University of Chester

Programme Specification
Educational Leadership MA
2014 - 2015

Master of Arts

Educational Leadership

Educational Leadership

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester

Riverside Campus

Continuing Professional Development


3 Years

6 Years




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes



PG Assessment Board

Saturday 1st June 2013

Programme Aims  

  • To facilitate critical reflection and informed professional judgement on national policy initiatives and changing contexts related to leading in educational settings
  • To allow critical understanding of leadership, encompassing theories, concepts and practical applications facing leaders in times of change
  • To enable evidenced and effective responses to current challenges and to facilitate confidence and  innovation in leadership   

Programme Learning Outcomes

At the end of the programme students will have:

  • Critically engaged with education policy and practice and demonstrated informed perspectives about leadership in educational settings.
  • Interrogated, examined and applied a range of theoretical ideas and frameworks for thinking conceptually about the process of leadership in different contexts.
  • Critically appraised concepts of change, continuity and effectiveness in leadership in relation to the educational improvement agenda.
  • Developed key knowledge, understanding and skills in educational leadership that are underpinned by increased self -awareness and an enhanced capacity for criticality and meaningful reflection.
  • Identified approaches to promote and evaluate leadership impact, influence and outcomes.


Knowledge and Understanding

  • Critically engaged with theoretical frameworks and literature;
  • Harnessed insights into subject knowledge;
  • Critically reflected on the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry;
  • Applied critical considerations when undertaking research;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills
  • Made critical use of research evidence;
  • Formulated valid conclusions that link theory to practice;
  • Thought independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas.

Practical Skills
  • Critically reflected upon aspects of professional practice in the light of key theoreticalperspectives;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

Key Skills
  • Written to academic standards required at M level;
  • Engaged in meaningful debate and critical discussion;
  • Read critically;
  • Synthesised written and oral information;
  • Maintained a learning journal where appropriate.
Application of Number
  • Selected and used appropriate research methodology, methods and applications for data handling.
Information Literacy and Technology
  • Used the University's VLE to access information;
  • Used electronic research skills;
  • Accessed databases for research and information;
  • Used the University's e-Portfolio to maintain a professional learning journal where appropriate.
Improving Own Learning and Performance
  • Critically reflected on professional practice;
  • Developed new pedagogical and leadership skills;
  • Used initiative and managed own learning;
  • Made independent use of supervision.
Working with Others
  • Engaged in group presentations and disseminations;
  • Worked with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice.
Problem Solving
  • Generated and applied new knowledge;
  • Analysed complex concepts.

Transferable Professional Skills
The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

The MA Educational Leadership is designed primarily for educators serving in all types of schools (including academies and Free Schools) and colleges as well as professionals working in Children's Services, who already have a responsibility for leading or aspire to a leadership role and who wish to study at Postgraduate Level.

The Professional Development Review (PDR) module is anticipated to be the first module for all students (except where APL is 120 credits). This enables participants to review their personal biography and to reflect critically on their professional learning journey so far. The module facilitates greater recognition on the part of students of their own professional strengths and capabilities as managers and leaders and, in doing so, enables them to evaluate both their past experiences and their current role. The increased self-awareness derived from this critically reflective analysis of experience also provides students with the means to identify areas of need and to set goals for future professional development. Students are supported to use this needs diagnosis to inform their construction of the most suitable MA study pathway, including the appropriate use of  the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) and/or Negotiated Experiential Learning Modules (NELMs) in their personalised learning programme: see below.

The PDR module is a core module in the MA Educational Leadership programme. As well as affording practical support for individuals to help them determine the most suitable MA pathway, it also provides an induction into studying at Masters level. In addition, key concepts and skills established in the PDR module will serve to facilitate critical engagement in subsequent modules and will be developed further in them.

