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An online short course focusing on the challenges and opportunities for you as a ‘middle level’ leader.

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

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


Middle level leaders are the beating heart of any organisation. Occupying the critical space which embraces both strategy and operation, these are the people whose skills are essential to making change and improvement really happen.

We’ve designed this highly popular short course to target the unique role of the middle manager in both forming and influencing policy – and in ensuring its implementation.

You’ll look at the values and vision of an organisation, how leaders in the middle levels are aligned to them, and learn about theories and approaches you can take forward in your own work situation.

This course is ideal for aspiring leaders across all professional settings, in any sector, and in any country. Previous participants included professionals in education, police, emergency services, other public services, third sector, health, military, and a variety of industries, creating a truly international online learning community.

Aberdeen has growing strength in this topic, fuelled by fast pace and constant change in the wide variety of work sectors in the region, combined with a reputation for international outlook reflected in the university community, in the quality and relevance of teaching and research, and in growing global connections.

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 is the blending of theory with practice through the input to the course 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 adapt to 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 practising 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 will 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, Exploring Leadership, and Leading Change. Each carries 30 credits towards the full online MSc in Leadership in Professional Contexts. You may wish to study any of these short courses as standalone, or progress through a PgCert or PgDip to the full MSc in Leadership in Professional Contexts. All are fully online.

What you'll study

You’ll grow your own knowledge and understanding of leadership, including formal and informal roles, and link theory to practice in your own role.

You’ll examine the importance of research in generating different perspectives on professional knowledge. This will give you a deeper understanding of different theoretical approaches and how you can apply these to your own professional practice.

Added value comes from the contributions of real leaders in industry, public and third sector, discussing the challenges they have faced and how they were able to demonstrate leadership in change and improvement in highly complex organisations.

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 workplace. 

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.

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.