Blended online course

Educational Leadership in Practice

  • Qualification: MA, PGCert
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Delivery: Online with two conferences annually
  • Workload: Approx 20 hours per week
  • Next enrolment: September 2024
  • Fees: £17,000 (MA), £5,667 (PGCert)
Illustration of educational practitioners


Be the positive change your educational organisation needs

Education is constantly under pressure to conform to external requirements, especially with standardisation and teach to test sweeping the globe, steering policy and pressurising educational leaders.

This course will build your intellectual and practical confidence in all interactions; with teachers, parents, students, managers, board members and policymakers, to engage at a higher level and influence change.


Key features

Learn on the job

Take a critical and theoretical approach with practice-based learning that enables you create change in the workplace from day one.

Build a global network

Network with peers and experts during conferences held twice a year at our prestigious Manchester Centre.

Practise new skills

Learn from world-leading academics in educational policy and educational leadership including Dr Paul Armstrong from the Manchester Institute for Education.

Martin Lipton, Alumnus

"The course offered me the opportunity to really reflect on my leadership practice, and work with some high-class, model class individuals within MIE. This has allowed me to progress, not only my academic abilities, but also my professional abilities as well."

Martin Lipton
Deputy Head Teacher
Phorms Campus Berlin Süd


Try our free MOOC: Educational Leadership: Working for Good

Woman learning online

Our free MOOC covers the following topics

  • Researching leadership in the context of education and individual professional contexts.
  • Comparing and evaluating leadership models within education and how education, as an industry, is changing.
  • Comparison between national and international schools leadership.

Join the course for free

Key information

  • Delivery

    A mix of online content with face-to-face conferences twice a year

  • Duration

    Master’s - 24 month, part-time.

  • Enrolment dates

    Master’s – September.

  • Applications

    For more information on how to apply and what documents to submit with your application, please visit our application and selection section.

  • Workload

    Approx 20 hours per week

  • Course director

    Dr Paul Armstrong

Fees and funding

Total course tuition fees for Manchester in Sept '24 are £17,000 (MA) and £5,667 (PGCert).

You can save up to 15% on your tuition fees.

Please see our fees and funding section below for more details.We offer  payment by instalments  , so you can spread the cost of studying with us.

Explore a range of scholarships and bursaries available for this course below.

Find out more about fees and funding

Entry requirements

A good honours degree (minimum 2:1) or the overseas equivalent, in a related area. An initial qualification in teaching, or at least one year's professional experience in a public or private educational organisation, are desirable but not essential requirements. Applicants with a 2:2 will be considered if you have at least three years teaching experience.

A copy of your CV detailing your full work experience.

As part of the application process you will be asked to provide contact details for one referee, professional or academic. The University will contact your referees directly after you submit your application and direct them to complete our online reference form.

Find out more about entry requirements

Transform your career path

The course has given me so much personal development within myself. It has been exponential in my growth as a teacher and a leader. The University of Manchester has pushed me academically so that I could exceed my expectations and achieve my career goals.

Joleen Lewis
Further Education

Joleen Lewis

Teachers as learners: leadership can take the educational experience to the next level for teachers

Meeting with fellow students and educators and discussing common concerns, including global issues that affect education made my learning experience splendid.

Diana Wilson

Educational Leader

Diana Wilson

Contact us today


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Course overview

Who this course is for

If you’re a teacher or an educator looking to move into a leadership role within an education organisation, this course is for you. It will give you vital knowledge and skills to take your career to the next level, empowering you to lead with confidence and have a real impact. 

What you will learn

  • Gain a deep understanding of theories, research, intellectual debates, and best practice from across the globe.
  • Reflect on how these could apply to your own practice.
  • Develop higher-order thinking skills to inspire you as a leader of education.
  • Apply educational leadership skills and find solutions to real-world problems from local and global education organisations.
Dr Stephen Rayner, Lecturer

Where and when you will study

This fully-online, part-time master's means you can study from anywhere in the world and fit it around your day-to-day life. You will be expected to learn while you continue to work, and to use examples from your work throughout your study.

You will complete four taught units in year one, followed by two taught units and a research project in year two. You'll learn through a mix of interactive teaching and have plenty of opportunities to work collaboratively with your peers.

The benefits of a blended course

How it will benefit your career

  • You'll develop links between your learning and practice
  • You'll contribute to debates about research in educational leadership in a range of different contexts and from different perspectives
  • You'll reflect on how these could apply to your own practice
  • You'll demonstrate an understanding of education policy in and for understanding educational leadership and its relationship to wider changes at both national and international levels 
  • You'll develop critical skills on how reform agendas require problematisation to evaluate how they may disrupt or reproduce inequities

Changing the educational leadership landscape

This course not only provides you with a theoretical framework, but it also examines educational leadership issues in diverse international contexts.

