structured): 8 years

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides - Fort William campus

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Study Mode 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £915 £915
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £305 £305

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term-time address in Scotland, studying full time, the following fees apply:

Year Level 2023-24 Full-time 2024-25 Full-time
Year 1 CertHE £9,250 £9,250
Year 2 DipHE £9,250 £9,250
Year 3 Degree £9,250 £9,250
Year 4 Honours free free

4th year free only for students studying full-time, on continuous study, who have paid for the previous three years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Part-time (per 20 credit module) - £1,542.

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying (see the Funding section opposite).

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Scottish Government confirmed that EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, who do not have settled or pre-settled status, will be considered as international for fee purposes.  Students will get an automatic scholarship of £4,000 per annum and the 4th year of study will be free for those studying full-time, on continuous study, who have paid for the previous three years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Year Level 2023-24 Full-time With scholarship 2024-25 Full-time With scholarship
Year 1 CertHE £15,360 £11,360 £15,996 £11,996
Year 2 DipHE £15,360 £11,360 £15,996 £11,996
Year 3 Degree £15,360 £11,360 £15,996 £11,996
Year 4 Honours £15,360 Free £15,996 Free

Students will need Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK or European Union and with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Study Mode 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year (120 credit modules) per year £15,360 £15,996
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £7,680 £7,998
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £2,560 £2,666

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.

Further information on international course fees.

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time rest of the UK, EU and international undergraduate students for continuous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

Additional costs

Personal Outdoor Equipment and Clothing
You will have access to specialist equipment, for all timetabled activities, from our extensive stores. An equipment deposit of £60 is payable at the beginning of your course. This is held in our stores account to cover any equipment damage, losses, or unpaid course registrations or certificate fees. It is rare that these deposits are used, and you can claim it back at the end of each academic year if required, or it can be left in the stores account to cover your deposit for the following year.

You will need to purchase your own personal clothing, waterproofs and footwear for most activities (with the exception of very specialised footwear such as winter boots). Excellent deals on prices from a range of suppliers are available for all students.

Module costs
Introduction to Sports Coaching and Leadership (core, year 1): this includes an opportunity to complete training for a UK National Governing Body qualification in climbing, paddlesports or mountain biking. The course is free of charge, but you will need to pay for your own membership and registration fees with the relevant NGB. This cost can range from approximately £50-£100, depending on the NGB.

Adventure Education Journeys (optional, year 1): there is a mandatory residential experience in this module at Outward Bound Loch Eil, costing approximately £80 for 3 days full-board. This cost is 50% subsidised by the School of Adventure Studies.

International Expedition Leadership (optional year 3): this involves undertaking an international expedition, which is subsidised by UHI North, West and Hebrides. Depending on the specific plan, you should budget for up to £1000. There may be opportunities to gain funds to support this expedition through grant funding sources or sponsorship, which would be your responsibility to obtain.

What can I do on completion of my course?

With a degree in Adventure Performance and Coaching you will hold a valuable array of knowledge and skills that are transferable to any of the various aspects of the UK or international adventure sector. The specific pathway you take will be vital in helping you shape your own chosen career. Adventure coaching covers a wide range of career pathways and specialist fields, including:

  • Adventure sport coach
  • Applied sport scientist or performance analyst
  • Guiding and instructing in adventurous activities
  • Leadership and management roles in activity organisations
  • Sports development officer and talent identification
  • Strength and conditioning coach

Your career will grow and change as the years go on, and your degree will prepare you for other related areas and possible future growth, so you may also find yourself involved in:

  • Adventure education
  • Adventure therapy
  • Adventure tourism
  • Higher level adventure sector leadership - shaping future policy and practice
  • International expeditions
  • Marine wildlife tourism
  • Military or emergency services

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress from the BSc (Hons) Adventure Performance and Coaching to the following postgraduate courses:

Is there more information available online?

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I chose the Adventure Performance and Coaching Degree to continue my coaching development. The modules were well suited to what I wanted to learn and will help me expand my coaching toolbox with essential knowledge as well as teach me about how to apply what I’ve learned to an outdoor environment.

It’s been fantastic how accessible the area and its associated sports have been with help of the college. Courses are constantly running in a wide variety of outdoor sports and NGB training and assessment awards are organised frequently to help students develop further in the sports they’re most interested in. So, easy to meet new and like-minded people who are as into the outdoors and the same sports as I am and get out adventuring with them.

I’d be interested in advancing further either climbing up the ladder to eventually establish myself as a Mountain Guide or continuing down the coaching path and starting up my own business, even both! Whatever keeps me happy and helps fund big climbing trips so I can continue exploring and climbing all over the world.

Ryan Mckenzie graduated from the BA (Hons) Adventure Performance and Coaching at UHI West Highland.

I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to go into performance and coaching as there is an inbuilt balance, developing both aspects for the athlete or the instructor. For example, I have done my personal performance awards in paddle sports, whilst also going to the local climbing wall with a qualified instructor as part of a class on coaching skills, using video analysis as an aid. Therefore, I would put this course above many others like it in the UK.
I plan to investigate Adventure Psychology, looking at the effects of adventure on the cognitive development of children and whether it could be used to combat childhood obesity as opposed to traditional sports. 
I am considering a Master’s, so the future is looking bright!

Sian McWalter is studying the BA (Hons) Adventure Performance and Coaching at UHI West Highland.

Apply for Adventure Performance and Coaching BSc (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2024

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.