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Graduate Leadership

2019/20 Part-time Postgraduate course


Postgraduate Certificate


Access, Digital and Distributed Learning


Centre for Flexible and Continuing Education


Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2019


The course develops the leadership skills of recent graduates in terms of leadership of (a) self, (b) others and (c) strategic projects.


The Postgraduate Certificate in Graduate Leadership is aimed at recent graduates (those graduating within the last three years) who are already employed and who wish to develop their professional leadership skills. It is designed to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills, qualities and attributes to respond to the rapidly changing demands of the workplace and to make an active contribution to strategic initiatives which impact the local and regional economy.

The qualification will specifically develop higher level skills around three key leadership areas - leadership of (a) self, (b) others and (c) strategic projects. The aim is to enable graduates from all subject areas to build their leadership capacity and develop confidence in an applied context.

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About this course


The course aims to progressively develop higher level skills within the workplace. With problem-based learning at its core, this approach equips graduates to move from a base of declarative knowledge towards the conditional knowledge required in professional life, positioning them as future leaders within the workplace.

There are three modules within the course:

Managing Quality for Competitive Advantage

  • Provides theoretical underpinning in terms of contextual knowledge and understanding of the organisation, sector, stakeholders and environment.

  • Develops frameworks/techniques for implementing quality management leading to business excellence and competitive advantage.

Demonstrating Your Professional Identity

  • Facilitates critical reflection on attributes and behaviours within a professional context, analysis of current skills and identification of future skills needs for career progression.

Leading a Strategic Initiative

  • Builds on the theoretical and reflective aspects and enables evidential application of skills through leadership of a strategic quality improvement initiative within the workplace.


Due to the work-based nature of the course with students in full-time employment, the course is delivered through a blended approach via a combination of face-to-face workshops and online materials. Students are encouraged to develop digital literacy skills through the use of the online learning environment and additional digital technologies. A face-to-face induction is held at the start of the course on Friday 27 September 2019 from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Four further face-to-face workshops are held approximately once a month until March 2020. These are held on Fridays from 9.30am to 3.30pm on the following dates:

Friday 25 October 2019
Friday 22 November 2019
Friday 17 January 2020
Friday 28 February 2020

Start dates

  • September 2019

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching and Learning

In recognition of the diverse range of backgrounds and subject areas that the students are coming from, inclusive learning and teaching practices are used to ensure that all students benefit from a learning experience that respects diversity, enables participation, removes barriers and supports them to achieve their full potential:

  • A module scaffolding approach is used to progressively develop skills, abilities and competencies.

  • A range of learning and teaching methods are used to promote student learning and to achieve the intended learning outcomes. These

    • Knowledge/Understanding is developed through workshops, online learning, guest speakers, self-directed reading and research and independent study.

    • Intellectual qualities are developed through action learning sets and group activities which include critical discussion and debate, synthesis of reading and workplace experiences and self-analysis of own performance.

    • Professional/Practical Skills are developed through applied practice in a real work context.Practice will be informed by reading, research and other sources, by self-assessment and by feedback from, peers, employers and the Course Team.

    • Transferable skills are developed through engagement in new areas of professional practice.

  • A range of assessment types are used to accommodate different learning needs and preferences e.g. written, oral, visual, analytical, creative etc.

    • Assessment briefs, marking schemes, rubrics and exemplar assessments are used to demonstrate the requirements of a ‘good’ assessment submission.

    • Formative assessment and feedback is available to check student understanding and signpost them to additional support if required.

    • Where appropriate, choices around assessment can be negotiated particularly in relation to the strategic initiative. Flexibility around deadlines is offered.

  • A flipped classroom approach is used to provide materials online in advance of workshops and encourage students to prepare responses prior to attendance at workshops.

  • Opportunities are provided for students to ask questions and seek support within workshops or at a later stage on a one-to-one basis or via email if they feel more comfortable with this.

  • In group activities, students are often allocated to groups and roles (rather than self-selecting) to ensure equality of opportunity to voice opinions and make contributions.

