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An online short course designed for you as an existing or aspiring leader keen to grow your skills in theory and practice of effective leadership in your work sector.

Learn from successful leaders across a wide range of sectors who have achieved positive change in their organisation.

A flexible route to develop your career in whichever sector you work – public, private, or third – with all the advantages and convenience of distance learning in any location and time zone, and fitting around your personal commitments.


What makes a great leader? Over the centuries many views and criteria have been put forward, influenced by the particular challenges of the times. Is it mostly about style, and character traits – or simply being ‘a great man’ (or woman)?

In this course you’ll focus on the concept, theory and practice of leadership, with plenty of examples relevant to your sector. You’ll consider what constitutes transformational leadership, and how it can operate in modern organisations to bring about positive change.

We’ve designed this short course for aspiring and existing leaders across all professional settings, in any sector, and in any country. Previous participants have been leaders in education, police, emergency services, other public services, third sector, health, military, and a variety of industries, creating a truly international online learning community.

A popular element of the course is ‘co-coaching’, in which we pair together participants from very different work environments. You’ll learn about your partner’s work sector and particular challenges, and develop a critical, objective view of your own. This helps you develop coaching skills in a safe, learning environment prior to adapting and using them ‘for real’ as part of your normal working day.

A further advantage to the course is the opportunity to blend theory with practice through the input of senior leaders across a range of different organisational models who contribute their own experiences, whether in education, local authority, NHS, police, or high-profile, international  business.

Participants cite many reasons for joining this course, including the wish for formal accreditation, and a desire to test themselves in a rigorous university environment in which they will be exposed to the latest academic research and improving methodology which they can then carry forward in their own professional practice.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of reputation, breadth of expertise, long experience, teaching and research strength, and strong international outlook – plus the invaluable input of external leaders with first-hand knowledge and experience of the topic – makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in leadership.

We combine over 500 years of rich academic heritage with 21st century innovation and dynamism to create and deliver world class programmes, all underpinned by our inclusive and welcoming learning environment.

Aberdeen’s School of Education is recognised as a national and international centre of excellence for creative and innovative thinking and practice, with a long and distinguished record in evolving theory and practice in learning in a culturally stimulating, hi-tech, creative environment.

You’ll benefit from a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning that will enhance your critical thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills, combining this with all the advantages of learning in an international online community to suit your location, employment and personal commitments.

This online short course is one of four focusing on leadership for positive change in any organisation. Partner courses are Leading Effective Improvement, Leading Change, and Middle Level. Each carries 30 credits towards the full online MSc in Leadership in Professional Contexts. You have the opportunity to study any of these short courses standalone, or progress through a PgCert or PgDip to the full Masters programme. All are fully online.

What you'll study

You’ll examine current debates and research on leadership, and how these apply to the public, private, and third sector.

With your online classmates you’ll learn and discuss current ideas about leadership in professional settings and other factors impacting on organisational effectiveness.

Your online class will also study theoretical models and explanatory frameworks, not just as academic exercises but to illustrate practical circumstances in professional settings, including:

- Leadership as an organisational quality 
- Dimensions of leadership 
- Experiencing leadership 
- Exploring values, aims and leadership abilities 
- Evaluating leadership in context 

How you'll study

This online, distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

We aim to create an online classroom experience and student community which enables you to enjoy the same international learning experience as students on our full degree programmes, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

You’ll be guided through your programme with podcasts of lectures, reading list, workshops, case studies, access to the wonderful online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, and plenty of interactive discussion boards and support from your tutors. New material will be added to your course every two weeks, supported by a videoconference.  

You will be expected to complete the course in 300 hours, including time spent on projects within your own work situation.  

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you are not alone in your study. Contact with your course tutors may be by email, Skype or Facetime, and you can use social media and discussion boards to find and talk to your fellow students wherever they are.


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and have been developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

At the end of your course you asked to complete a 6000-word assignment.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:2 or above from a recognised university or body. In exceptional circumstances applicants without this qualification may be admitted at the discretion of the Programme Director subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of experience, appropriate to the field of study.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.