Executive Leadership

2021/22 Part-time Postgraduate course


Master of Science


Ulster University Business School


Department of Management, Leadership and Marketing


Jordanstown 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.

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About this course


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.


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.

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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:

    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.

Jordanstown campus

The largest of Ulster's campuses.


Jordanstown is our biggest campus in an idyllic setting surrounded by lush lawns and trees. It's just a few hundred metres from Loughshore Park and promenade, and just seven miles from Belfast city centre.

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Sports Facilities

At our Jordanstown Campus we have world class facilities that are open all year round to our students and members of the public.

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Student support

At Student Support we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

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Jordanstown campus location info

  Find out more about our Jordanstown campus


Ulster University
Shore Road
Co. Antrim
BT37 0QB

T: 028 7012 3456


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.

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; 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. No exemption shall be permitted from the Dissertation.

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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.


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.


For further information on this programme, please contact:

Course Director: Dorothy McKee

T: +44 (0)28 9036 8601

M: +44 (0)75 4074 3138

E: dm.mckee@ulster.ac.uk

For more information visit

Ulster University Business School

Department of Management, Leadership and Marketing


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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