MA in Applied Educational Leadership


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

If you're an educational professional looking to progress into management or consultancy, or an educational planning or development role, this is the ideal degree for you.

Provided by the UCL Institute of Education, this MA programme is available by distance learning, allowing you to study flexibly while balancing work and personal commitments.

By studying this programme, you will:

  • improve your understanding of educational leadership;
  • be able to apply theory and research in your current role;
  • foster your continuing professional development through reflection on practice;
  • contribute towards the improvement of educational systems and institutions and reflect on the quality of learning and teaching.

How you study

The programme is offered online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines) using the study materials provided, with support available from academic staff.

Study materials

Your study materials have been developed by academics in educational leadership from the Institute of Education. You will also receive additional readings that have been specially selected to complement the core course material.

Online support

When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) offers online learning support, focused conferencing and workspaces linked to specific activities, informal discussion areas, and links to resources.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.
  • Online tutors will mediate online conferences and provide advice on individual queries.

Time commitment

To complete the MA programme in the minimum study period (3 years), we estimate that you will need to study for approximately 10-15 hours per week.


Each module is assessed by a combination of coursework and a written exam (usually held in May). The dissertation is assessed by a project of 15,000 words.

You can sit exams at an approved centre anywhere in the world (mainly Ministries of Education or the British Council). Each centre charges a fee for hosting exams.

Programme structure

Two core modules:

  • Leading and managing educational change and improvement
  • Leadership for the learning community

Two optional modules:

  • Finance and resource management or
    Developing personal leadership skills
  • Exploring educational policy or
    Values, vision and moral purpose

And a dissertation

Entry requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in any subject (e.g. bachelor) comparable to a UK second-class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • At least two years’ experience as professionals in an educational setting, including experience of leading other educators. This is commonly a school, university or childcare setting, but we accept applicants from a wide range of educational institutions. As this is an applied course linking theory to practice, we also expect that you will remain in a leadership position throughout your studies.

Where an applicant does not have such qualifications, we invite them to set out in their personal statement why they are ready to engage with an academically rigorous programme.

If you have a qualification in an unrelated subject or an unconventional career path with diverse work experience, we will consider your application on its own merits.

English Language requirements

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to an overall score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, with at least 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. Certain courses may have additional requirements, such as software to manage spreadsheets and run macros.

Career opportunities

This programme is ideal both for those currently working in school leadership positions looking to advance their career, and in the wider field of education to pursue managerial, policy or consultancy roles.

The AEL programme has gained recognition for the International Baccalaureate advanced certificate in leadership research.

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

Study the MA Applied Educational Leadership, led by the UCL Institute of Education, anywhere in the world.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

We are one of the largest, most diverse universities in the UK with over 120,000 students in London, and a further 50,000 studying across 180 countries for a University of London degree.

We are one of the largest, most diverse universities in the UK with over 120,000 students in London, and a further 50,000 studying across 180 countries for a University of London degree. Read less
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