Applications are open for January 2024

Our application deadline for online degrees and awards starting in September 2023 has passed. But you can apply now to start in January 2024.

Recognise your talents and become a dynamic leader in your field.

Join an online MSc in Leadership designed to inspire ambitious leaders for our public and third sectors.

The degree features educational leadership training created in partnership with the Scottish College for Educational Leadership, Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government.

  • Grow confidence as you build your skills in leadership and management theory.
  • Learn to identify issues and facilitate improvements within your own organisation.
  • Start putting your new skills into practice from day one.

Using work-based projects, you’ll explore leadership in the context of your own workplace – and enjoy teaching that’s tailored to you, your work and your career goals.

You’ll access and work with the latest academic research in this area, and train with successful leaders from a range of sectors from around the world.

By the end of this degree, you’ll be able to...

  • Explain and evaluate a range of leadership and management theories.
  • Weigh up solutions to lead positive change in organisations.
  • Make informed contributions to professional debates.
  • Engage in critical reflection of your own practice.
  • Analyse evidence to make better professional judgements in complex situations.
  • Apply leadership theories to improve professional practice in a range of settings, including education, social services, nursing, and the police.
  • Respond more confidently to policy changes, social and economic shifts and other external factors.

What you’ll study

You can choose to study for a:

  • Masters (180 credits)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits)
  • Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits).

How you’ll study

Online learning

MSc Leadership in Professional Contexts is delivered flexibly, 100% online.

Your teaching

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including online access to our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Work-based learning

You’ll blend theory with practice, undertaking projects within your own workplace, ensuring your learning is always relevant to you and your employer.


This is a popular element of the MSc, pairing together participants from very different work environments.

Encouraging fresh perspectives, you’ll learn from your partner’s experiences and the professional challenges they face. Exposing you to a sector outside your own can free you from the group-thinking so common within organisations. You’ll also develop coaching skills you can adapt and use in your own place of work.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from academics and researchers within our School of Education, guest lecturers and senior leaders from a diverse range of organisations. In recent years, this has included Chief and Assistant Chief Constables, a former NHS Chief Executive, leaders from international businesses and local authorities. You’ll gain insight into leadership practices around the world, connecting online with an international community of tutors and peers.


This degree is assessed entirely online.

Hours for taught courses

If you plan to study part-time, we recommend you take no more than one 30-credit course per term.

30 credits

  • Around 300 hours of study and assessment time to complete.
  • You’ll study 15 – 20 hours per week per term, plus more at assessment times.

This is a guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.

You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

There may be some activities scheduled at a fixed time, such as online meetings with your tutor or assessments with deadlines. But otherwise, you can access and work through each course at your convenience.

Hours for 60-credit project

A 60-credit project is around 600 hours of study time.

You’ll complete your work-based project part-time, over the course of a year to 18 months.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen and email. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

We’re a member of the Access scheme run by the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL).

Access study spaces, books and journals in your area

The SCONUL Access scheme allows you, as a University of Aberdeen student, to access books and resources at university libraries across the UK and Ireland, or visit them for a quiet place to study.

You’ll be able to use study spaces, books and journals at over 150 university libraries which belong to the scheme.

Find out about the SCONUL Access scheme for libraries.

Your support team

Neil McLennan

Neil is the degree coordinator. He’ll be on hand to answer any questions about degree content before you start and to help you throughout your studies.

Isla Donaldson

Isla is part of the School’s support team. She’ll be there throughout your studies to answer any of your non-academic queries.

Get in touch

The online education team is here to answer any questions you have right now about this qualification, or about studying online.

Ask us a question

Where this will take you


Whatever your background, and whatever your career goals, this MSc will prepare you to lead more successfully now and in the future.

You’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills to lead improvement in professional settings such as:

  • education and children’s services
  • social services
  • fire and rescue services
  • nursing and health care
  • caring agencies
  • the police and security services, and
  • other public or third sector settings.

Your qualification will be recognised by employers and institutions throughout the UK and internationally.

Lifelong career support

Our career support doesn’t stop when you graduate.

You have access to our free careers service while you study, and beyond.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

Fees and funding

The fees quoted above are based on you starting your studies with us in the 2023/24 academic year.

We have confirmed that our fees will rise by 5% for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 academic years. Our indicative costs include a 5% fee rise each year.

Pay as you go

Don’t worry, you do not have to pay the full degree fee upfront.

You can pay for your degree one term at a time. This gives you a flexible way to spread the cost.

Pay as you go allows you to spread payments over several terms.

When you pay

You make a payment before the start of each term.

How much you pay

You only pay for the credits you want to study in the upcoming term.

It’s up to you how many credits you take each term. This gives you control over your costs and your workload.

  • Taking fewer credits will increase the length of your studies.

We break down the total cost of this qualification into cost per 30 credits.

