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Course content

The 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 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).

Core modules

  • Leading and Managing Change and Improvement

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. Other elective modules offered within 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*

*Modules available from the University of London International Programme (subject to confirmation). NB. These are distance learning modules only. 


Students undertake a dissertation of 20,000 words.

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.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Leadership MA


The 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.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Director of Sports, Unspecified London Academy
  • Vice-Principal, Unspecified Sixth Form College
  • PhD in Education, Institute of Education, University of London (IOE)
  • Head of Elementary Section, Unspecified International School
  • Head of Psychology / Quality Adviser for Academic Sciences, Unspecified Sixth Form College


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.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

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 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.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Learning & Leadership

78% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

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





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