APEL: Students may enter the programme having completed one of the National College programmes indicated in the table below (Table1). Through an APEL process, 40, 60 or 100 credits can be claimed, depending on the NCTL programme followed. In the APEL process, students are supported to provide suitable evidence which clearly identifies key areas of learning. They are helped to ensure that the evidence presented is appropriate to level 7 study by demonstrating critical thinking and reflection, by providing a critical analysis of how the learning has been informed by relevant theoretical perspectives and by showing that their learning is informed by current best practice in the field of educational leadership.   Other forms of work-based APL will be considered. APL will be charged in accordance with the University of Chester's fees.

NELMs: Where a National College leadership programme has not been completed, a student will be advised to take one or more NELMs. These are modules which facilitate the accreditation of learning that derives directly from day-to-day professional practice in the student's own workplace. The focus of a NELM can be the planning and completion of a specific workplace project or can relate to broader themes such as team leadership or coaching skills. The specific learning outcomes for a NELM are negotiated between student and tutor at the outset and students will be guided to reserve any research-type activity for their dissertation.

In engaging students in critical reflection on real-time aspects of their leadership role, NELMs provide a vehicle for developing theory-informed practice and enable students to enhance their workplace capability.





Duration  of Study

Nos of Assessments

Nominal APEL Credit  

Level 1


Leading a team within and organisation e.g. Head of Faculty, key stage or year

150 hours contact + in-school project

12 months of study



Level 2


Leading a team beyond an organisation e.g. Assistant Head, Deputy Head or SENCO

200 hours contact + in-school project

12 months of study



Level 3


Aspiring to lead an organisation e.g. Aspiring Head, Principal or Children's Centre Leader

250 hours contact + in-school project + placement project work

18 months of study



Level 4

Under Development

Leading an organisation e.g. Responsibility for leading a School, Academy or Children's Centre




Level 5

Under Development

Leading beyond an organisation e.g. Responsible for leading more than one School, Academy or Children's Centre and/or leader working beyond his/her substantive school











Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
CD7201 7 Professional Development Review 20 Optional
CD7208 7 Dissertation 60 Comp
CD7601 7 Leading in Faith Schools 20 Optional
CD7602 7 Leadership Theory into Practice 20 Optional
CD7603 7 Power, Politics and Policy in Educational Leadership 20 Optional
CD7604 7 Creativity, Innovation and Leadership 20 Optional
CD7605 7 The Psychology of Leadership 20 Optional
CD7606 7 Leading Change in Schools 20 Optional
CD7607 7 Leading Governance in Schools 20 Optional
IS7011 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (single) 20 Optional
IS7017 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (double) 40 Optional

Exit Awards
Target awards and Exit Awards :
MA Educational Leadership
MA Educational Leadership (Faith Schools)
Postgraduate Diploma Educational Leadership
Postgraduate Diploma Educational Leadership (Faith Schools)
Postgraduate Certificate Educational Leadership
Postgraduate Certificate Educational Leadership (Faith Schools)
Educational LeadershipMA Educational Leadership: 180 credits
Professional Development Review (PDR) @ 20 credits is compulsory
Dissertation @ 60 credits is compulsory
Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules / NELMs 20/40 credits (Optional)

Dissertation 60 credits (Comp)
Postgraduate Diploma Educational Leadership: 120 credits
Professional Development Review (PDR) @ 20 credits is compulsory

Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules /NELMs @ 20/40 credits (Optional)
Postgraduate Certificate Educational Leadership: 60 credits
Professional Development Review (PDR) @20 credits is compulsory

Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules /NELMs @ 20/40 credits (Optional)
MA Educational Leadership (Faith Schools): 180 credits. 40 credits plus the dissertation (100 credits in total) must have a faith-based focus
Professional Development Review (PDR) @20 credits is compulsory
Dissertation @ 60 credits is compulsory
Module CD7601 @ 20 credits will normally be taken
Any other module @20 credits will be allowed but must have a faith –based focus (this can include an APEL claim or a NELM)

Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules/ NELMs 20/40 (40 of which must be taken in a Faith-based context) (Optional)Module CD7601 Leading in Faith Schools @ 20 credits will normally be taken.

