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Course content

The MSc in Public Leadership will be a unique, challenge-based learning programme that reflects our commitment to our Public Value strategy. We are uniquely placed to offer this programme with close links between research and practice, and our challenge-centred approach.

The programme is targeted at employees across a wide range of public services with five to ten years’ experience and aspirations to progress to senior roles, and who are motivated to make a difference in response to the complex and interdependent issues arising in the current and future service environment.

Designed around a series of modules that will be facilitated by academic and practitioner teams, the focus will be on evaluating evidence from research and practice in live settings, case studies and consultancy problems arising from your own organisation. You will also benefit from masterclasses with high profile leaders.

Using a range of policy and delivery challenges that cut across disciplinary, geographic, organisational and sectoral boundaries, we will support you to reflect critically on how insights into theory and practice can generate and sustain individual development, organisational improvement and enhanced citizen outcomes. Your individual leadership capacity will be supported through sponsorship, developmental workshops and peer and individual coaching. 

This programme champions the creation of public value and an ethical engagement with the multiple interests involved in public, private and third sector collaborations. The overall ethos of this programme will focus on developing both you and your organisations simultaneously.

Learning and assessment

Each module will be facilitated by a team consisting of internationally-recognised academics representing different disciplines from within Cardiff Business School and across the University, along with a wide range of experienced practitioners from different services, advisory bodies and think tanks. Coupled with your own extensive and varied experience, this approach is seen as key to the ability to understanding multiple perspectives and behaviours, challenge ingrained assumptions and work collaboratively across boundaries, real or imagined. Masterclasses led by high profile guest speakers will provide additional opportunities to network and share learning about the challenges of strategy, innovation, leadership and change.

Modules will use challenges as a stimulus for learning. These will arise from issues identified during field trips to unfamiliar organisations, case studies, scenario-based provocations for policy implementation or user-centred consultancy challenges. Drawing on techniques arising from action, problem-based and similar learning methodologies, participants will be encouraged to move between ‘the balcony and the battlefield’, focussing on issues such as the quality of evidence, approaches to data analysis, identifying key interdependencies, contrasting value assumptions, building influence and legitimacy, initiating and maintaining action, etc. The focus will be on developing awareness of the dynamic and complex process of collaborative meaning making. This relies on high-level skills of self and group reflection rather than a dependency on simplistic task allocation and mechanical models of problem solving.

Across the modules, you will also have the opportunity to work on individual impact challenges arising from your own organisation, facilitated by coaching circles composed of your fellow students and invited guests. This experience will provide opportunities to gradually put into practice some of the knowledge as well as the intellectual, professional and transferable skills necessary for successful completion of the final project and their future leadership practice.

Career prospects

The programme is designed for those already working in a public service. However, successful completion of the programme will enable participants to apply for more senior positions, and new hybrid roles emerging across the public services.


Visit the Public Leadership - MSc page on the Cardiff University website for more details!

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