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Study for a prestigious MA Applied Educational Leadership via distance learning

If you're an educational professional looking to progress into management or consultancy, or an educational planning or development role, this is the ideal degree for you.

  • a leader or manager in a school or college
  • an educational consultant
  • working in an educational planning, development or inspection role for a national or regional organisation.

Provided by the UCL Institute of Education, this MA programme is available by distance learning, allowing you to study flexibly while balancing work and personal commitments.

Course aims

The course will:

  • equip you with the knowledge to improve your understanding of educational leadership
  • enable you to apply theory and research in your current role
  • foster your continuing professional development through reflection on practice
  • give you the chance to contribute towards improvement of educational systems and institutions and to reflect on the quality of learning and teaching.

Your time commitment

To complete the MA programme in the minimum study period (3 years), we estimate that you will need to study for about 10-15 hours per week.

Study materials

Your study materials have been developed by academics in educational leadership from the Institute of Education. You will also receive additional readings that have been specially selected to complement the core course material.

Online support

When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and two other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) offers online learning support, focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities, informal discussion areas, and links to resources.
  • The Online Library holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated helpdesk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need.
  • Online tutors will mediate online conferences and provide advice on individual queries.


Each module is assessed by a combination of coursework and a written exam (usually held in May). The dissertation is assessed by a project of 15,000 words.

You can sit exams at an approved centre anywhere in the world (mainly Ministries of Education or the British Council). Each centre charges a fee for hosting exams. More about how assessment works is available on the University of London website.

What qualifications do you need?

  • An undergraduate degree in any subject (e.g. bachelor) comparable to a UK second-class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • At least two years’ experience as professionals in an educational setting, including experience of leading other educators. This is commonly a school, university or childcare setting, but we accept applicants from a wide range of educational institutions. As this is an applied course linking theory to practice, we also expect that you will remain in a leadership position throughout your studies.

Where an applicant does not have such qualifications, we invite them to set out in their personal statement why they are ready to engage with an academically rigorous programme.

If you have a qualification in an unrelated subject or an unconventional career path with diverse work experience, we will consider your application on its own merits.

Find equivalent qualifications where you live, see Worldwide qualifications on University of London website.

English Language requirements

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to an overall score of 7.0 overall in the iELTS test, with at least 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. Certain courses may have additional requirements, such as software to manage spreadsheets and run macros.

Career opportunities

This programme is ideal both for those currently working in school leadership positions looking to advance their career, and in the wider field of education to pursue managerial, policy or consultancy roles.

The AEL programme has gained recognition for the International Baccalaureate advanced certificate in leadership research.

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

Academic leadership

The University of London collaborates with member institutions to bring distance and flexible learning to students worldwide. Students are registered with the University of London, which handles the practical elements of running the programmes, such as processing fees, administering registration, organising your examinations, and awarding your degree.

The AEL programme is designed and developed by UCL Institute of Education, which provides the academic direction, including developing and maintaining the syllabi, preparing learning resources, providing tutorial support, and marking the assessments.

The UCL Institute of Education is the largest institution in the UK devoted to the study of education. Founded in 1902, the Institute is a world-class centre of excellence for teacher training, higher degrees, research and consultancy in education and related areas of professional practice and the social sciences.

Funding your study

There are a variety of funding sources available, depending on the course you choose and where you live. See the Funding your study section on University of London website.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact our Student Advice Centre.

Visit the Applied Educational Leadership page on the University of London website for more details!






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