Online course

Master of Leadership for Development

  • Duration: 24 months
  • Delivery: In partnership with the University of Melbourne
  • Workload: Approx 15 hours per week
  • Next enrolment: September 2022
  • Fees: $28,164 AUD
Woman working with a community in South Asia


Create change through collaboration

Learn to lead with confidence and tackle contemporary development challenges, working in partnership to find sustainable solutions.

This fully-online master's, delivered jointly with the University of Melbourne, focuses on the practical skills, global connections and collaborative outlook needed to make a real difference in the development world.


Key features

Learn on the job

Combine your studies with your work and start implementing change from day one.

Build a global network

Learn from development colleagues in different settings across the world.

Practise new skills

Build on your practical experience in simulations of real-world scenarios.

Seopedi Baitsile's story

It provides the theoretical background about the world’s development challenges, but is also future-focused and deliberate about making leaders in the sector.

Seopedi Baitsile
The Upcycle Project

Seopedi Baitsile profile

This degree is delivered in partnership with the University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne

Benefits of our collaborative approach

  • Draw on the combined strength of two world-class institutions.
  • Get a global perspective on development issues.
  • Learn from a joint team of international experts in the field.
  • Build diverse relationships and open doors for the future.

Key information

  • Delivery

    100% online courses developed to fit around your lifestyle and circumstances.

  • Duration

    Master’s - 24 month, part-time.

  • Enrolment dates

    Master’s – February and September.

  • Course director

    Applications are now open. Complete the contact form below and we'll email you with the details about the course or click Apply now at the top of the page.

  • Workload

    Approx 15 hours per week

  • Course director

    Jaco Renken (Manchester) and Violeta Schubert (Melbourne).

Fees and funding

This course is a joint master's with The University of Melbourne and The University of Manchester. The full course fee for September 2022 intake is $28,164 AUD .

The University of Melbourne is managing the admissions process. You will be expected to pay for each taught subject/unit ($3,520) as the unit starts at the beginning of each study period. This will take place in March, May, July and October of each year you study with us.

We can provide you with a payment plan and dates at your request. Please contact us and we'll provide you with the answer to any of your payment or admissions queries.  

Entry requirements

To apply for the Master of Leadership for Development you are required to have:

A bachelor degree with honours (minimum Upper Second (2:1) or international equivalent) and at least two years of documented, relevant work experience; or a H2B (70%) or equivalent at The University of Melbourne.

Find out more about entry requirements

Abhinav Nath's story

I am learning how to build a team together who believe in the same mission and also how to work with stakeholders to grow a non-profit organisation.

Abhinav Nath
Founder & CEO
NexTrack Consulting

Abhinav Nath headshot web

Contact us today

Complete the form below and our Course Advisor will contact you with the additional course information and relevant event invitations.

Please enter your first name.

Please enter your email address.

If you are a resident of Australia or New Zealand, your enquiry will be forwarded to the University of Melbourne and someone from their team will be in touch with you soon.

Course overview

Who this course is for

If you want to reposition yourself to take up a leadership role in the development sector, but don't want to take time out from your important work to study, this fully-online master's course will support you to learn on the job.

If you already work in or alongside the global development sector – as a manager, planner, policy maker, consultant, educator, entrepreneur, researcher, or community advocate – develop your skills, transform your career with us and change the world for the better.

Why study Leadership for Development?

What you will learn

  • Build your leadership capabilities, with strong foundations in sustainability and collaboration.
  • Learn to effectively navigate the complex circumstances and challenges of contemporary development.
  • Build practical skills for effective negotiation, diplomacy and cross-cultural communication.
  • Champion positive, proactive and improved social transformation in a global context.
  • Develop the digital competencies required in the modern development sector.

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 interactive teaching and have plenty of opportunities to work collaboratively with your peers.

How it will benefit your career

  • Build a professional network across the globe and be in prime position to hear about the latest international opportunities.
  • Through our highly interactive teaching platform, you'll learn from the experiences of colleagues and your fellow students in diverse settings and gain a broader perspective.
  • Hone your leadership skills and knowledge acquired through the course in your job from day one to start advancing in your role, working with complex stakeholders and organisations and beyond.
  • Build your resilience and practise applying your skills in real-life scenarios so you're ready for the situations you'll encounter as your career grows.

