Programme overview

Upcoming intake: September 2022
Duration: 2 years Study format: Part-time (blended learning)
Regular tuition fee: £12,500
Total tuition fee: £10,625 (only for September 2022 Intake)

Be the positive change your educational organisation needs

Education is constantly under pressure to conform to external requirements, especially with standardisation and teach to test sweeping the globe, steering policy and pressurising educational leaders.

This programme will build your intellectual and practical confidence in all interactions; with teachers, parents, students, managers, board members and policymakers, to engage at a higher level and influence change.


Programme Features

Learn on the job

Take a critical and theoretical approach with practice-based learning that enables you create change in the workplace from day one.

Build a global network

Network with peers and experts during conferences held twice a year at Hong Kong and Singapore Campuses.

Practise new skills

Learn from world-leading academics in educational policy and educational leadership including Prof Helen Gunter and Dr Alexander Gardner-McTaggart.

Flexible study

Studying a flexible course means you can learn while you continue to work and apply the skills and knowledge you learn immediately into the workplace.

World recognized

The University of Manchester is ranked 27th in the world and 6th in the UK (QS World University Ranking 2022) (for 3 consecutive years).

Who this programme is for?

If you are looking to move into a leadership role within an education-related organisation, e.g., a Principal, Head, Board-member, NGO leader, Administrator, senior management and policy maker, this programme is for you.

Our programme aims to reinvigorate your practice, elevating your goals and approach, interviewing with confidence for leadership, holding your own and making a mark. It will give you the chance to be the change in your organisation. Your wide knowledge base and transferable skills in problem-solving, strategic thinking, teamwork, creativity and communication will fit what most employers are seeking.

How it will benefit your career?

  • Gain a deep understanding of theories, research, intellectual debates, and best practice from across the globe.
  • Reflect on how these could apply to your own practice.
  • Develop higher-order thinking skills to inspire you as a leader of education.
  • Apply educational leadership skills and find solutions to real-world problems from local and global education organisations.

Course units

1. Models of educational leadership

  • Explore conceptualising educational leadership practice as adjectival models
  • Consider what this means in diverse international contexts
  • Examine and evaluate a range of key models

2. Engaging with research in educational leadership

  • What is educational leadership research?
  • What topics can be researched in education?
  • Why should research in education be taken seriously?

In this unit, you'll learn about the empirical literature base and develop the skills to review this literature purpose and practice as well as determine trustworthiness. You'll engage in theory and understand the impacts and uses of this research. You'll have the opportunity to reflect on your own practice and think about how your learning might influence your professional work.

3. Leading educational change

  • Examine what is meant by ‘change’
  • Counter-productive and productive motivators for and mechanisms for change
  • Critical perspective on leading change

In this unit, you'll examine how notions of ‘change’ are located within ideological, political and epistemological contexts and structures and how the ‘school effectiveness and school improvement’ movement exemplifies this. You'll develop critical skills on how reform agendas require problematisation to evaluate how they may disrupt or reproduce inequities. In other words, who benefits from the proposed changes? Who loses? What can be done about that as a leader? What place do values have in the proposed changes? Whose values are they?

4. Educational policy and leadership

  • What is policy and how is it ‘done’?
  • Policy architecture
  • Welfarism, social democracy and neoliberalism as policy architecture

This unit focusses on how international discourses variously enable or hinder certain policies and/or reform agendas. You'll examine the role of educational leadership in policy reform, welfarism and The Great Reform Movement (GERM). You'll demonstrate an understanding of education policy in and for understanding educational leadership and its relationship to wider changes at both national and international levels. You'll show an understanding of key ideas underpinning changes and developments in education policy and in education policy that concerns leaders.

