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Developing resilient, agile leaders that can enhance the competitiveness of their organisation today and in the future.


As a director or senior executive, leadership is the most important part of your role. However, in a turbulent business climate, leaders cannot model themselves on leadership approaches from the past and expect to meet the demands of today. To support leaders to respond to these demands, we have designed a development programme that uses 21st century approaches to meet future challenges we all face.

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About this course

In this section


The MSc Executive Leadership enables participants to explore how to develop individual and organisational leadership competence through becoming part of a global learning community. To be a strong role model is important too, so up to date approaches to ethics and governance feature throughout. However, the key to sustainable success is the capacity to lead through innovation, to outthink the competition and then to out perform it.


The programme is structured around nine taught modules each lasting three days and one five day module delivered at the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, USA. In addition, participants complete a Research Study (Dissertation project).

Start dates

  • October 2019
How to apply

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Assessment is by completion of work-based assignments.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

Read more

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Creating the future

Year: 1

The module aims to equip course students with an appreciation of the value of scenario planning within their organisations. As such, course members will be introduced to a range of tools and techniques which will enable them to manage the future in a more proactive and creative way.

Leading for the future

Year: 1

The aim of this module is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the leadership literature to enable them to assess their leadership capabilities and skills. To assist with this process, course members will be introduced to a range of psychometric tools and techniques. This will provide each individual with a holistic and objective view of their leadership abilities which will inform a personal and organisational leadership development strategy.

Science and Psychology of Customer Experience

Year: 1

This module is optional

Now, more than ever, customer experience plays a pivotal role in the success and longevity of a company. Examining a range of scientific tools and global data, the module provides a guide on how to master the challenges of the market, and how to deliver superior performance through effective customer experience management.

Leading in a Digital Age

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module will equip students with critical theories and concepts to analyse and differentiate the strategic values of emerging technologies (cloud computing, social media, big data, the internet of things etc.), and evaluate different methods of aligning technological opportunities with business strategy; critically reflecting upon its impact on Leadership.

Managing in Practice

Year: 1

This module is optional

As a rule of thumb, training is formal and linear, it's to do with learning how to do something specific, relating to skill and competence. Training can be as simple as using a PC application and as complex as learning how to be a pilot.

Development however is often less structured and has a wider application, giving the individual the tools to do a range of things that relate to capability and competency, in this case across the range of management practices. It involves progression to a more advanced, mature or complex understanding, establishing a process that helps a student manage their development on an ongoing basis.

Study Visit

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module introduces course members to a series of quality-award winning organisations in the US, or other location as appropriate, and provides them with a practical insight into the methodologies and approaches employed in such organisations that have achieved transformational change and business excellence.

Leading Change Innovation and Transformation

Year: 1

This module is optional

The leading change innovation and transformation module encourages participants to shift paradigms, think beyond the "silo" and consider innovative approaches to business excellence. A range of analytical tools and techniques are discussed and used. At the same time implementation issues around continual improvement mechanisms are addressed.

People are the key to success. This module therefore addresses issues of strategic human resource management (SHRM). Critical linkages are examined between SHRM and approaches to organisation development.

Examples of best practice are incorporated for purposes of benchmarking. Innovative approaches to business excellence, strategic human resource management and change management underpin this module.

Strategic Marketing

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module introduces and examines the principal concepts and theories of strategic marketing and its practical application to organisations to create value and competitive advantage.

Corporate Governance and Business Ethics

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module focuses on the principles and practices of good governance and business ethics. Recognising that Boards of Directors need to be accountable and responsible, acting with integrity whilst balancing the competing needs of a variety of stakeholders, this module gives participants the opportunity to explore best practice and critically evaluate their Board's performance. Standards of behaviour of Board members, as outlined by Nolan, will also be explored and personal practice assessed.

Strategic Financial Management

Year: 1

This module is optional

Strategic Financial Management can no longer be viewed as the preserve of accountants. The speed of change in the business environment means that organisations need to be agile and able to react quickly to changes in order to strengthen (or protect) competitive advantage.

This module focuses on the identification of the possible strategies capable of maximising an organisation's net present value, the allocation of scarce capital resources among the competing opportunities and the implementation and monitoring of the chosen strategy so as to achieve stated objectives.

Financial strategy is applicable to, and equally important in, organisations which do not seek distributable profits, emphasising that the key factor is the assessment of the value of the output of an entity and especially the excess of that value over the cost of inputs whether it be in the private, public, or social economy sector.

The module is theory based but practitioner focused and utilises a blend of participative learning strategies and methods.

Executive Coaching and Mentoring

Year: 1

This module is optional

This introductory module in executive coaching and mentoring affords participants the opportunity to further their knowledge and understanding of the coaching, mentoring and other associated literature. They will also be guided in a process of exploring themselves and their motivations and creating a personal development agenda to assist them to become reflective coach/mentor practitioners.

Year two

Research Study

Year: 2

This is the final module of the MSc Executive Leadership students are provided with an introduction to research methods and the research process. As an outcome of this module, students will have produced their research idea in the form of a research proposal and action plan, carried out the research and written up their findings. The final document will include a reflective statement on learning from the research journey.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

Applicants must:

(a)have gained:

(i) a second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and

(iii) five years of experience in a senior managerial/leadership role;


(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent, e.g. a minimum English level of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with no band score under 5.5);

or, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b):

(c) in exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

Candidates are normally required to hold a current senior managerial position or aspiring to work in a senior role. If unemployed, candidates should have previously been employed in a senior management role normally within the last three years.

Candidates will be interviewed by the Course Director prior to acceptance on the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme. However, participants must register for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award.

No exemption shall be permitted from the dissertation.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Current students occupy relevant and worthwhile careers but this programme supports continued career development whereby some students have progressed to senior executive and boardroom positions following completion of the programme. For those who wish to maintain their links with academia, there is an option to pursue further studies at PhD level.

Graduates of the programme have written research papers and have presented at a number of International and Leadership Conferences.


How to apply Request a prospectus

Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.

Start dates

  • October 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

To find out more about fees related to this course please visit

Additional mandatory costs

The fees for a typical masters programme do not apply as the MSc Executive Leadership includes a five day overseas residential programme to the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, USA. Please contact the Course Director for information on the cost of this programme.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


For further information on this programme, please contact:

Course Director: Dorothy McKee

T: +44 (0)28 9036 8601

M: +44 (0)75 4074 3138


For more information visit

Ulster University Business School

The Business Institute


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  4. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
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"The MSc in Executive Leadership opened up new opportunities for learning to lead with authenticity and belief. With the world around us constantly changing we all have a role to play, not just for the present but for the future, creating and supporting the right conditions to make a difference and succeed. This MSc programme will set you up for that journey."

Heather Weir, Chief Executive, NI Hospice

"Leadership in life and business is at times underrated. The MSc Executive Leadership gave me a greater understanding of myself as a person and a leader. The Masters made me more aware how to weave a company into a community where the positives are accentuated and the failures are recognised as potential for learning."

James Geraghty, MD Molloys Lifestyle Pharmacies and Health Stores