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The Educational Leadership MA will explore and critique educational leadership and management theory, research and practice and encourage students to reflect on and challenge their own practice as educational leaders or managers. Students investigate how the intersection of policy and practice influences leaders and managers of schools, institutions and systems, and examine how leaders and managers can improve the quality of teaching and learning.

About this degree

This programme will develop an understanding of how to lead and manage educational improvement in the school sector. It provides students with the opportunity to develop their understanding of how leaders and managers can nurture relationships with their communities, investigating how leaders and managers can address issues of race, gender and class within educational organisations to improve student outcomes. Students will be able to join a professional network with other participants from London and around the world.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (30 credits), three optional modules (90 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits). 

Compulsory modules

  • Leading and Managing Change and Improvement
  • Dissertation or report

The key topics of educational leadership and management will be considered. Learning-centred leadership and system leadership will be defined and its main features discussed. The cultural context is also examined. Key matters of managing educational improvement and change are examined and attention given to strategies for managing change effectively. An introduction to the field of school improvement and effectiveness research will be provided.

Optional modules

Students choose a maximum of three optional modules from the list below. The 'Doing and Using' module below is strongly recommended as preparation for the dissertation. Modules which are asterisked are offered by the University of London International Programme (subject to availability). These are distance learning modules and therefore not suitable for full-time students on Tier 4 visas. Other modules offered at the IOE may also be taken, subject to approval.

  • Doing and Using Educational Leadership and Management Research
  • Leadership for the Learning Community
  • Leading in Diverse Cultures and Communities
  • Developing Personal Leadership Skills*
  • Exploring Educational Policy*
  • Finance and Resource Management*
  • Values, Vision and Moral Purpose*

Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.


Students undertake a dissertation of 20,000 words investigating an issue in Educational Leadership

Teaching and learning

Teaching is delivered through face-to-face teaching, facilitation, multimedia presentations and activity-based learning. Each module is supported by materials on our virtual learning environment. The programme is assessed through coursework and the dissertation.


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


The Educational Leadership MA is a proven programme which our students have found to be invaluable in enhancing their current roles. A significant number have used both the skills and the qualification as a platform for career advancement. Typically they move into senior leadership positions within their selected phase of working. Subsequently many move on to headship or principalship. A smaller number elect to continue their exploration of education through doctoral studies. 

Graduates of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas. Some are working as principals/head teachers, while others have jobs as university academics.


Though academic in focus the programme is practical in terms of application. Students develop skills in leading staff, working with teams, professional issues of supporting and challenging motivation, leading change, assessing research claims and developing research-engaged institutions. Wider philosophical and value stances are explored and these are particularly pertinent in working in a truly global context.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The quality and range of the Department of Learning and Leadership's research and development work derives from its excellent reputation, not least for promoting new knowledge for and about leadership in London, nationally, and internationally. The programme draws on the world leading research in the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, located in the department.

The department supports educational and public sector leadership for improving the life chances of individuals and communities, working in partnership with practitioners and policymakers at the critical edge of research and practice.

The department is at the forefront of developing research, new knowledge and publications for and about leadership and learning.

Department: Learning & Leadership


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at:

Who can apply?

The Educational Leadership MA is suitable for middle, senior or system leaders in education. The programme strongly focuses on the school system and emphasises research related to schools. Our students normally require some formal school leadership experience and/or strong interest in the school sector. The programme may also be suitable for those with policy or other related educational leadership roles, including those related to Further and Higher Education. You will find this programme useful in exploring the challenges faced in the education sector both at home and abroad. It has particular relevance in leading schools in the context of the changing educational landscape. 

Application deadlines

26 July 2019

For more information see our Applications page.

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What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn: 

  • why you want to study Educational Leadership at graduate level
  • why you want to study Educational Leadership at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Visit the Educational Leadership MA page on the University College London website for more details!