Exploring Leadership is an online short course designed for existing or aspiring leaders in all professions.

It’s a flexible way for you to develop your career and learn effective leadership skills in a rigorous university environment.

You’ll have access to the latest academic research, particularly relating to the public sector and third sector, which you can carry forward in your own professional practice.

Learn from successful leaders across a wide range of sectors. They’ve achieved positive change in their organisations and will show you how. Using work-based projects, your course is tailored to you, your workplace and personal career goals.

You can use the credits you earn on this course towards our Masters in Leadership in Professional Contexts, which you can also study online.

What you’ll study

You’ll examine the current debates and research on leadership, particularly as these apply to not-for-profit organisations, such as education, nursing and services that provide for the wellbeing of young people and those in need of care.

You will cover:

  • the concept, theory and practice of leadership, with examples relevant to your own work
  • what constitutes transformational leadership, and how it can operate in modern organisations to bring about positive change
  • a variety of leadership styles, traits and approaches and how these have changed over time.

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.


This is a popular element of the course where we pair together participants from very different work environments.

You’ll learn about your partner’s work sector and its challenges, encouraging fresh perspectives that can free you from the group thinking that’s so common within organisations. You’ll also develop coaching skills here that you’ll adapt to use in your normal working day.

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

By the end of this course, you will...

  • Enhance your critical-thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience multiple perspectives on leadership, learning from within and beyond your sector.
  • Explore the leadership theories, models and frameworks devised by researchers over many decades.
  • Understand how these might apply to the workplace to achieve better outcomes for those we support.

How you’ll study

This 12-week Exploring Leadership course is delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

It is taught at Masters level by experienced academics and leadership specialists.

You’ll blend theory with practice, undertaking projects within your own workplace, ensuring that your learning is highly relevant to you and your employer. You’ll learn from senior leaders across a range of different organisational models. You’ll hear about their experiences in education, local authorities, the NHS, police, and high-profile, international business.

Using online discussion boards and video conferencing, we connect leaders across different time zones and locations. You’ll experience a truly international online learning community.

Your course is delivered through MyAberdeen, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Also available as an app, you can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and mobile device 24/7.

Your course features a range of resources, including:

  • video conferences
  • lecture podcasts
  • workshops
  • online seminars and coaching groups
  • case studies
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

New material is added to your course every two weeks, supported by a video conference.

Course coordinator

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 30 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards further study, including our:

MSc Leadership in Professional Contexts (180 credits)

  • Available to study online.
  • Available to study to Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) and Postgraduate Diploma level (120 credits).

Build your learning

We offer a range of specialist online Leadership courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications.


Whatever your sector, you’ll build confidence and leadership skills that will help you achieve better outcomes for your organisation.

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free careers advice

We’ll help you explore your career potential and connect with job opportunities around the world.

You can access our free careers service while you study.

From interview training to CV clinics, we’re here with tailored, impartial and professional advice.

Entry requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) undergraduate degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
27 September 2021
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