Programme overview

The upcoming Intake is now open for application

Qualification: MA, PGCert
Duration: 2 years (MA)
Study format: Part-time - Online with two face to face conferences annually (blended learning)

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.


Hear from Dr Paul Armstrong, Course Director, about our blended master's in Educational Leadership in Practice. >>

Programme Features


Identical UK awarded

The same Master degree certificate as our full-time and part-time students in Manchester

World recognized

The University of Manchester is ranked 27th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2022) (for 3 consecutive years) and 6th in the UK (QS World University Rankings for Education and Training 2021).

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 half-yearly at a location of alternate Hong Kong and Singapore.

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.

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.

Registration No. 253164. It is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recognise any qualification to which this course may lead.


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 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 >>

David Buckley
Accreditation Chair
Council of International Schools

Vice Principal at Glenealy School (HK)
English Schools Foundation (ESF)

"This course not only provided me with a theoretical framework, but it also examined educational leadership issues in diverse international contexts. At a time of great change in the industry, I need to take a more critical approach to educational issues and social policy. My role is quite practical, but I missed the theoretical side of it. The broad scope of the course allowed me to learn about things outside of my sphere, opening my eyes to wider issues and finding fresh approaches to pursue. I could broaden my horizons and influence my organisation’s decisions by creating impactful change." Read more >>

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 recognised honours degree or the overseas equivalent. An initial qualification in teaching, or professional experience in a public or private educational organisation, are desirable but not essential requirements. Applicants with a 2:2 will be considered if they have teaching experience.

English language

In the case of non-native speakers of English an IELTS profile of 6.5 overall with no less that 6.5 in the writing component and no other subsection below 6.0


TOEFL internet-based score of 90 or more overall, with a minimum writing score of 22 and no other section below 20.


Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) overall score of 176 or above, with 176 in writing and no sub-section below 169


Grade C if taken before January 2015 (the Cambridge First Certificate in English is not acceptable).


Pearson test of English score of 59 or more overall, with a minimum writing score of 59 and no other subsection below 51

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Application Process:

  1. Click here to submit an online application.
  2. Complete the online Application Form
  3. Submit supporting documents:
  4. • CV
    • 2 references
    • Digital copies of degree certificates and transcripts
    • Evidence of English language proficiency (if applicable)*
    • Statement of purpose (max. 500 words)

  5. Attend online one-to-one interview conducted by our Course Director (if required)

Tuition Fee and Discounts (September 2024 Intake)

Regular Tuition Fee: £17,000 (MA), £5,667 (PG Cert)

Tuition fee with 15% Discount: £14,450 (Applicable to MA only)

  • Payable in 4 equal instalment payments before the start of each semester
  • 15% Discount - ONLY application for September 2024 Intake MA students in East Asia (i.e. Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan)

Alumni Loyalty Bursary: 15%

One-discount policy: If you qualify for more than one discount or scholarship, you will be awarded the one that is the highest amount.

For details, please check with our admissions team.

Government loan for Hong Kong resident

If you are a Hong Kong permanent resident, you may be eligible for a Non-Means Tested Loan provided by the Government Student Financial Assistance Agency. The maximum loan is capped at the tuition fee payable, and the loan repayment period can extend to 15 years after programme completion (for details, please call 21506223).

*Name of Institution: University of Manchester / Course Code: B11060003

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.

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