Dissertation with a Faith-based focus (Comp)
Postgraduate Diploma (Faith Schools):120 credits. 80 credits must have a faith-based focus.
Professional Development Review (PDR) @ 20 credits is compulsory
Module CD7601 @ 20 credits will normally be taken.
Any other modules totalling 80 credits will be allowed but must have a faith –based focus (this can include an APEL claim or a NELM)

Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules /NELMs @ 20/40 credits (Optional) Module CD7601 Leading in Faith Schools @ 20 credits will normally be taken

Postgraduate Certificate (Faith Schools): 60 credits. 40 credits must have a faith-based focus.
Professional Development Review (PDR) @ 20 credits is compulsory
Module CD7601 @ 20 credits will normally be taken
Any other module @ 20 credits will be allowed but must have a faith –based focus (this can include an APEL claim or a NELM)

Professional Development Review 20 credits (Comp)
Modules /NELMs @ 20/40 credits (Optional)Module CD7601 Leading in Faith Schools @ 20 credits will normally be taken
Permitted APEL Credit
These regulations apply to both the MA Educational Leadership and the MA Educational Leadership (Faith Schools)
For an MA
6 modules of APEL are allowed to a total of 100 credits
For a Postgraduate Diploma
3 modules of APEL are allowed to a total of 60 credits
For a Postgraduate Certificate
1 module of APEL is allowed to a total of 20 credits
Permitted NELMs
Can be taken in 20 or 40 credit modules in place of any taught modules to the equivalent credit.

The MA Educational Leadership is open to both graduates and non-graduates with professional experience although applicants will normally be graduates. Non-graduates will be invited for interview.

Applicants will normally be in a leadership role in an educational setting (normally, but not always, a school) or be aspiring to leadership.  It is possible for applicants who are not in work to undertake the Programme through a combination of university -based taught modules.

International students will need to evidence a recent IELTS score of no less than 6.5, with a writing score of no less than 6, and will be invited to interview.  English as a Second or Other Language students who are resident in the UK will be invited to interview and asked to present evidence of their qualifications in English.  At interview, International and ESOL students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their effective speaking and listening skills.

There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study specific to Education. The MA Educational Leadership draws on and extends the QAA (2010) Master's degree characteristics at Level 7 assuring the achievements represented by the qualification are appropriate and represented consistently.

Master's degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of research around educational leadership
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge about leadership
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship about leadership and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, making sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

The MA Educational Leadership aims to develop an individual's professional knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to leadership and management in their current context by building on the significant experience and expertise which students will bring with them to the course. It is recognised that in practice this requires tutors to facilitate situated learning, much of which will be experiential in nature and driven by the learner themselves and this will influence the learning and teaching methodologies to be utilised. The desired pedagogy moves away from traditional notions of learning towards supporting the development of reflective, autonomous learners engaged in contextualised, work-based learning. From the very start of their course, students will be supported by a University tutor and have access to University facilities and resources.

At the heart of all teaching and learning on the MA Educational Leadership are the essential skills of critical analysis and reflection. The Programme's learning and teaching strategies aim to enable students to draw on the knowledge and experience they gain in the context of their own professional environment in order to draw out the learning and to help them to link this to theory, research and policy. In doing so, a reflective and critical approach to professional issues and concerns is fostered. To do this, tutors will provide 'safe' opportunities for views and beliefs to be discussed and challenged and for both understanding and insight to be achieved.