  • Reasonable adjustments are made for those with additional learning and support needs.

This course explicitly recognises and maximises students’ prior learning from their undergraduate degree and uses the practice of learning gain to measure improvements in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development.

Students are expected to assume a high level of autonomy through self-directed learning and are required to take on responsibility for identifying their own learning needs through self, peer and employer feedback.

Academic skills are embedded in the curriculum and developed alongside generic, transferable skills. These include critical reading, writing, referencing, organisational skills and information literacy.


The aim of assessment is to promote student learning and to provide feedback to students so they can reflect upon, develop and improve their academic performance.

All assessment and feedback is carried out in line with the University’s best practice guidance in the University’s Assessment Handbook, following University policies and procedures. Assessment is designed to be equitable, consistent and reliable with students receiving clear, timely, unambiguous and constructive feedback.

  • Each module is assessed individually via coursework:

    • Assessment methods vary across modules and are detailed in each Module Description.

    • The weighting of assessments is also detailed in the Module Descriptions.

  • Assessment load is distributed equitably and consistently across the modules with assessments evenly scheduled and timed to ensure manageability for students alongside work commitments.

  • There is a standardised approach to assessment deadline flexibility to take account of the work-based learning nature of the course.

  • Assessments are clearly aligned to the programme and module learning outcomes with assessment criteria and marking schemes used to clarify performance expectations and the standards expected to achieve particular levels/grades.

    • Assessment criteria are aligned to the University’s Level 7 criteria for qualitative-based work as stated in the Assessment Handbook.

  • Both formative assessments (to enable assessment for and as learning) and summative assessments (to enable assessment of learning) are used in all modules. Students are also able to submit draft versions of summative assessments to enable low-stakes practice prior to final submission.

  • Staged assessments are used both within modules and across the module spectrum via the module scaffolding approach. This encourages assessment literacy and ensures foundational knowledge and understanding, reflection on practice and application of theory to practice.

  • A variety of assessment types are used including written reports, impact planners, digital infographics, reflective logs and professional conversations.

  • There are opportunities for students to self-assess (i.e. measure their own performance) and reflect on and monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals.

  • A range of feedback methods including self, peer, employer and Course Team are used to enable students to receive regular feedback on performance.

  • Students are provided with comprehensive assessment information pre-start, at the induction, at workshops and in the Blackboard module areas. This includes an overall assessment schedule, assessment briefs, assessment criteria, marking schemes, submission dates and examples of exemplar assessments from previous students.

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    The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

    Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

    • the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
    • the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
    • the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.

    Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

    Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

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.

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    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.

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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.

Entry Requirements

(a) Applicants must have gained an Honours or non-Honours degree from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from a recognised national awarding body, or

from an institution of another country which is recognised as being an equivalent standard or

an equivalent standard in a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification.

(b) Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the minimum English entrance requirements of the University and will need to provide recent evidence of this (certified within the last two years) i.e. a minimum English level of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with no band score under 5.5 or a Trinity ISE Pass at level III.

(c) Applicants must be employed in a position which enables them to fulfil the requirements of the qualification and have the full support of their employer or supervisor to undertake study.

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.

United States of America flagAdditional information for students from United States of America


Typically we require applicant for taught programmes to hold the equivalent of a UK first degree (usually in a relevant subject area). Please refer to the specific entry requirements for your chosen course of study as outlined in the online prospectus. We consider students who have good grades in the following:

Bachelor degree

English Language

Financial Information

In addition to the scholarships and bursaries open to all international students, US students may apply for Federal and Private US loans

Level 12 English Lang in HSD

View more information for students from United States of America  

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

With enhanced leadership skills, this increases the career options for participants who should be able to transfer the knowledge and understanding gained to a range of employment contexts.

The course primarily focuses on developing the employability of graduates through attribution of specific skills within a workplace context. Employability underpins all aspects of the course and associated modules. The course also enables participants to take a longer-term view of their employability through personal development planning.


Start dates

  • September 2019


  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.
  5. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.