UCL Graduate degrees


Applied Educational Leadership MA

The Applied Educational Leadership MA is a world-class, fully online programme for middle or senior leaders in schools, colleges, universities, charities, edu-businesses and government. It is a powerful boost to personal development, employability and promotion. Students bring change to their professional contexts through personal study and research, enabled by high-quality dialogue with their tutors and global network of peers.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021, January 2022

Modes and duration

Flexible: 3-5 years
Distance learning: available

The course is designed to be completed in 3 years, but its modular format allows for flexible deferral up to the 5 year limit.

Application dates

September 2021 entry; visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
September 2021 entry; non-visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 30 July 2021
January 2022 entry
Open: 8 February 2021
Close: 12 November 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£10,500 (FT)
£21,600 (FT)

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. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in any subject, and at least two years' relevant work experience. Word processing, Internet and email skills are all basic requirements of this programme. You must have regular access to a computer with an internet connection to use the Virtual Learning Environment, where all programme resources are located.

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

As an applied programme, this MA will improve a student's understanding of educational leadership theory, enable them to apply it to their own working environment, and to undertake research in their settings. It will foster students' continuing professional development, allowing them to consider issues related to the policy context of education. It will also give them the chance to think through, apply and evaluate strategies for leading change.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Applied Educational Leadership.

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

  • Leading and Managing Educational Change and Improvement
  • Leadership for the Educational Learning Organisation

Optional modules

Students choose two of the following:

  • Developing Personal Leadership Skills
  • Exploring Educational and Social Policy
  • Finance and Resource Management
  • Values, Vision and Moral Purpose

Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.


All students submit a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning

This online programme allows flexible study around other commitments. Students share their skills and experience with peers, supported and directed by tutors. In-depth guides are provided for each module, containing readings, outlines, commentary and activities supported on the Moodle site. Students are assessed through written assignments and blogs.

The AEL MA programme is built around personal study supported by online dialogue and messaging. There is no face-to-face teaching, and students are never required to be online at a particular time. Tutors give extensive feedback on draft assignments, as well as responding to and evaluating students' online contributions to dialogue. During the dissertation year students are supported by both the module tutor, who supports generic research and study skills, and a supervisor, who helps them develop and write up a research project. Recommended study time is around 10 hours per week.

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.


Graduates of this programme work across a broad range of areas. Some are working as senior and middle leaders in education institutions worldwide, while others have jobs as government ministers and advisers. Graduates can also be found working as local government leaders and consultants. An increasing number work in or start edu-businesses. Many AEL students gain promotion during the programme as it offers evidence of their dedication to personal and professional development.


The programme links rigorous academic content to practical application throughout. Students develop skills in leading staff, working with teams, increasing motivation, leading change, assessing research claims and developing research-engaged institutions. Wider philosophical and value stances are explored, enriched by informed professional perspectives from a diverse global cohort. This leaves students better prepared for a wide range of professional contexts in changing times.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Department of Learning and Leadership's excellent reputation stems from the quality, depth and breadth of its research and development work, and from its promotion of educational leadership both nationally and internationally.

The department is at the forefront of developing research, new knowledge and publications for and about leadership and learning. This informs the content of the AEL course.

AEL has an outstanding team of tutors with long experience as educational leaders and researchers in the field.

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?

This programme is suitable for educational professionals who may be based in the UK or anywhere in the world and who are likely to be educational leaders or managers in a variety of settings.

Application deadlines

September 2021 entry; visa nationals
31 May 2021
September 2021 entry; non-visa nationals
30 July 2021
January 2022 entry
12 November 2021

AEL has two starting points per year, in September and January. Please note that this programme requires that applicants have experience of educational leadership and are in a leadership position during their studies. Students with a strong application but not meeting all criteria can make their case in the personal statement.

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 Applied Educational Leadership at graduate level
  • why you want to study Applied Educational Leadership at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • 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