Educational Leadership

In the current climate there is an expectation that leadership within educational institutions should be focused on: improving student performance, providing high quality learning experiences as well as the professional development and motivation of staff.

This MSc recognises that a high-quality educational system depends on leaders from all walks of life and all types of positions, regardless of title. It is intended, therefore, to provide leadership development for people who work in all manner of roles in the educational system: classroom teachers, formal school leaders, local authority personnel, policymakers, and any individual with a direct interest in the primary and post-primary school sectors.

The programme aspires to equip you with the necessary knowledge, skills, and creative capacity to respond to a variety of leadership challenges faced in contemporary educational institutions. We will challenge traditional notions of 'leaders' and 'leadership' pointing to new, more collaborative and more organic models of leading.

It is expected that graduates will be able to inform their professional practice with the latest research evidence in the field to nurture meaningful relationships in educational communities, address issues of equity and diversity, support teaching and learning, and ultimately ensure quality outcomes which are tailored to contextual needs. We seek to develop in students the ability to critique current leadership practices and to enact changes that will improve education for all.

Educational Leadership highlights
Our educational research has been ranked 4th within the UK in relation to research intensity with 87% assessed as 'internationally excellent or world leading' (REF, 2014).

Student Experience
•Students are actively involved in sessions (student-led) and there are opportunities for small group work and presentations.
•Assignments are tailored to topics of interest to each individual student.
•There is an international outlook on leadership issues.
•The international mix of students enables exchanges of knowledge, experience, and perspectives.
•Credit transfer Students who have completed other master's-level awards, eg PGCE or Professional Qualification for Headship (PQH) within the last 10 years are eligible to credit transfer. The credit transfer application must be submitted at the same time as the online programme application as retrospective applications are not accepted.
•The programme is tailored to working professionals and as such a blended learning approach is used. Modules are made up of face to face lectures and online sessions. Lectures at Queen's take place in the evenings and online sessions can be completed off-campus. Part-time students can remain in their workplace during their studies and directly apply new knowledge in their settings.

Contact Teaching Hours
Medium Group Teaching
2 (hours maximum) lectures.

Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:
Evening Only

A combination of face-to-face sessions and online learning formats.

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements
A 2.1 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject discipline.

Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University may also be considered if they have at least two years of professional experience in an education, training or relevant context.

Closing date for applications: Wednesday 31st July 2019.
Late applications may be considered.

International Students
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
•Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
•Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


1 year full-time or 3 years part-time.

Teaching Times
A combination of face-to-face sessions and online learning formats.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
Some graduates have found this degree beneficial for improving leadership practice in their workplace. Others have found it beneficial in expanding the roles they undertake at work, and in gaining employment or promotion. Some progress to doctoral-level studies and research.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Further enquiries

Dr Gavin Duffy 
Programme Director

Subjects taught

Core Modules (all 20 CATS points):
An Introduction to Research Methods: Children, Young People and Education (compulsory)
This module will provide you with an understanding of differing perspectives that underpin quantitative and qualitative methodologies and is required preparation for your dissertation.

Leadership for Change (compulsory)
You will develop theoretical and practical knowledge of change in complex educational environments. Topics covered include: the nature and types of change; the process of organisational change covering phases from inception to institutionalisation; factors affecting the success of change at different levels; creativity and change; resistance to change; and the subtle ways in which culture influences the implementation of reform. Attention is paid to the role of different stakeholders in the school change process and on developing constructive dialogue for change by shifting the focus from the identification of problems to exploring possibilities.

Leadership Theory and Practice: an Overview (compulsory)
This compulsory module introduces leadership and organisational theories as they pertain to education. You are expected to develop understanding of the complex nature of leadership in educational institutions and appreciate the idea that 'good leadership' is always contingent upon the situation and context. Leadership practice is examined through different thematic lenses such as: human motivation theories; social systems theory; the concept of emotional intelligence; organisational culture and politics; partnership and collaboration; as well as equity and ethics.

School Effectiveness and School Improvement (compulsory)
We will examine current debates on what constitutes an effective school, the factors affecting school outcomes, and the implications for those assuming leadership roles. Attention is paid to the impact of inter- and intra-school collaboration on educational outcomes and the challenges posed by existing competitive structures internationally. You will learn how to use data critically in measuring school effectiveness and planning for improvement. We will look into how such data can be used to challenge inequities and promote a socially just education.

Two optional modules may be chosen from the Educational Studies (MEd) programme.

Assessment method

There are no written examinations. Modules are assessed by coursework, which includes written assignments and group presentation projects.

Application date

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year 2020

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