Course units

  • Contemporary Development

    • Consider how the changing global landscape affects the context of current development challenges.
    • Explore key development theories, paradigms and concepts.
    • Examine the implications of shifts in power for development.
  • Contemporary Leadership

    • Study the key aspects of leadership theory, specifically the foundations of exercising influence, and the role of situational factors.
    • Understand the different styles and models of leadership.
  • Leading Development

    • Examine the distinctiveness of leadership in the development sector.
    • Explore the changing meaning of leadership and implications of the post-heroic perspective.
    • Draw on key concepts and context to develop a model for leading in a global context.
  • Organisation Development and Change

    • Understand the organisational context of change initiatives.
    • Learn theoretical foundations and practical interventions from applied behavioural science.
    • Examine strategies for training leaders and succession planning.
  • International Management and Leadership

    • Understand the processes of internationalisation in multilateral institutions and NGOs.
    • Examine the challenges and opportunities for addressing global inequalities.
    • Explore global trends, including public/NGO-private partnerships, corporate social entrepreneurship, value chain arrangements and open innovation.
  • Leadership Skills in Action

    • Apply new knowledge and skills to simulated scenarios.
    • Practise the practical management of change and leadership in the context of real-life development challenges.
  • Project

    • Undertake a research-based activity using the knowledge and skills you've acquired.
    • Choose between a group project and an individual dissertation.

Course structure

This course is taught from a global, future-focused perspective, where you will explore key development theories, contemporary global issues in development, fundamental principles of leadership and the nuances of leading in development, the complexities of institutional structures and how to implement change within an organisational context.

With our focus on highly applicable skills and knowledge, you will also learn through interactive teaching the chance to experience and practice your developing leadership skills in real-world scenarios. 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.

Course learning aims

You will critically analyse the complexities of institutional structures and power relationships. You will develop leadership skills in a highly-complex sector and will learn to be able to navigate and make change happen.

This course is fully online, yet highly interactive. You'll have the opportunity to network with other development professionals who work across the globe and in different sectors such as multi-lateral organisations including the World Bank and UN, governments, public and private sector organisations, NGOs and charities.

You'll apply your learning and practical leadership competencies directly into your workplace, using real-life scenarios and global case studies. This is at the core of this course and sets us apart from other development courses globally.

Key thematic streams that run throughout each subject unit allow you flexibility to develop or hone your skills within a specific area. While addressing important competencies such as communication, decision-making and self-reflection, the design of subject modules ensure exercises and assessments are as practical and applicable to your professional leadership aspirations.

You will acquire critical reasoning and analytical expertise to interpret complex development situations and attain practical management and leadership skills to champion positive, proactive, and improved social transformation in this global context. This knowledge, analytical expertise and practical skills can transfer to a range of roles across different sectors, organisations and settings.

Teaching and learning

You will be studying course units from The University of Manchester and The University of Melbourne. Each institution is responsible for teaching three units over the two years.  

You will be provided with a comprehensive set of course materials at the beginning of each course unit from the institution teaching the unit. These interactive, specially designed materials provide an introduction to the issues and skills central to each unit and direct you to other study components such as further reading.

Each unit is supported by a virtual learning environment (VLE) where you can access all course materials, online reading lists, podcasts, and the University's extensive online library . You will have an induction to the two virtual learning environments at the start of the course.

Course units:

Contemporary Development

You'll examine the rapidly changing landscape of contemporary global development in order to provide the appropriate contextual background for the challenges currently facing leaders in development.

Contemporary Leadership

You'll examine the key aspects of leadership theory, specifically the foundations of exercising influence, and the role of situational factors that affect it. Key themes include understanding of the different styles and models of leadership, the distinction between role of manager and leader, connection between leadership and political and organisational governance, issues of power, dependencies, accountability and responsibility and the requisite qualities of leadership.

Leading Development

This unit examines the distinctiveness of leadership in the development sector. It critically explores the changing meaning of leadership and examine the implications of the post-heroic perspective on leadership for global development. It aims to answer questions such as, how do I lead? It'll address management performance specific to the Development sector.

Organisation Development and Change

You'll focus on the organisational context where development leaders plan and implement change initiatives. It examines innovative strategies for training and developing leaders, as well as planning and implementing succession in global development sector organisations. You'll work in teams, applying lessons learned from this module in the analysis of real-world change scenarios and leadership challenges.

International Management and Development Innovation

You'll examine processes of internationalisation in private-and public-sector, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organizations, examining the challenges and opportunities for addressing global inequalities.  You'll examine global trends including the formation of public/NGO private partnerships, corporate social entrepreneurship, new forms of business models, value chain arrangements and open innovation.

Leadership Skills in Action

You'll apply management and leadership knowledge and skills gained through the programme using adaptive simulations. The focus will be on the practical management of change and leading through challenges and uncertainties all related to a specific challenge and context. The simulation of scenarios will take place over the 10 weeks of teaching. It'll give you big problem areas to deal with using your analytical and critical skills you'll learn throughout the course.

Coursework and assessment

Each subject or unit will include different types of assessment.

These may include written assignments, peer reviews, reflective learning, scenario simulation reporting, group work and how you engage and contribute to group discussions.

