Applied Educational Leadership and Management (MA, PGDip and PGCert)


Study for a prestigious MA in Applied Educational Leadership and Management by distance learning

For educational professionals based anywhere in the world who wish to become:

  • 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.

This course is available via distance learning, allowing you to study flexibly whilst balancing work and personal commitments.

Course summary

  You study Study period Cost (2017-2018)
MA 4 modules + dissertation 3-5 years £12,005
Postgraduate Diploma 4 modules 2-5 years £9,425
Postgraduate Certificate 2 modules 1-5 years £5,315
Individual modules All core and optional modules are offered as credit-bearing Individual modules. This is an ideal option if you're keen to update your professional knowledge, enhance your career or sample the programme. The Individual module fee is £2,400 in 2017-2018.

Course aims

The course will:

  • equip you with the knowledge to improve your understanding of educational management and leadership;
  • enable you to apply theory and research in your job;
  • foster your continuing professional development through reflection on practice;
  • allow you to consider issues related to the policy context of education;
  • 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

We estimate that you will need to study for about 10-15 hours a week.


The course has been developed by the UCL Institute of Education, the largest institution in the UK devoted to the study of education and related areas. 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.

The Institute hosts over 100 research and consultancy projects at any one time. UCL was ranked number one worldwide for Education in the QS 2015 and 2016 World University Rankings by Subject.

Students on the AELM programme can become Affiliate members of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which provides access to a wide range of resources and services. On completion of the MA degree, students will be eligible to apply for fast track professional recognition (ACMI or MCMI with three years’ management experience).

The AELM programme has gained recognition for the International Baccalaureate advanced certificate in leadership research. If you are an International Baccalaureate teacher, or interested in gaining this additional qualification, please visit:

Comprehensive study materials and support

The learning strategy for this course is collaborative insofar as you share your skills and experience with other students. You are supported by an online learning environment which incorporates focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities for each module. There are also informal discussion areas and links to online resources including library support. Study materials and course readings are provided.

Summary of key dates

Applied Educational Leadership and Management
Programme starts September January
Application deadline 18 August 31 October
Registration deadline 31 August 30 November
Online induction session starts September January
Start studying September January
Examinations take place May/June May/June

You may commence your studies in September or January. We allow you up to five years to complete your qualification. However, a typical route through the MA is shown below:

  September modules January modules
Year 1
(Core modules)
Leading and managing educational change and improvement  Leadership for the learning
Year 2
(Optional modules)
Finance and resource management 
Developing personal leadership skills
Exploring education policy 
Values, vision and moral purpose
Year 3 (Dissertation)
You will be supported by your tutor to produce a Dissertation of 15,000 words

Free education-related Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

As part of our portfolio of online courses offered through Coursera, we have three education courses led by academics from the Institute of Education. Registration and participation in these online courses is free, with a small fee paid at the end of the course if you wish to receive a certificate from Coursera.  

Course start dates vary but for more information and to sign up for future sessions, please visit the following pages:


Structure and syllabus

MA: 4 modules (2 core, 2 optional) plus a dissertation

Postgraduate Diploma: 4 modules (2 core, 2 optional)

Postgraduate Certificate: 2 core modules

Individual modules: the modules can also be taken individually for continuing professional development.

Core modules

Leading and managing educational change and improvement

This module introduces some of the basic theories relating to leadership and management in educational settings and considers how they might work in a range of situations and national cultures. Students are made aware that most theories of leadership and management are ‘Western’ in nature and are encouraged to consider their applicability to their own cultural context.

The individual organisation is looked at from the point of view of its structures, its own institutional culture and the way power is distributed. The implications of the changing division and allocation of power between national and regional government and the individual educational institution are considered. The key themes of institutional effectiveness and educational improvement and change are introduced in this module along with the related concept of evaluation.

Leadership for the learning community

This module starts by considering the question: what do we mean by learning? It then goes on to consider the implications for leaders and managers if they are to promote effective learning and the role of the wider community in supporting and enabling learning. The role of the staff within a school, college or educational system is key to success, and this module considers two ways in which human resource management links to learning and the implications of this for leaders and managers. The importance of continuing professional development for staff and the support and growth of learning communities is stressed. Finally, the module considers the importance of practitioners both using available research evidence and data from outside and from inside the institution and system.

Optional modules

Finance and resource management

This module explores the way in which resources for education are financed, in particular by central and local government, as well as with the management of finance and resources within educational organisations. Emphasis is placed on the criteria of efficiency and equity as guiding principles for the allocation of resources at all levels of decision making. Each of the sessions is concerned with a particular aspect of financial and resource management but all are underpinned by the need to plan, implement and evaluate resource use.  By the end of the module you should: be more aware of how to make your institution more efficient, effective and equitable; have an improved understanding of financial management and the financial systems within which you operate; and have developed skills of costing, budgeting and planning. In all of the sessions you will be looking critically at literature on managing finance and resources in education, some of which is theoretical and some of which reports research and practice. You will also be asked to consider the implications of what you are studying for your own practice.

Developing personal leadership skills

This module builds on the theories presented in the core modules to develop leadership skills that will benefit your organisation. Improve your skills and insights as a leader and manager of people utilising a range of case studies. Understand team building, decision-making and conflict resolution. Gain personal skills such as time and stress management and action planning.

