Executive Leadership


2021/22 Part-time Postgraduate course


Master of Science


Ulster University Business School


Department of Management, Leadership and Marketing


Belfast campus

Start date:

October 2021


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 the 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 the 21st century challenges we all face.

In this MSc course we show how leaders in organisations can develop and nurture strategic thinking at all levels. To be a strong role model is important too, so up-to-date approaches to ethics and governance feature throughout. There is also the opportunity to identify and develop personal effective leadership traits and behaviours that are necessary to succeed in the emerging borderless, anarchic, knowledge driven global economy. However, the key to sustainable success is the capacity to lead through innovation, to outthink the competition and then to outperform it.

An integral part of the programme is a period of study at the Global Leadership Institute, Boston College, USA. Boston College is one of the world’s leading universities. Here we offer an unrivalled opportunity to meet with and discuss how world-class CEOs are constantly innovating and re-inventing their organisations to stay ahead.

Successful completion of this programme will lead to the MSc Executive Leadership.

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About this course


The rationale underpinning the MSc Executive Leadership is to equip senior executives with the appropriate self-awareness, knowledge, skills and behaviours that serve to unlock human potential and enable organisations to create value added for their stakeholders. The programme meets a clear demand from the public, private, community and voluntary sectors for advanced leadership development. The programme is about more than academic study and knowledge acquisition; it offers a personal and professional opportunity to engage in self-reflection and to become part of a community of practice with an interest in enhancing leadership across all walks of life. The programme differs from other leadership programmes in that it addresses what leaders must do in their own specific context in order to lead agile and resilient, sustainable organisations that are and socially responsible.


The programme normally lasts 24 months and is made up of two x three-day teaching blocks in Semesters I and 2 of each year for two years.

Start dates

  • October 2021

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Assessment is by completion of work-based assignments.

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:

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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.

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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).

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) by Advanced HE - 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.

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 2021-2022.

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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

Strategy consists of the analysis and decisions an organisation undertakes in order to create and sustain competitive advantage. Understanding these interrelated processes is crucial for creating and developing organisations. This module explores these decisions areas from a range of contemporary perspectives and contexts.

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 skills and attributes. To assist with this process, students will be introduced to self-assessment and reflective practice to provide them with a holistic and objective view of their leadership abilities and practice which will inform a personal leadership development strategy.

Year two

Digital Transformation

Year: 2

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.

Study Visit

Year: 2

This module provides the opportunity to explore global leadership issues in situ with leading academics from the Global Leadership, successful entrepreneurs and key leaders and influencers from various walks of life. The study visit provides a unique opportunity to learn with and from peers and to become part of a global network of leaders locally and internationally.

Leading for Transformational Change

Year: 2

This module is designed to facilitate participants to reflect on the organisational changes that have taken place and will take place over the next five years and on; the nature of leadership needed in times of crisis and turbulence. With the focus on how to create a purpose driven, engaged workforce that can adapt successfully to future challenges that may emerge.

Corporate Governance and Business Ethics

Year: 2

This module focusses on the principles and practices of good governance, business ethics and corporate responsibility. Recognition is given to the fact that the Boards of Directors need to be accountable and responsible and act with integrity when balancing stakeholder needs. Through the module participants explore best practice and critically examine the leadership demonstrated by Board members individually and collectively.

Strategic Financial Management

Year: 2

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: 2

This introductory module to executive coaching and mentoring affords participants the opportunity to further their knowledge and skills in coaching and mentoring. Through the sessions participants explore, the literature in this field and reflect on their personal development as a coach or mentor. The module uses action learning, peer learning, exploration of case study and creative learning techniques to explore how coaching and mentoring can successfully be applied in the business context.

Year three

Research Study

Year: 3

In this final module of the MSc. students are provided with an introduction to research methods and 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 and carried out the research and written up their findings. The final document will include a reflective statement on learning from the research journey.

Standard 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

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;
(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma,
Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate
Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and
(iii) normally be currently employed in a senior managerial/leadership
position (or aspiring to be) and have five years’ relevant
experience; or
(iv) if currently unemployed, have been employed in a senior
managerial/leadership position within the previous three years
and have five years’ relevant experience; and
(v) have successfully completed an interview as to their suitability to
undertake the programme.
B3 1/17 February 2021
(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 subjectspecific
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.

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. No exemption shall be permitted from the Dissertation.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Successful candidates have found this qualification beneficial in their career progression and many of the Alumni now occupy senior Executive roles or have oursued Doctoral studies.


Start dates

  • October 2021

Fees and funding

In this section

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.

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition feesWhere a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering)vaccinations , 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 are also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs 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.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding course entry requirements or getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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"I found the MSc. learning journey from beginning to end thoroughly enjoyable, challenging and insightful on both a personal and professional level. The format of the programme and the lectures created an environment conducive to discussion , debate and reflection. One of the highlights of the course for me was the week in Boston. This was a great opportunity to listen to academics from Boston College and engage with a wide range of leaders who were dynamic, inspirational and humble from large Corporate organisations to small charitable companies. It was an uplifting experience I will never forget".

Randy McComb Head of Learning and Organisation Development NIFRS

Each of the course modules provided me with the tools and ideas to make some great improvements to our business. The MSc provided a perfect platform for sharing ideas and experiences with the rest of the cohort, and created a spirited environment where views and opinions could be explored and challenged. As a result, I’ve grown professionally as a leader, and have a greater sense of the importance of creating and maintaining a positive culture in the workplace. I would not hesitate in recommending this course.

Kerry McCaughan Director Wealth Management JohnstonCampbell