5. Educational leadership as a social practice

  • Educational leadership practice in a globalising education system
  • Getting and doing the job
  • Using research evidence

After completing this unit you'll be able to demonstrate an understanding of the literature sources and issues related to collaborative practice and have an enhanced appreciation of the opportunities of, and barriers to, collaboration. You'll develop links between your learning and practice. You'll contribute to debates about research in educational leadership in a range of different contexts and from different perspectives, with a specific focus on collaboration and conduct a small-scale investigation in a systematic manner. You'll reflect on your own practice and think about how your learning might influence their professional work.

6. Accreditation of applied learning/optional course units

Digital technologies and educational leadership

Leadership of international schools Leadership of International Schools unit is arranged into four themes:

Theme 1: Historical overview and Examining internationalism and Global Citizenship The birth and expansion of international schools. How notions of ‘internationalism and Global Citizenship’ are located within ideological, political and epistemological contexts and structures. How international schools and related bodies extoll and promote this.

Theme 2: A critical perspective on implementing emancipatory education How private school organisation requires problematisation to evaluate how they may disrupt or reproduce inequities. In other words, who benefits from the proposed changes? Who loses? What can be done about that as a leader? What place do values have in the proposed changes? Whose values are they? How state sector professional preparation fails to equip leaders with the critical tools for high-stakes independent leadership.

Theme 3: Problematic influencers of change in international settings Overarching responsibility. Permanent transformation. Balkanisation. Cultural considerations. How these impact teacher professionalism, motivation and retention.

Theme 4: Productive motivators for leading internationally Human rights and educational focus. Breaking down hierarchies – working to develop educational values. Global Citizenship Education as leadership discourse.

7. Independent Supervised Study/Project

  • Research skills and application of research to professional practice
  • Project-based enquiry

The above information is correct at time of publication (April 2020) but subject to change


Hear from our students - Watch the video >>

Alas Haddad
IBDP Coordinator
National Orthodox School

"I’m currently the IBDP coordinator at my school. We’ve recently implemented the IB programme and so in order to better lead people that are new to this type of curriculum and new to this programme entirely, I thought this course could really give me the support that I need."

Karina McLaughlin
Class Teacher, Senior Leader, Maths and Phase Lead

"I chose Manchester because I came here for my undergraduate degree and my PGCE, so I know of the university’s reputation and there wasn’t really anywhere else offering the course, as it is here, and this was the best fit for me really, I’m excited. I’m a mum of four, so I knew I needed something online but also I wanted that personal connections and accountability to someone rather than an online-only course. I felt like the blended option gave me that University feel, while still being able to complete the course online, bit of both."

Martin Lipton
Deputy Head Teacher
Phorms Campus Berlin Süd

"From looking online at the different courses, Manchester offered me the best opportunity to work alongside top researchers in their field who were able to give me insight into educational leadership, because obviously I’m looking to move into a position where I am leading or a leading figure in the education, particularly within the bilingual or international context."

Melody Grace
English, Drama, PSHE and Re Teacher and Exams Officer

"One of the reasons I chose Manchester was because the course is focused on being kind of on the leadership not just education in general and being able to do it as blended learning course from a distance living in Suffolk is ideal being a full-time teacher."


Academic entry qualification:

A Bachelor's degree with satisfactory academic performance from a recognised institution. If you would like to check your eligibility, please email your CV to

English language requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall with no less than 6.5 in the writing component and no other subsection below 6.0
  • TOEFL (iBT): 90 overall, with a minimum writing score of 22 and no other section below 20

Tuition Fee and Discounts (September 2022 Intake)

Regular Total Tuition Fee: £12,500
Tuition fee with 15% Discount: £10,625

  • Payable in 4 equal instalment payments before the start of each semester
  • 15% Discount - ONLY to September 2022 Intake students in East Asia (i.e. Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South China)

For details, please check with our admissions team.

Tax deduction expenses of self-education in Hong Kong

Tuition fees of The University of Manchester - MA Educational Leadership in Practice is deductible under salaries tax. The link below will take you to further information about what you can claim for and when you should make a claim. More on deductions for expenses of self-education.