Executive Leadership - MSc

2024/25 Part-time Postgraduate course


Master of Science


Ulster University Business School


Department of Management, Leadership and Marketing


Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2024


To equip leaders with knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes to unlock their own potential, their teams and enable organisations to create value.


The suite of programmes are about more than academic study and knowledge acquisition; they offer 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 programmes recognise that personal leadership qualities and attributes are vital and must be understood and applied. The programmes differ from other leadership programmes in that they address what leaders must do in their own specific context in order to lead agile and resilient, sustainable organisations that are and socially responsible.

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 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.

About this course


The programme provides participants with the opportunity to explore and contextualise emerging leadership thinking and achieve transformational change.
The programme is delivered in Belfast and through an international study visit to Boston College. Our tutors and the extensive range of guest speakers have in-depth
understanding and experience of global trends in business and new and emerging thinking on Executive Development. Through the programme, participants have the opportunity
to learn from practitioners and academics involved in research in the area of Business and Executive Development.


One of the features of the PgDip/MSc in Executive Leadership is that each of the nine taught modules is delivered using Block Learning. This means each module is delivered over 2.5 full days (9.30-4.30pm). Classes do not follow the traditional weekly lecture/seminar format.

During the two and a half days you will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods including lectures, seminars, case studies and guest speakers. You would also be expected to complete your own, individual learning, outside the classes.

This is delivered in a blended style with some face to face and online delivery.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The approach to the delivery of the programme is highly facilitative and challenging. The modules provide opportunities for participants to test out ideas and fresh thinking in a safe environment and to come up with practical innovative solutions to personal and organisational issues. The programme provides senior executives with the time and space for challenge and reflection on their perception of themselves as a leader and to learn how others locally, nationally and globally are addressing similar challenges. Through the case studies, guest speakers and workshops participants not only have opportunities to learn from others but also to expand their networks and contacts and to become part of a wider learning community. Across all modules, alumni and business experts are invited in as guest speakers. Coursework is practical with students having autonomy in completing an applied assignment that is relevant and valuable to them as an individual and to their place of employment.

Each of the taught modules is delivered using the block intensive learning approach. Thus, each module is delivered over three full days with an additional follow-up day. Various learning approaches are adopted including lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, while guest speakers and visiting professors are used to add their expertise and practical experience to the subject being studied.

Assessment plays a significant role in the totality of a student’s educational experience. For this reason, considerable effort has been devoted to ensuring that the assessment requirements built into each module are appropriate to the learning outcomes, qualities and abilities being assessed. The necessary skills and abilities are established and developed through the completion of a wide range of practical work-based assignments that allow students to apply their learning to their own role and organisations.

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

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, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses 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. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. 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

    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 assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    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, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. 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. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

This course is taught by range of academics with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Some with varied industry experience in the private, public and third sector that spans the globe as well as best in class academic research.

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) 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 and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance 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 from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus


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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 normally hold

(i) a degree or equivalent or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the

accreditation of prior experiential learning.

(ii) at least 5 years experience in a senior managerial/leadership role.

In addition, it is a requirement that candidates will normally hold a current senior managerial

position or aspiring to work in a senior role. If unemployed have previously been employed

in a senior management role normally within the last three years.

Each applicant will also be interviewed by the Course Director to confirm their suitability for

the programme.

English Language Requirements

Provide evidence of competence in spoken and written English (GCSE English grade C or


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.

English language requirements (ulster.ac.uk)

Careers & opportunities

Career options

The course helps develop competencies for career change/progression, while also providing the necessary tools to enable participants to set up their own business. Often students who complete this course progress to more senior positions.

Work placement / study abroad

This course includes a study visit module to Boston, MA in the USA. The programme has been delivered through a long-standing partnership of over 20 years with Boston College. Boston College has strong links and networks with employers and insights into the international issues facing leaders both today and in the future.


Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.

For modules commenced in the academic year 2024/25, the following fees apply:

Credit Points NI/ROI/GB Cost International Cost*
5 £194.45 £474.70
10 £388.90 £949.40
15 £583.35 £1,424.10
20 £777.80 £1,898.80
30 £1,166.70 £2,848.20
60 £2,333.40£5,696.40
120 £4,666.80£11,392.80
180 £7000.20£17,089.20

NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.

*International student access to courses is subject to meeting visa requirements. More information can be found in the Visas and Immigration section.

Additional mandatory costs

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 fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

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

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


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 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.

For more information visit


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.


“I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the MSc. the learning has been immensely rewarding and beneficial to my organisation. Please pass on my gratitude to the lecturers for helping us to grow and develop” - Jacinta Linden Director SPACE Supporting People and Communities Everyday, Graduate MSc. Executive Leadership

“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, Graduate MSc. Executive Leadership

“As a Senior Civil Servant, this MSc course in Executive Leadership has been invaluable, particularly in recent months as we adjust and respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis. I would urge anyone with an interest in leadership to consider this course as a worthwhile investment in their learning and development”. - David Malcom Deputy Director Department for the Economy NI Civil Service, Graduate MSc. Executive Leadership