Exploring educational policy

Identify how your institution is affected by national and international policy and change, including initiatives of access, equity and social justice. Understand national and global forces and how they impact on you and your institution.

Values, vision and moral purpose

Values and ethics are central to educational leadership and management. Moral philosophy is applied to real life situations to help you understand and examine your own values. Work with others to develop a vision and mission for your organisation. Examine strategies for change and improvement of organisational culture. Gain new insights into your role.

Dissertation (MA only)

Dissertation IOE

You will be supported by your tutor and through online seminars to develop a small research project on a topic of your choice related to educational leadership and management. The dissertation provides the opportunity for an extended piece of writing that will be valuable to you and your institution and will also provide excellent experience if you wish to continue your studies at doctoral level.

Please note that modules are offered in September and January as follows:

September modules:
YEAR 1: Leading and managing educational change and improvement (Core module 1) YEAR 2: Finance and resource management OR Developing personal leadership skills.

January modules:
YEAR 1: Leadership for the learning community (Core module 2) YEAR 2: Exploring education policy OR Values, vision and moral purpose.

Study materials

How you study

The programme is supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which incorporates:

  • focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities for each module
  • informal discussion areas
  • online learner support
  • links to online resources including library support.

When you register, you will have access to materials specially written for the course by a team of academic experts in the field of educational management and leadership. You will also be given additional readings, specially selected to complement and extend the dedicated written material.

The teaching and learning strategy for the programme stresses the importance of working with colleagues in the VLE to develop your understanding of the areas of study. Comparing experience with colleagues in a range of locations and cultures will allow you insights into professional practice.

In your work you will be supported by tutors who will mediate the online conferences and who will also provide advice and responses to individual queries. Working within a VLE will provide you with a unique opportunity of acquiring a range of skills associated with online learning including group working skills and technical skills.

An online community

Working from your own home and/or place of work, you will become part of a virtual learning community, studying collaboratively with your fellow students and an online tutor. The VLE allows you to access learning materials, share documents, and interact with colleagues and tutors. The online environment also links to other resources such as the Online Library (which includes journals, databases and referencing tools) and informal discussion areas. Here you can share insights and support each other as you progress through the programme.

What our students say

" It's important to me that we can communicate with the tutors. They are always willing to provide help. Their support gives you a lot of courage."

Demetra Ioannou current student, Cyprus



The fees below refer to the 2017-2018 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2017. Fees are subject to annual review. 

Registration fee£ 1,205
Fee per module£ 2,055
Fee for dissertation (MA only)£ 2,580
Total Postgraduate Certificate£ 5,315
Total Postgraduate Diploma£ 9,425
Total MA£ 12,005
Total per Individual module (taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 2,400
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;
Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order 

Further details are given in payment methods.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



Each individual module (except for the dissertation) will be examined by a combination of a three-hour unseen written paper and coursework. The dissertation will be assessed by submission of a 15,000-word research project.

Examinations take place once a year in May/June. If you fail an examination at the first sitting you will be allowed one further attempt. Examinations are normally held in a student's country of residence. We have examinations centres in over 140 countries worldwide. For further details please see the Assessment and examinations section of our website.


Academic Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree, in any subject, from an institution acceptable to the University, together with at least two years relevant work experience.

Please note we accept qualifications from around the world. For further guidance please see our UCL Institute of Education Qualifications for Entrance.

If you do not meet the entrance requirement you may still apply. Each application will be considered on an individual basis.

Technical skills

Word-processing, Internet and email skills are all basic requirements of this programme. No previous experience of computer conferencing is required as these skills will be developed during the course.

Before submitting an application, informal queries regarding the course entrance requirements can be submitted to the Student Advice Centre and queries regarding the content of the course can be addressed to

Language requirements

You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed, within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System when an overall score of at least 7.5 is achieved with a minimum of 7.0 in the Reading and Writing sub tests.
  • (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language overall score of 115 or above with at least 28 in both Reading and Writing Skills sub-tests and at least 27 in both Speaking and Listening sub tests.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

Academic leadership: UCL Institute of Education

UCL Institute of Education is the largest institution in the UK devoted to the study of education and related areas. 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.

Academic leaders

Dr Rupert Higham, Programme Manager

Dr Rupert Higham has recently been appointed Lecturer in Educational Leadership at UCL Institute of Education. Previously he worked with Master’s students from around the world on the Educational Leadership and School Improvement programme at the University of Cambridge.

Rupert’s research is on responsible leadership, educational dialogue and values-led school improvement. These fields are tied together through a focus on building teacher and student agency. He has worked with the Index for Inclusion in several countries, with a network of international schools in deepening democratic cultures and practices, and on improving the quality of learning dialogues. He also has a strong interest in philosophy of education – in particular dialogic theory and the work of John Dewey.

You can view Dr Higham's full profile on Member Institution: UCL website.

Apply online

Alumni Inspiration: MA Applied Educational Leadership and Management

Maura Selden who recently graduated with the MA Applied Educational Leadership and Management, speaks about why she chose to study this degree and how it has helped her both professionally and personally.