Approaches used on the Programme are informed by accepted adult learning principles and teaching and learning methods  are designed to engage self-directed learners in utilising previous experience and drawing on prior learning to address real-life issues and problems in their own workplace. This student-centred approach, which emphasises a process- rather than a content-driven curriculum, is characterised by active learning, participative groupwork and creative methods of encouraging learning, together with the setting of tasks that are relevant to the individual student's needs.  A range of methodologies is employed which takes account of best practice and is compliant with the Faculty Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy. These methodologies include:

  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Presentations, discussions, debates
  • Directed tasks
  • Written assignments
  • Independent research
  • Setting-based teaching and learning activities
  • Personal contextualised reflection
  • Individual or group tutorials
  • Students leading parts of sessions
  • Formative self- and peer assessment
  • Use of the University 's Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) including dedicated module sites providing a range of specific materials to support learning.

Blended learning

Learning undertaken at the University is in a technology-rich environment that creates a flexible approach to learning for part-time students.

We will maximise the advantages of module learning spaces for group and individual online activity linked to learning tasks. Reflection and online aspects of teaching, learning and assessment will increase in line with the advancement of the University's VLE. We are committed to offering a range of teaching and learning experiences and will continue to accommodate face-to-face interaction, peer learning and group work.

The Faculty of Education and Children's Services is committed to principles of assessment that:

  • Support formative assessments that provide feedback and constructive guidance;
  • Support summative assessments that indicate clearly how criteria have been met and that are consistent and comparable;
  • Enable students to demonstrate their achievements against the Level at which they are studying and national agendas;
  • Promote learning;
  • Inform planning and Programme development;
  • Support manageable assessment tasks within an agreed timeframe;
  • Enable students to reflect on and take personal responsibility for their own learning.  

    (Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy, 2011)

Assessment of Prior Learning

Students may apply for credit as a result of undertaking NCTL programmes, or credit for work-based activities, as part of the MA in Educational Leadership.  In all cases of claims for credit, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the learning for which a student claims credit has been appropriately audited and attested. Credit for prior learning can be claimed where this learning is appropriate to the MA Educational Leadership programme, which will be governed by the University's Principles and Regulations (2012-2013), in particular Section F Regulations Governing the Assessment of Students.

In assessing AP(E)L at Level 7,  submissions will be awarded credit when they:

  • Clearly identify, evidence and critically reflect on key areas of learning.
  • Critically examine and analyse how the learning has been informed by wider theory and/or practice, for example with reference to chosen theoretical perspectives, peer reviewed sources of opinion, external information or review.
  • Demonstrate original/innovative thinking or ways of working in relation to current best practice.


The Programme will offer the following assessment palette:

Assessment Methods

Assessment tasks on the MA Educational Leadership are based on an ‘assessment palette' of seven assessment methods. Each will comprise one component. Elements are described in the module descriptors.

Assessment methods A-G

Assessment task A

An Essay (100%)

Assessment task B

A Reflexive Journal (100%)

Assessment task C

A Reflective Sketchbook (100%)

Assessment task D

An Analytical Case Study (100%)

Assessment task E

A Presentation and Oral Examination (100%)

Assessment task F 

A Dissertation (100%)

Assessment task G

Element   1    A Professional Portfolio

Element   2    A Critical Commentary (100% combined)


Where an overall grade of 40% has not been achieved the original assessment task will be resubmitted using the same title and re-assessment will focus on the failed learning outcomes.

Holders of the qualification will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for leading educational organisations requiring the exercise of initiative and responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations. Students will be independent learners with a commitment to their own  continuing professional development and that of others.

The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

All participants in and contributors to the Programme will be encouraged to become involved in the development, management, delivery and evaluation of the effectiveness of the Programme. Students are allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) who will:

  • Act as the student's contact with the University
  • Maintain an overview of a student's academic progress
  • Provide academic advice and guidance to students
  • Provide specific advice regarding module choice and review academic progress. This can be provided by face-to-face tutorial(s), email tutorial(s) or telephone tutorial(s)
  • Discuss academic strengths and areas which need development based on examples of work
  • Develop a relationship based on shared knowledge of the student's progress
  • Assist in completing the e-Portfolio
  • Provide a reference, if required, based on information provided by the student


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