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

In order to be considered for entry, you must have completed:

  • An honours degree in a cognate discipline (e.g. social sciences including anthropology; sociology; public policy; social policy; political science; media and communication; journalism; economics; management; population and global health; education; engineering; or architecture and public planning), or equivalent and at least two years of documented, relevant professional work experience, or
  • an undergraduate degree in a cognate discipline (e.g. social sciences including anthropology; sociology; public policy; social policy; political science; media and communication; journalism; economics; management; population and global health; education; engineering; or architecture and public planning), or equivalent, and at least two years of documented, relevant professional work experience, or
  • a minimum of eight years documented, relevant professional work experience. Candidates entering through this route will be registered for the master's certificate under a probation arrangement. Failure to pass all master's certificate course units in the first year of study will disallow registration for a higher-level qualification.

Meeting this requirement does not guarantee selection.

In ranking applications, the Selection Committee will consider:

  • prior academic performance; and
  • relevance of previous studies; and
  • relevant professional work experience

English language

English language entry requirements:

Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the following language requirements:

1. IELTS (Academic) Test score of 6.5 or more overall, with a minimum score of 6.5 in writing and a minimum score of 6.0 in the other subsections, or

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

3. Pearson Test of English score of 62 or more overall, with a minimum score of 62 in writing and a minimum score of 59 in the other subsections, or

4. Grade C in the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, or

5. Grade A in the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English.

(agreed by Melbourne, but subject to finalization of joint regulations)

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

As this is a joint degree with the University of Melbourne, when you apply you will be taken to Melbourne's online application form. A member of the Admissions team in Melbourne will be in touch with you soon.

Apply here

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

Advice to applicants

This first-of-a-kind, joint qualification draws on the combined strength of two world-class institutions: the University of Manchester and the University of Melbourne. The fully online course provides the flexibility to study around your commitments and complete the programme part-time over 24 months.

The course embraces action-based, reflective learning, facilitated through a comprehensive online platform, simulations, individual and group projects. The programme is designed to forge strong enduring networks among study fellows and alumni. Applicants from all disciplinary backgrounds are welcomed.


We offer the following scholarship for the Master of Leadership for Development.

Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship - one third of the tuition fee ($9,388 AUD)

Please submit your complete application, along with the scholarship application by the deadline date.

Our scholarship is competitive, based on merit and awarded to the strongest candidates. We operate a one discount/scholarship policy - discounts are not accumulative. There are specific criteria for each scholarship, therefore please review the individual scholarship information and details of how to apply.

Scholarship Application Deadlines

27th June 2022

How to apply for a scholarship

You should submit your application in the form of a PowerPoint Presentation. The presentation is a blank canvas to paint your picture and tell us what makes you stand out as a possible recipient of the scholarship in a more creative way.

We hope to learn about; your personality and personal and professional achievements, what motivates and interests you to study the Master of Leadership for Development course, and how you meet the specific scholarship criteria.

We expect our scholarship award holder to commit to be an outstanding alumni ambassador and contribute positively back to the School, organisations and communities.

When assessing applications we will consider your complete application for the Master of Leadership for Development course, along with the scholarship presentation.

Presentation Format

  • The presentation should be a maximum of 6 pages/slides
  • You will not deliver your presentation orally therefore think of the presentation as a ‘story book'. You are welcome to use diagrams, photographs etc., to illustrate your messages.
  • We will evaluate the presentation on the content, showing how you meet the scholarship criteria, not on technical expertise.

How your application is considered

When you submit your application, please provide a personal statement that outlines your personal motivation for pursuing the course in terms of future career ambitions, the nature of leadership/managerial experience and the relevance of prior qualifications in relation to this course, as it is keenly focused on the Development sector.

An education selection committee from both institutions will meet regularly to discuss and make a decision on your application.

Reduced tuition fee - Early application

Early application deadline:  23rd May 2022 : 10% tuition fee reduction ($2,816)

To be eligible for a reduced tuition fee, you will need to submit a complete application on or before the early application deadline date and if offered a place, accept your offer by the deadline in the offer letter (normally three weeks from date of the offer).

Scholarships and bursaries

For September 2022 the entry the fee is $28,164 AUD 

There is a 10% tuition fee reduction at  $2,816AUD if you apply by  27 June  2022

Alumni Loyalty Bursary (15%):  If you have successfully graduated from a degree at the University of Manchester, Melbourne or UMIST, you can receive a 15% alumni loyalty bursary

Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship  

Available scholarships: 1 x scholarship at one third of the tuition fee = $9,388 AUD

Deadline: Monday 27th June, 2022

Eligibility: A merit scholarship, open to all who can demonstrate their commitment to delivering against one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

As two of the world's leading universities, we are committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations through the work we do here at Manchester.

We award these scholarships to support opportunities for talented individuals interested in careers in development to learn from our experts and start, or continue, their journey into future development roles.

Scholarship Criteria

You will need to show/demonstrate:

  • Outstanding academic excellence: We will take into consideration your final degree classification
  • Strong motivation and potential to their commitment to delivering against one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (current work experience in the development sector may be required).
  • Determination to act as a role model for others in Development.

We may invite short-listed candidates for an interview.

A presentation will be required by 27 June 2022

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.