Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The development of elite sports systems has traditionally focused on the optimal performance of the athlete. Increasingly, however sport has been faced with the need to consider the development of its 'star performers' from a much more holistic and 'human' perspective. This unit will highlight the importance of an understanding of sport as the context and the athlete as a person to the effectiveness of the sport scientist and administrator. Content knowledge in the unit will investigate holistic athlete development from three perspectives. Firstly, from an organisational perspective of the structures that have developed within Australian sport to cater for the needs of athletes both on and beyond the playing field. Secondly, from the perspective of the legal and ethical responsibilities which sport is obliged to assume for the well-being of its employees. Thirdly, a more strategic perspective is adopted which draws on contemporary human resources knowledge to propose an array of benefits that can accrue to organisations that develop and implement an athlete welfare program that is based on recognising the human dignity of the athlete and the spirit of sport. This unit aims to address the issue of holistic athlete development from each of these three perspectives.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss careers in sport within the framework of the total human lifespan and from a perspective of respect for the individual and human dignity (GA1, GA5)

LO2 - Outline the interactions of athletic, individual, societal, and academic/vocational factors in the developmental transitions through which athletes progress (GA1, GA3, GA5)

LO3 - Critically discuss the management of elite athletes from an individual human needs perspective (GA1, GA2, GA4)

LO4 - Develop strategies for a holistic perspective for athlete well-being when developing strategies to achieve optimal performance in the short, medium and longer term (GA4)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 


Topics will include: 

Sport as a career: 

  • The historical context – the evolution of western sports systems, from the cold war to globalisation. 
  • The sports field as a regulated industrial workplace – the role of the player associations, collective bargaining, etc. 
  • When the fulltime whistle blows – the focus on Athlete Career Education (ACE) and the dual career notion. 

 Expected capabilities: 

  • Holistic development of the athlete – the athlete as person. 
  • Preparing the body – systems that impact on performance 
  • Psychological needs and appropriate support 

 The athlete brand: 

  • The meaning of a personal brand 
  • Identifying relevant personal and sport related brand attributes 
  • Meeting employer and market expectations as an athlete 
  • The athlete as a person - could this be a source of competitive advantage? 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies have been purposefully designed for the assessment of learning outcomes reflecting the principles of authentic assessment design and include:

  • Assessment Task 1: a written task, to assess understanding and application of the unit content and communication of argument;
  • Assessment Task 2: quizzes, to assess knowledge and understanding of the unit; and
  • Assessment Task 3: a business case, to assess critical thinking, and application of unit learnings.

Students must achieve a cumulative grade of at least 50% across all assessments.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Written Assignment: 

Enables students to evaluate current practices and associated structures that support athletes into, within and after their sporting careers


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2


Enables students to demonstrate understanding of and familiarity with major concepts and literature underpinning the unit content. 


LO1, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 3

Business Case: 

Enables students to present a case outlining the need to invest in holistic welfare and development, including reference to moral, ethical performance and business principles. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Connor, J. (2009). The athlete as widget: How exploitation explains elite sport. Sport in Society, 12(10), 1369-1377. doi: 10.1080/17430430903204900 

Douglas, K., & Carless, D. (2006). The performance environment: A study of the personal, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect sporting performance. London: UK Sport

Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle (Vol. 1): WW Norton & Company. 

Fletcher, D., & Wagstaff, C. R. D. (2009). Organizational psychology in elite sport: Its emergence, application and future. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 10(4), 427-434. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.03.009 

Hickey, C., & Kelly, P. (2008). Preparing to not be a footballer: higher education and professional sport. Sport, Education & Society, 13(4), 477-494. doi: 10.1080/13573320802445132 

Horton, R. S., & Mack, D. E. (2000). Athletic identity in marathon runners: functional focus or dysfunctional commitment? Journal of Sport Behavior, 23(2), 101-119. 

Park, S., Lavallee, D., & Tod, D. (2012). Athletes' career transition out of sport: a systematic review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6(1), 22-53. doi: 10.1080/1750984x.2012.687053 

Price, N., Morrison, N., & Arnold, S. (2010). Life out of the limelight: Understanding the non-sporting pursuits of elite athletes. The International Journal of Sport and Society, 1(3), 69-79. 

Stambulova, N., Alfermann, D., Statler, T., & Côté, J. (2009). ISSP Position stand: Career development and transitions of athletes. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(4), 395-412. doi: 10.1080/1612197x.2009.9671916 

Sturges, J., & Guest, D. (2004). Working to live or living to work? Work/life balance early in the career. Human Resource Management Journal, 14(4), 5-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-8583.2004.tb00130.x 

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