Cost per 30 credits for this degree, starting in academic year 2023/24

  • £1,230 in academic year 2023/24.
  • £1,290 in academic year 2024/25.
  • £1,350 in academic year 2025/26.

Tuition fees typically rise a little each academic year and will rise by 5% for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 academic years.

This is an example payment schedule for tuition fees. It’s based on the typical route through the degree.

You can take more or fewer credits per term than is shown in this example.

Term 1) September – December 2023 | Academic year 2023/24

  • Take one 30-credit course.
  • Fee for term = £1,230.
  • Payment due in September.

Term 2) January – April 2024

  • Take one 30-credit course.
  • Fee for term = £1,230.
  • Payment due in January.

PgCert exit point

With 60 credits earned, you now have the option to exit with a PgCert.

Total fee for this route to your PgCert = £2,460.

Term 3) May – August 2024

  • Summer break. There is no teaching in the summer of your degree.
  • No payment due.

Term 4) September – December 2024 | Academic year 2024/25

  • Take one 30-credit course.
  • Fee for term = £1,290.
  • Payment due in September.

Term 5) January – April 2025

  • Take one 30-credit course.
  • Fee for term = £1,290.
  • Payment due in January.

PgDip exit point

With 120 credits earned, you now have the option to exit with a PgDip.

Total fee for this route to your PgDip = £5,040.

Term 6) May – August 2024

  • Summer break. There is no teaching in the summer of your degree.
  • No payment due.

Term 7) September – December 2025 | Academic year 2025/26

  • Embark on your 60-credit work-based project.
  • Fee for project = £2,700.
  • Payment due in September.

Term 8) January – April 2026

  • Complete your project.
  • No further payment is due.

MSc complete

On passing your project, you’ll have earned 180 credits and will be awarded an MSc.

Total fee for this route to your MSc = £7,740.

Infographic summarising the example payment schedule described above.

Learning resources

Access to all the books and resources you need are included in your tuition fee. They’ll be made available to you online and you do not have to buy your own copies.


You may wish to set aside a small budget for printing, depending on how you like to work.

There are several ways you may be able to get help funding your studies:

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

20% Alumni discount

You’re entitled to 20% off our postgraduate taught degrees and short courses if you have a degree from the University of Aberdeen. View Alumni discount details.

33% Discount for teachers

Qualified teachers domiciled in Scotland are eligible for a 33% discount. Email our support team for teachers’ discount information.

How discounts work

Discounts are applied during your application process. Only one discount can be used per application. If you are eligible for more than one discount, we will apply the largest discount for you.

Entry requirements

MSc, PgDip, PgCert

You can apply for this degree if you:

  • have an undergraduate degree
  • or can provide evidence that you can work at postgraduate level.

This degree involves some work-based learning, so you must also:

  • be able to undertake studies in your workplace or other appropriate agency.

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

See the minimum entry requirements above. If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check equivalent qualifications from your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

If English is not your first language, use our English requirements checklist to see if you need to provide evidence of your English language skills when you apply.

English language tests and scores

If you do need to provide English language test scores, these are the tests and minimum scores we accept.

These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements.

IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 21 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening and speaking
  • 169 for reading and writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You apply through our online Applicant Portal. It allows you to upload relevant qualifications and documents.

Applying to the University of Aberdeen is always free.

What you need to apply for this degree

  • Degree transcript
  • Personal statement
  • Degree certificate
  • References x2


You will need two reference letters. One should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time, you can use your current or most recent employers or other professional individuals.

You also need to apply on time

Apply as early as you can. Please apply at least two weeks before the degree start date. This is because we need time to review your application and get a decision to you. If you’re successful, we also want to enrol you before teaching starts.

Apply now

Start with our step-by-step guide. It explains degree transcripts, what to write in your personal statement and how to use our Applicant Portal.

You can apply to start in either September or January.

Apply as early as you can. This is so we have time to review your application and get a decision to you. We also want to ensure you have time to enrol before teaching starts.

September 2023 intake

For our September 2023 intake, the application deadline is 3 September 2023.

You will need to accept your offer and provide any outstanding documents to meet the conditions of your offer by 10 September 2023.

Teaching starts on 18 September 2023.

January 2024 intake

Teaching starts on 22 January 2024.

Application deadlines will be announced in due course.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

Master of Science

180 credits


This indicative cost is based on 180 credits of study over three years, starting in September 2023.

Postgraduate Diploma

120 credits


This indicative cost is based on 120 credits of study over two years, starting in September 2023.

Postgraduate Certificate

60 credits


This indicative cost is based on 30 credits of study per term, starting in September 2023.

Apply for this programme

Start month
September or January

This indicative cost is based on 180 credits of study over three years, starting in September 2023.

Apply via our Applicant Portal
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