UCL Graduate degrees


Applied Educational Leadership MA

The Applied Educational Leadership MA is designed for middle or established leaders and managers in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions. It will enable students to develop themselves and their educational systems, and to reflect on the quality of the learning and teaching they manage.

Covid-19 programme updates

Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.

Key information

Programme starts

January 2020, September 2020

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 - and beyond if necessary.

Application dates

January 2020 entry
Open: 15 October 2018
Close: 1 November 2019
September 2020 entry
Open: 15 October 2019
Close: 1 March 2020
September 2020 entry
Open: 15 October 2019
Close: 19 July 2020

Tuition fees (2020/21)

See fees note (FT)
See fees note (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. The fee for this programme is set by, and payable to, the University of London. Further details can be found on the University of London International Programmes website.

Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma and a PG Certificate with fees set accordingly.

The MA AEL is administered and accredited by University of London, and taught by the UCL Institute of Education.

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 (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme's study resources are located. (*Full mobile access is not available for all programmes).

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

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.

Visa information

International students may take this programme at home via distance learning without requiring a visa. This programme is not suitable for students on a Tier 4 visa.

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).

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) consisting of two core modules (60 credits) and two optional modules (60 credits) is also offered.

A Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) consisting of two core modules is also offered.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Applied Educational Leadership. Upon successful completion of 120 credits, you will be awarded a PG Dip in Applied Educational Leadership. Upon successful completion of 60 credits, you will be awarded a PG Cert 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 (AELM)
  • Leadership for the Learning Community (AELM)

Optional modules

Students choose two of the following:

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

Visit the University of London Worldwide website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.

Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study. These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available.


All students submit a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning

This programme is delivered via online learning, allowing you to study flexibly whilst balancing work and personal commitments.

The learning strategy for this programme is collaborative in that students share their skills and experience with others. Students are supported by an online learning environment which incorporates focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities for each module. There are also informal discussion areas and links to online resources including library support. Study materials and readings are provided.

Study time is estimated at about 10-15 hours a week.

The AEL MA programme is built around personal study, directed through module handbooks and VLE activities. These include participation in online dialogues with peers and tutors. There is no face-to-face study, and students are never required to be online at a particular time. Tutors give extensive feedback on draft assignments, as well as comments on online participation. 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.

Covid-19 contact hours on campus
In Term One, while campus will be open, all the learning activity for the core content of your modules will take place online – including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By “core content” we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. In addition to these online contact hours, we will be offering some face-to-face educational activities for students on campus, and we will provide alternative online activities for those students unable to join us on campus. These activities, which will include contact with academic staff, will be relevant to your programme of study may include seminars, academic and employability skills workshops, small-group or individual tutorials, lab and practice-based teaching. UK Government safety guidelines will limit the amount of ‘in person’ activity we can offer and while it will vary from programme to programme, is likely to be no more than 1-2 hours per week. This will vary across departments, particularly if your programme includes laboratory/practical/studio/workshop sessions. You will be updated with more specific details as they are available and your timetable will indicate which sessions will be on campus and which will be available online.
Covid-19 assessment updates
There may be changes to the format of assessments for modules in this programme due to COVID-19. These will be summarised for each module on the module catalogue from 17 August 2020.   If any changes to assessments need to be made during the academic year due to updates in government guidance, these will be communicated to you as soon as possible from your department.    
Communicating further Covid-19 mitigation plans
We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention, to make sure UCL is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it becomes necessary to make further changes to your programme as a result of new guidance/regulations, UCL and your department will communicate these as soon as this becomes clear. We will keep you up-to-date with our plans throughout term one, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances. Please ensure that you keep in touch with your department by regularly checking your UCL emails, Moodle courses, the Coronavirus FAQs for Students page and any UCL online groups or social media you follow.

Additional costs

There is an additional registration cost for taking the compulsory examinations at the end of taught modules. There are hundreds of registered centres worldwide. Further details are available on the programme website.

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. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Scholarships and bursaries for this programme are offered and administered by the University of London Worldwide. They are few in number and internationally competitive. More details are available on the AEL website.

If you aim to apply for funding, please apply for your course as soon as possible to give yourself time to pursue it.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE-Clarke Scholarships

Deadline Monday 25 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE-ISH Centenary Masters Scholarships

Deadline: Monday 18 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
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 are currently working 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. Many AEL students gain promotion during their course of study.


The applied nature of the course course prepares and supports students for transition into more senior leadership roles in education; for those in senior positions, it helps to develop their leadership of their institutions. The excellent reputations of UCL Institute of Education and University of London Worldwide support this.

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.


The MA AEL is administered and accredited by University of London, and taught by the UCL Institute of Education.

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.

There is no application fee for this programme.

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

January 2020 entry
1 November 2019
September 2020 entry
1 March 2020
September 2020 entry
19 July 2020

AEL has two starting points per year, in September and January. Application deadlines are in March and July for the September start, and in November for the January start.

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.

A high level of English language proficiency is required. For those who have not studied at Degree Level in the English language, an IELTS overall score of 7.0 or higher, with no less than 7.0 in reading and writing, will be required.

UCL and the University of London are regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 13 August 2020