Institute of Education


Educational Leadership (Pre-service) MA

The MA Educational Leadership pre-service route is for those with a strong interest in developing a career in educational leadership across a range of settings but without formal leadership experience so far. The programme will enable you to reflect on relevant and contemporary theory and evidence, helping you to become an effective future leader of learning and change.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£10,500 (FT)
£5,250 (PT)
£23,300 (FT)
£11,650 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

a minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or overseas qualification is required. Applicants are not required to have previous leadership experience.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

You will explore and critique educational leadership and management theory, research and practice and be encouraged to identify and extend your personal leadership capabilities in the education sector.  There is also a close focus on how you can improve the quality of learning and teaching for the student body you will be serving as an educational leader.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

There are two compulsory modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

You must either complete a 60 credit dissertation (or in rare circumstances and in consultation with the programme leader) take an additional optional module plus a 30 credit report.

Introduction to Leadership in Education
Doing and Using Educational Leadership and Management Research

Optional modules

The majority of our students take the two modules listed below (Spring and Summer terms respectively) and this provides a varied and balanced programme of study in Educational Leadership. Students may opt for other education modules from across the Institute of Education, in place of one of the two below, subject to availability. 

Leadership for the Learning Community (Leadership)
Leading in Diverse Cultures and Communities (Leadership)


All students undertake a dissertation of 20,000 words (60 credits).  In some circumstances and in consultation with the programme leader you can take an additional optional module plus a 30 credit report (10,000 words).

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through face-to-face and/or online teaching, facilitation, multimedia presentations and activity-based learning. Each module is supported by materials on our virtual learning environment.

The modules are taught face-to-face with additional pre-structured online (individual and group) activities and individual fieldwork to prepare for the final assignment.  You will spend about a third of your time in lectures or engaging in directed online activities and the remaining two thirds of your time working with other students, undertaking field work, doing independent study and preparing the assessment task.

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE Centenary Masters Scholarships

Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE-Clarke Scholarships

Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE Windle Trust Scholarship

Deadline: 31 December 2020
Full tuition fees and some allowances (Up to 3yrs)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


The pre-service route is designed to allow candidates without previous in-service experience to prepare for a career in educational leadership.  The deep engagement with the education leadership field will provide you with an excellent platform for career advancement.


Although academic in focus the programme aims to be practical in terms of application, allowing you to develop the potential to lead staff, work with teams, address occupational issues of supporting and challenging motivation, lead change, assess research claims and develop research-engaged education organisations and/or systems. You will also explore wider philosophical and value stances which are particularly pertinent in working in a truly global context.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The degree will explore and critique educational leadership and management theory, research and practice and encourage you to identify, develop and extend your personal leadership potential for the education sector.

This degree draws on the extensive knowledge and research base of the UCL Centre for Educational Leadership, part of the UCL Institute of Education, ranked number one in the world for education for the last seven years (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020). It is taught by leading experts in the field.

This degree will enable aspiring educational leaders to explore relevant theory and evidence and relate this to their own future practice to enable them become effective leaders of learning and change.

Department: Learning & Leadership

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

You do not need previous leadership experience in education, but you must demonstrate a strong career interest in the education sector.

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 May 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Educational Leadership (Pre-service) at graduate level
  • why you want to study Educational Leadership (Pre-service) at UCL
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021