David Buckley

Educational Leader

David Buckley
Meet the academics

Course units

  • Models of Educational Leadership

    Mandatory for: MA, PGCert

    • Explore conceptualising educational leadership practice as adjectival models
    • Consider what this means in diverse international contexts
    • Examine and evaluate a range of key models
  • Engaging with Research in Educational Leadership

    Mandatory for: MA, PGCert

    • What is educational leadership research?
    • What topics can be researched in education?
    • Why should research in education be taken seriously?
  • Leading Educational Change

    Mandatory for: MA

    • Examining what is meant by ‘change’
    • Counter-productive and productive motivators for and mechanisms for change
    • Critical perspective on leading change
  • Education Policy and Leadership

    Mandatory for: MA

    • What is policy and how is it ‘done’?
    • Policy architecture
    • Welfarism, social democracy and neoliberalism as policy architecture
  • Educational Leadership as a Social Practice

    Mandatory for: MA, PGCert

    • Educational leadership practice in a globalising education system
    • Getting and doing the job
    • Using research evidence
  • Optional Course Units

    Optional units for MA: 

    • Digital Technologies and Educational Leadership
    • Leadership of International Schools
  • Independent Supervised Study/Project

    Mandatory for: MA

    • Research Skills and the application of research to professional practice (30 credits)
    • Project-based enquiry (30 credits)

Course structure

Our online learning MA in Educational Leadership in Practice caters to the training needs of professionals around the world, whether you're looking to enhance your skills in leadership within schools or further your career in this area.

Successful leaders in education require a wide range of transferable skills and subject-specific knowledge in areas such as in education and social policy, leading organisational and educational change. 

At the start of your course in September, you'll have the chance to network with academics teaching the course, meet your peers and grow your network of global educational practitioners at a three-day conference in Manchester.

The Master's teaching comprises five core 20-credit units, one optional unit or apply for APL (see info below) and a 60-credit research project. The PGCert comprises three core 20-credit units.

Course learning aims

The course will equip you and develop:

  • A deep understanding of the theories, research and intellectual debates of the best leadership practice across the globe;
  • The oppportunity to develop networking opportunities with educational leaders in academia and within the sector;
  • A personal development plan for the year ahead;
  • The skills and knowledge to be the positive change your educational organisation requires by developing a critical approach to educational leadership and not a functionalist one;
  • The skills to use collaborative tools for online interaction;
  • Flexible and relevant tranferable skills of leadership that educational leaders require in their career and beyond.
The aim of the MA is to equip you with the skills and knowledge that educators and other similar education practitioners require for a successful career in your education organisations.  The course will offer you:
  • a balance between strategic focus, theoretical foundations and practical applications to apply directly into the workplace;
  • the chance to study a sector-inspired course that uses a Practice-Based-Learning approach;
  • practical experience is gained through the use of case studies and other hands-on activities, requiring the ability to process and find solutions to real-world problems;
  • insight into recent research and experience in the sector.

Teaching and learning

The course is mostly delivered online, allowing you to study flexibly and at a pace that suits your own requirements and lifestyle.

Academic teaching start dates:

  • September 2024 entry for MA/PGert - 2 September 2024

The welcome event and induction take place one week before the academic teaching start date. Our admissions team will confirm your induction date closer to the time.

Please ensure that you complete your registration ahead of your chosen entry date to gain access to the online learning material and library services.

You will also participate in and attend a conference at the start of the year:

  • Shanghai Centre - 20-22 September 2024
  • Manchester Centre - 20-22 September 2024
  • Dubai Centre - 27-29 September 2024
  • Singapore Centre - 27-29 September 2024

The course itself is taught from a critical and applied perspective, meaning practical elements such as problem solving and case studies will be able to be applied directly and immediately into your workplace.

Your teaching material and your study is via the University's e-learning system, which provides study materials, online resources and interactive online tutorial discussions with the module tutor and other course participants. 

You benefit from access to the University's Library, with more than 25,000 electronic journals and 400,000 e-books. 

Coursework and assessment

Each unit consists of 20 credits (excluding the final project) and requires a total of 150 hours of study per unit.

The units are mainly delivered in web-based format with each unit being studied over a three-month format period with a total of 150 hours of study (approximately 15 hours per week). There is also a three-day conference which takes place at the start of the teaching period each year.

There are no exams within the MA. Summative assessment comprises of individual and group courseworks, with two assessments per unit. We will provide online quizzes and activities through each unit as a method of formative assessments.

A final supervised project will consist of a 30-credit report on a literature or practice based enquiry. This will be an individual project whereby you will investigate some element of your educational leadership practice. 

The remaining 30 credits will be made up of three of the University's Research Skills Modules:

  1. Module 1 - Selecting and formulating a dissertation question/topic;
  2. Module 2 - Study design and methodology;
  3. Module 3 - Ethical, safety, social responsibility issues;

Each unit will be taught by an academic with extensive and valuable educational leadership experience delivering education courses nationally and globally.

While teaching on the course focuses on practical applications, it is informed by recent research and experience in the sector. A significant strength of our course is our institution access to research-led teaching and of the best collections of Manchester databases and learning materials in Europe. 

