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Executive Leadership

This course recognises and teaches three key aspects of leadership crucial to an organisation's success; the personal leadership of its key staff; the organisational leadership it exhibits in its sector and the ethical leadership. To support leaders to respond to these demands, we have designed a development course that uses 21st century approaches to meet the challenges we all face.

In this course we show how leaders in organisations can develop and nurture strategic thinking at all levels. Understanding the importance of being a strong role model, up to date approaches to ethics and governance feature throughout. You will have the opportunity to identify and develop personal effective leadership traits and behaviours that are necessary to succeed in the emerging borderless, anarchic and knowledge-driven global economy.

An integral part of the programme is a period of study at the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, USA. Boston College is one of the world's leading universities. Here we offer an unrivalled opportunity to meet with and discuss how world-class CEOs are constantly innovating and re-inventing their organisations to stay ahead.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

Applicants must:

(a)have gained:

(i) a second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and

(iii) five years of experience in a senior managerial/leadership role;


(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent, e.g. a minimum English level of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with no band score under 5.5);

or, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b):

(c) in exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

Candidates are normally required to hold a current senior managerial position or aspiring to work in a senior role. If unemployed, candidates should have previously been employed in a senior management role normally within the last three years.

Candidates will be interviewed by the Course Director prior to acceptance on the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme. However, participants must register for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award.

No exemption shall be permitted from the dissertation.



The programme is structured around nine taught modules each lasting three days and one five day module delivered at the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, USA. In addition, participants complete a Research Study (Dissertation project).

Careers or further progression

Career options

Current students occupy relevant and worthwhile careers but this programme supports continued career development whereby some students have progressed to senior executive and boardroom positions following completion of the programme. For those who wish to maintain their links with academia, there is an option to pursue further studies at PhD level.

Graduates of the programme have written research papers and have presented at a number of International and Leadership Conferences.

Further enquiries

T: +44 (0)28 9036 6309

Dorothy McKee
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8601

Subjects taught

Year one

Creating the future
The module aims to equip course students with an appreciation of the value of scenario planning within their organisations. As such, course members will be introduced to a range of tools and techniques which will enable them to manage the future in a more proactive and creative way.

Leading for the future
The aim of this module is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the leadership literature to enable them to assess their leadership capabilities and skills. To assist with this process, course members will be introduced to a range of psychometric tools and techniques. This will provide each individual with a holistic and objective view of their leadership abilities which will inform a personal and organisational leadership development strategy.

Science and Psychology of Customer Experience
This module is optional
Now, more than ever, customer experience plays a pivotal role in the success and longevity of a company. Examining a range of scientific tools and global data, the module provides a guide on how to master the challenges of the market, and how to deliver superior performance through effective customer experience management.

Leading in a Digital Age
This module is optional
This module will equip students with critical theories and concepts to analyse and differentiate the strategic values of emerging technologies (cloud computing, social media, big data, the internet of things etc.), and evaluate different methods of aligning technological opportunities with business strategy; critically reflecting upon its impact on Leadership.

Managing in Practice
This module is optional
As a rule of thumb, training is formal and linear, it's to do with learning how to do something specific, relating to skill and competence. Training can be as simple as using a PC application and as complex as learning how to be a pilot.

Development however is often less structured and has a wider application, giving the individual the tools to do a range of things that relate to capability and competency, in this case across the range of management practices. It involves progression to a more advanced, mature or complex understanding, establishing a process that helps a student manage their development on an ongoing basis.

Study Visit
This module is optional
This module introduces course members to a series of quality-award winning organisations in the US, or other location as appropriate, and provides them with a practical insight into the methodologies and approaches employed in such organisations that have achieved transformational change and business excellence.

Leading Change Innovation and Transformation
This module is optional
The leading change innovation and transformation module encourages participants to shift paradigms, think beyond the "silo" and consider innovative approaches to business excellence. A range of analytical tools and techniques are discussed and used. At the same time implementation issues around continual improvement mechanisms are addressed.

People are the key to success. This module therefore addresses issues of strategic human resource management (SHRM). Critical linkages are examined between SHRM and approaches to organisation development.

Examples of best practice are incorporated for purposes of benchmarking. Innovative approaches to business excellence, strategic human resource management and change management underpin this module.

Strategic Marketing
This module is optional
This module introduces and examines the principal concepts and theories of strategic marketing and its practical application to organisations to create value and competitive advantage.

Corporate Governance and Business Ethics
This module is optional
This module focuses on the principles and practices of good governance and business ethics. Recognising that Boards of Directors need to be accountable and responsible, acting with integrity whilst balancing the competing needs of a variety of stakeholders, this module gives participants the opportunity to explore best practice and critically evaluate their Board's performance. Standards of behaviour of Board members, as outlined by Nolan, will also be explored and personal practice assessed.

Strategic Financial Management
This module is optional
Strategic Financial Management can no longer be viewed as the preserve of accountants. The speed of change in the business environment means that organisations need to be agile and able to react quickly to changes in order to strengthen (or protect) competitive advantage.

This module focuses on the identification of the possible strategies capable of maximising an organisation's net present value, the allocation of scarce capital resources among the competing opportunities and the implementation and monitoring of the chosen strategy so as to achieve stated objectives.

Financial strategy is applicable to, and equally important in, organisations which do not seek distributable profits, emphasising that the key factor is the assessment of the value of the output of an entity and especially the excess of that value over the cost of inputs whether it be in the private, public, or social economy sector.

The module is theory based but practitioner focused and utilises a blend of participative learning strategies and methods.

Executive Coaching and Mentoring
This module is optional
This introductory module in executive coaching and mentoring affords participants the opportunity to further their knowledge and understanding of the coaching, mentoring and other associated literature. They will also be guided in a process of exploring themselves and their motivations and creating a personal development agenda to assist them to become reflective coach/mentor practitioners.

Year two

Research Study
This is the final module of the MSc Executive Leadership students are provided with an introduction to research methods and the research process. As an outcome of this module, students will have produced their research idea in the form of a research proposal and action plan, carried out the research and written up their findings. The final document will include a reflective statement on learning from the research journey.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2020/21

Postgraduate Information Session 20 February 2020
Register at:

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