BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Educational Leadership

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC34752
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The unit will consider the role and purpose of leaders in education, examine a range of leadership discourses, and draw on a mix of case studies and research from the field in order to discuss and debate key concepts. Students will consider a range of different leadership discourses. They will apply theories of leadership to cases from the field of education and explain the ways in which leadership may be operationalised in educational organisations. There will be the opportunity to critique some of these forms by subjecting claims to rigorous analysis. Contemporary research in the field will be drawn on to predict and explain possible future forms of educational leadership. Delivery will be via lectures, seminars, and reading. Assessment will be by a blog profile of an educational leader; and an end of unit assignment designed to invite students to display their critical thinking skills about leadership through writing about a case study, chosen by them, of educational leadership using the discourses and theories studied


The unit aims to:

  • Explore educational leadership and practices.
  • Critically assess the role of educational leaders in diverse contexts.
  • Further students’ knowledge of a relevant body of educational leadership literature
  • Develop powers of critical reasoning.
  • Develop students presentational, writing and bibliographic skills.


The syllabus or indicative content will be drawn from a range of leadership literatures generally, and educational leadership literatures specifically. This will be combined with a variety of case studies of educational leaders which students will analyse in the first half of the unit before producing a blog about a leader of their choice to evaluate their impact. In the second half of the unit, students will gather data from secondary sources to research the leadership of an educational organisation around which they will base a presentation.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures: Lectures will be attended by all students. Relevant themes and issues will be introduced through presentations and discussions of varied examples of educational leadership. Researchers in the field of educational leadership will present their research and explain why they undertook their particular studies and what they hope to achieve. Other sessions will focus on interpretation and critical reading of specific research studies and case studies.  Interaction will be facilitated between students and tutor/presenter; between peers; and between students and content.

Seminars: Small groups of students will meet to review articles and texts about educational leadership.

Directed reading: Students will be directed to specific preparatory and review activities and materials for the sessions.

Private study: Students are expected to read widely from the reading list about educational leadership.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Define the role of leaders in education.
  • Identify trends in educational leadership.
  • Relate examples from education to leadership discourses.

Intellectual skills

  • Appraise educational leaders in a range of contexts.
  • Critically analyse how leaders enact education policy.
  • Perceive the importance of educational leadership for a socially just world.

Practical skills

  • Review educational policy and research about policy.
  • Theorise case studies of leadership in education
  • Develop and articulate informed personal opinions on leadership in education

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • The critical thinking about leadership in an education context will also be transferable to considering leadership other contexts.
  • Students will develop their ability to present and articulate in writing complex arguments.

Assessment methods

Assessment taskLengthWeighting
Blog article which profiles and critically assesses a leader in the field of education.1000 words25%
Written assessment based on a case study of educational leadership chosen by the student drawn from secondary materials and critically analysed using relevant theories covered by the course.2000 words75%


Feedback methods

Written feedback on assignments will be provided within 15 working days from the final submission deadline.

Recommended reading


Ball, SJ 2011, The Micro-Politics of the School: Towards a Theory of School Organization. London: Taylor & Francis Group.

Ball, S., M. Maguire, and A. Braun. 2012. How Schools Do Policy: Policy Enactments in Secondary Schools. New York: Routledge.

Bell, L., and H. Stevenson. 2015. “Towards an Analysis of the Policies That Shape Public Education: Setting the Context for School Leadership.” Management in Education 29 (4): 146–150.

Cliffe, J., Fuller, K., & Moorosi, P. (2018). Secondary school leadership preparation and development: Experiences and aspirations of members of senior leadership teams. Management in Education, 32(2), 85–91.

Courtney, S. J. Understanding Educational Leadership: Critical Perspectives and Approaches. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic

Courtney, S., and Gunter, H. (2015). “Get off my bus!” School leaders, vision work and the elimination of teachers. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 18(4), 395-417.

Ehren, M., and J. Perryman. 2018. “Accountability of School Networks: Who is Accountable to Whom and for What?” Educational Management Administration & Leadership 46 (6): 942–959.

Ellis, V., Mansell, W., & Steadman, S. (2020). A new political economy of teacher development: England’s teaching and leadership innovation fund. Journal of Education Policy, 1–19.

Glatter, R. 2021. “The ‘Independent State School’ and Its Aftermath: Implications for the Processes and Structures Surrounding School Leadership.” School Leadership & Management 41 (1-2): 93–116.

Gibson, M. T. 2018. “Leadership Preparation and Development Within a Multi-Academy Trust: Self-Improving or Self-Serving?” Management in Education 32 (2): 92–97.

Gunter, H. M., Hall, D., & Apple, M. W. (Eds.). (2017). Corporate elites and the reform of public education (1st ed.). Bristol University Press.

Harris, A. (2007). Distributed leadership: conceptual confusion and empirical reticence. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 10(3), 315-325.

Hall, D. 2013. “The Strange Case of Distributed Leadership in Schools in England.” Educational Review 65 (4): 467–487.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 80
Lectures 24
Seminars 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 90

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mark Innes Unit coordinator

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