Admissions information

From your initial expression of interest right through to graduation, you’ll receive all the support you need. We can support you with enrolment and subject assistance, administrative logistics and fee options, online learning skills, workload management and special circumstances including a possible professional entry route.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

A good honours degree (minimum 2:1) or the overseas equivalent. An initial qualification in teaching, or at least one year's professional experience in a public or private educational organisation, are desirable but not essential requirements. Applicants with a 2:2 will be considered if they have at least three years teaching experience.

English language

In the case of non-native speakers of English an IELTS profile of 6.5 overall with no less that 6.5 in the writing component and no other subsection below 6.0


TOEFL internet-based score of 90 or more overall, with a minimum writing score of 22 and no other section below 20.


Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) overall score of 176 or above, with 176 in writing and no sub-section below 169


Grade C if taken before January 2015 (the Cambridge First Certificate in English is not acceptable).


Pearson test of English score of 59 or more overall, with a minimum writing score of 59 and no other subsection below 51

English language test validity
Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Application and selection

How to apply

Apply online    

Early application discount (10%):  Early application deadline: 19th May 2024 for Sept 2024 start date.

Alumni Discount (15%) If you have successfully graduated from a credit-bearing qualification at the University of Manchester or UMIST you can receive an alumni loyalty bursary, which is a 15% discount on the tuition fees that you are personally funding

One-discount policy:   We operate a one discount policy; Early Application, Alumni Loyalty Bursary and Scholarships are not accumulative. If you qualify for more than one discount or scholarship, you will be awarded the one that is the highest amount. 

If you have any questions regarding the course, please contact us on

For courses starting in September, applications will close at the mid-end of August.

Advice to applicants

The advertised fee covers your tuition. It does not cover your accommodation and flight costs when travelling to the face-to-face workshops/conferences in Manchester or Dubai or any of our international centres.


You can only take APL in place of one of the options if you have an equivalent course unit from prior study, or relevant professional experience (no older than 5 years) that maps with the learning outcomes of one of the optional course units. 

You will need to formally apply and complete an application form which will include providing a portfolio of evidence to support your learning and experience.  This goes to an academic panel for approval, and in exceptional cases, you may be called for interview to further demonstrate your learning and experience.

You can't use credits from a University of Manchester degree for APL without rescinding your previous degree and you're not able to use partial credits towards APL. They must come from a complete degree programme.

Please make initial informal enquiries to

If you are applying to the China Centre please contact

If you are applying to the Middle East Centre please contact   

Documents to submit

Please submit the following documents with your completed application form:

Copies of official degree certificates and transcripts of your previous study, showing the subjects taken and grades obtained. If these documents are in languages other than English, please provide official translations;

Your CV with details of your work experience;

Copies of English Language Certification, eg IELTS

As part of the application process you will be asked to provide contact details for one referee, professional or academic.  The University will contact your referees directly after you submit your application and direct them to complete our online reference form.

We also require a personal supporting statement (up to 500 words) and should explain what attracts you to apply to this course, what you hope to gain from this course and how it will help you achieve your aims or inspirations. 

How your application is considered

Once your application has been received, our Admissions team will contact you. We may ask you to submit additional information, if necessary.

Scholarships and bursaries

Postgraduate loans (UK/EU)

If you're an English or EU student living in the UK, you may be eligible for a loan from the government.

Manchester Master's Bursary (UK only)

We're committed to helping talented students access further education, regardless of background.

UK State School Teachers Bursary

Eligible teachers taking the MA Educational Leadership in Practice will receive a 50% bursary towards their course fees. To qualify for the bursary you will need to provide evidence that you work for a state funded school in the UK. This can be a reference from your employer, a pay slip or any other way you can evidence that you work in a UK state funded school.

Fees and funding

Total course tuition fees for Manchester in Sept '24 are £17,000 (MA) and £5,667 (PGCert).

The advertised fee covers your tuition. It does not cover your accommodation, travel costs or any other expenses that you may incur when attending face-to-face conferences/workshops/masterclasses/field trips.

Tuition fee discounts

  • Early application discount (10%): Apply on or before 19 May 2024 to receive 10% reduction on your tuition fee. To be eligible, you will need to submit a complete application on or before 19 May 2024 and if offered a place, you will need to accept your offer within two weeks from the date of the offer.
  • Alumni discount (15%): If you have successfully graduated from a credit-bearing qualification at The University of Manchester or UMIST, you can receive a 15% discount on the tuition fees that you are personally funding.

One-discount policy: Discounts and scholarships are not accumulative. If you qualify for more than one, you will be awarded the one that is the highest amount.

Employer funding

If you are looking to secure funding from your employer, we can help you build a business case or talk to your employer directly. Contact us on to arrange a consultation.

Payment by instalments

During registration you will have the opportunity to pay your fees in three equal instalments. Learn more.  

Additional cost information

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

Regulated by the Office for Students

The University of Manchester is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS aims to help students succeed in Higher Education by ensuring they receive excellent information and guidance, get high quality education that prepares them for the future and by protecting their interests. More information can be found at the OfS website.

You can find regulations and policies relating to student life at The University of Manchester, including our Degree Regulations and Complaints Procedure, on our regulations website.