Skip header navigation

MSc Educational Leadership (Specialist Qualification for Headship)

Equip yourself for a future in educational leadership with our accredited Masters course. Study part-time and redefine your career possibilities.

Educational Leadership (Specialist Qualification for Headship)

GTC Scotland Logo

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date August
  • Duration MSc part-time: 36 months (not continuous)
  • Mode of study Part-time, Mixture of online and classroom delivery
  • Accreditations General Teaching Council

Our Masters in Educational Leadership is a practice-based course for aspiring and early-career school leaders.

The course cultivates the knowledge and understanding you’ll need to put informed strategic vision, values and aims into practice – helping you to lead change for improvement wherever you work. Through your studies, you’ll further develop your leadership and management practices in supportive, creative and challenging learning environments.

A flexible study route and a combination of face-to-face and online teaching makes it easier for you to fit your coursework around existing commitments, while the practice-based learning is set within your Professional Standards framework.

Please note: Prospective candidates for the Postgraduate Certificates “Into Headship” and “In Headship” must be sponsored by their local authority to apply for this Masters through the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    The course supports the professional growth of aspiring educational leaders and will enable you to contribute effectively to the improvement of practice in your own setting and the wider professional community. Specifically, it will help you to develop the means of using critical reflection to enhance your practice and develop the strategic leadership and management competencies specified by the GTCS. The course is also designed to support the development of strong professional networks both within and beyond the course.

  • Professional accreditations

    Both of the “Into Headship” modules on this course are accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Research

    In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Educational research at the University of Stirling had the highest quality of research outputs of any Scottish university, with 100% classed as either world-leading or internationally excellent. Our expert teaching team are on hand to introduce you to cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research in a multi-disciplinary and professional environment.

  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.

    Applicants for the MSc Educational Leadership (with Specialist Qualification for Headship) should be registered or eligible to register with the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

    Prospective applicants for the Postgraduate Certificate “Into Headship” must have demonstrated experience of significant leadership practice as appropriate in their sector and be sponsored by their local authority to apply through the Scottish College for Educational Leadership. You must normally be within two to three years of taking up a post as a head teacher and be sponsored by your local authority to apply through the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
    • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
    • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

    More information on our English language requirements

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Gain essential qualifications for headship in Scotland and grow within the national framework for educational excellence.

The MSc Educational Leadership (with Specialist Qualification for Headship) course has three stages:

  • Middle Leadership
  • Into Headship – one of the core components of this MSc will be a mandatory qualification for candidates applying for head teacher positions in Scotland from 2020. 
  • In Headship


The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    At the heart of the MSc Educational Leadership is the Specialist Qualification for Headship, which is embedded in the “Into Headship” modules. This element of the course is accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, which means this work-based Masters course incorporates both a professional and academic award.

    This course is offered on a part-time basis only. The period of study is normally three years for the MSc, although this programme is unlikely to be taken over three consecutive years. You must complete six modules for the MSc degree.

    Modules are delivered through a blended learning format designed to facilitate both individual and collaborative work. The format is a mix of face-to-face seminar days, guided self-study, online and work-based learning.

  • Course director
  • Key staff

    Course Director, Dr Valerie Drew, is a member of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership national design group for the new mandatory Specialist Qualification for Headship. She is also part of the Standing Committee for ProPEL, an International Network for Research into Professional Practice, Education and Learning based in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

  • Fees and costs

    The funding plan for the Into Headship modules 1 and 2 is decided by the Scottish Government.

    2019/20 Home EU Fees - £3066.00

  • Scholarships and funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support. .

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Into Headship – one of the core components of this MSc – will be a mandatory qualification for candidates applying for head teacher positions in Scotland from 2020.

Additionally, after graduating from the course you may also wish to pursue further studies in the form of a Doctorate in Education.

  • Companies we work with

    The MSc Educational Leadership has been designed and developed in partnership with the Scottish College for Educational Leadership and other stakeholders across the education community and is accredited by the GTCS.

    We work with:

    • Local Authorities
    • General Teaching Council for Scotland
    • Education Scotland
Scroll back to the top

Which course would you like to apply for?

MSc Educational Leadership (Specialist Qualification for Headship)

Search for another course