MA International Education (Curriculum and Pedagogy) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Contemporary Issues in Education Leadership

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70331
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes



The course unit will introduce contemporary issues in researching education leadership. It includes examining major schools of thought on education leadership (with variations e.g. school leadership). It seeks to relate leadership to educational matters in different social and cultural contexts and explores the preparation, training and developing of leadership identities.

This unit critically analyses and challenges the concepts of leader, leading and leadership.



This unit aims to:

  • To develop students’ knowledge and understanding of education leadership and to reflect upon its interpretation and application in different contexts
  • To enable students to engage critically with models of educational leadership, and also with the reasons for educational leadership’s popular conceptualisation as models;
  • To develop understanding of the relationship between performance, accountability and practice in educational leadership.

Learning outcomes


Category of outcome

Upon completion of the unit, students should be able to:


Knowledge and understanding

  • An understanding of major schools of thought on education leadership
  • An understanding of key ideas underpinning theories of education leadership
  • An understanding of educational leadership practices as they have developed in the context of educational institutions, education policy and in different social and cultural contexts
  • An understanding of research traditions and methodologies in educational leadership.

Intellectual skills


  • Critically thinking in relation to education leadership and its potential application to different contexts.
  • Critically examining theoretical perspectives on education leadership.
  • Critically examining the implications of education leadership theories for young people and education professional/workers in different social and cultural contexts.


Practical skills

  • Effectively contribute to debates about education leadership in different institutional, policy and socio-cultural contexts.
  • Examine institutional practices in the light of emerging understandings of education leadership.
  • Examine the relationship between the organisation and wider society through an analysis of access and equity.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Conceptual and analytical skills
  • Information handling
  • Group working


Teaching and learning methods



Hours Allocated

Staff/Student Contact




Private Study


Directed Reading


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available via Blackboard on the student system.

Recommended reading




Courtney, S.J., Gunter, H.M., Niesche, R., and Trujillo, T. (Eds.), (2020). Understanding educational leadership: Critical perspectives and approaches. London. Bloomsbury.




Bottery, M. (2004) The Challenges of Educational Leadership. London: PCP.

Currie, G. and Lockett, A. (2007) A critique of transformational leadership: moral, professional and contingent dimensions of leadership within public services organizations. Human Relations 60 (2), 341-370.

Courtney, S.J., McGinity, R., and Gunter, H.M. (Eds.), (2018). Educational leadership: Theorising professional practice in neoliberal times. London: Routledge.

Gewirtz, S. (2002) The Managerial School. London: Routledge.

Grace, G. (1995) School Leadership: Beyond Educational Management. London: The Falmer Press.

Gunter, H.M. (2001) Leaders and Leadership in Education. London: PCP.

Gunter, H.M. (2012) Leadership and the Reform of Education. Bristol: Policy Press.

Gunter, H.M. (2015) School Leadership: An Intellectual History of Research and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Press.

Gunter, H.M., Hall, D. and Bragg, J. (2013) Distributed Leadership: a study in knowledge production.  Educational Leadership, Management and Administration. 41 (5) 556 - 581.

Hall, D., Gunter, H.M. and Bragg, J. (2013) Leadership, New Public Management and the remodelling and regulation of teacher identities. International Journal of Leadership in Education. 16 (2), 173-190.,

Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D. and Steinbach, R. (1999) Changing Leadership for Changing Times. Buckingham: OUP.

Lingard, B., Hayes, D., Mills, M. and Christie, P. (2003) Leading Learning. Maidenhead: OUP.

Lumby, J., Crow, G. and Pashiardis, P. (eds) (2008) International Handbook of the Preparation and Development of School Leaders. New York: Routledge.

MacBeath, J. (1998) Effective School Leadership. London: PCP.

Smyth, J. (ed) (1989) Critical Perspectives on Educational Leadership. London: Falmer Press.

Thomson, P. (2009) School Leadership, Heads on the Block? London: Routledge.


Further Reading


Ball, S.J. (2010) New voices, new knowledges and the new politics of education research: the gathering of the perfect storm? European Educational Research Journal. 9 (2), 124-137.

Ball, S.J. (2012) Global Education Inc. Abingdon: Routledge.

Barker, B. (2007) The leadership paradox: can school leaders transform student outcomes? School Effectiveness and School Improvement. 18 (1), 21-43.

Foster, W. (1986) Paradigms and Promises. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Rizvi, F. and Lingard, B. (2010) Globalizing Education Policy. London: Routledge.  

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 30
Lectures 20
Project supervision 40
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 58

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Belinda Hughes Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Contact hours: 10 weeks at 2 hours per week

School responsible: Manchester Institute of Education, SEED

ECT: 7.5

Notional hours of learning: 150


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