City scape

Executive Leadership

Developing resilient, agile leaders that can enhance the competitiveness of their organisation today and in the future.

As a director or senior executive, leadership is the most important part of your role. However, in a turbulent business climate, leaders cannot model themselves on leadership approaches from the past and expect to meet the demands of today. To support leaders to respond to these demands, we have designed a development programme that uses 21st century approaches to meet future challenges we all face.

The MSc Executive Leadership enables participants to explore how to develop individual and organisational leadership competence through becoming part of a global learning community. To be a strong role model is important too, so up to date approaches to ethics and governance feature throughout. However, the key to sustainable success is the capacity to lead through innovation, to outthink the competition and then to outperform it.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

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 seven 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.

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

Further enquiries

For further information on this programme, please contact:
Course DIrector: Dorothy McKee
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8601
M: +44 (0)75 4074 3138

Programme Administrator: Regina Haughey
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8565

Subjects taught

Taught Modules
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one
Creating the future
Year: 1
Status: C
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
Year: 1
Status: C
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
Finance can no longer be viewed as the preserve of 'experts'. 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
Status: O
Year: 1
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
Year: 2
Status: C
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.

Assessment method

Teaching and learning assessment
Assessment is by completion of work-based assignments.

Enrolment and start dates

Start date: October 2018

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!