MPhil in Education (Educational Leadership and School Improvement)


The overall aims of this specialist route are to enable participants to develop:

  An advanced knowledge and understanding of educational leadership and school improvement

  A set of skills for analysing educational leadership and school improvement issues and practices

  The ability to bring together theoretical perspectives on educational leadership and school improvement and apply an informed critique of their inter-relationship

  The ability to contribute to informed development of policy and practice in educational contexts

  Familiarity with a range of frameworks for understanding pupil, professional and organisational learning

The route content is covered through eight interrelated themes.

1.     Leadership for Learning

2.     Policy, Structures, and Change

3.     School Effectiveness and School Improvement

4.     Issues and Dilemmas

5.     Perspectives on Leadership

6.     Perspectives on Learning

7.     Schools, Cultures, and Communities

8.     Education Evaluation


This route focuses on leadership and learning in the context of school improvement and with reference to practice, policy, and theory. The concept of leadership is treated as problematic and examined as it applies to pupils, teachers, and support staff as well as those with formal leadership responsibilities. The route is underpinned by the values and principles of "Leadership for Learning: the Newcastle Network" these beliefs include a democratic concept of leadership rather than a hierarchical one and a view of learning as a shared enterprise crossing the traditional divisions between 'teachers' and 'learners'.

The route is aimed at a wide audience including practitioners studying part-time as well as full-time students. It is of relevance and interest to teachers, middle leaders, head teachers/principals, advisers, and others as well as to graduate students interested in the area of leadership and school improvement. We draw on participants' experiences, and students pursue their particular interest by undertaking an individual empirical research project.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Educational Leadership and School Improvement route, students are expected to be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of literature and concepts relating to educational leadership, school improvement, and learning;
  •  show abilities in the critical analysis of educational leadership and school improvement issues and practices;
  •  apply knowledge and understanding of educational research to plan and implement enquiry into an issue related to the route;
  • communicate the outcomes of their study and research through extended writing conforming to stipulated academic expectations and conventions.


Students wishing to continue from the MPhil in Education to PhD are required to achieve:


1) an average of 70 across both sections with the thesis counting as double-weighted (eg: (Essay 1 + Essay 2 + thesis + thesis) divided by 4 = 70 or above.


2) a straight mark of 70 or higher for the thesis.



The course is composed of two key elements: (i) the research methods training course and (ii) the 'Educational Leadership and School Improvement' thematic route.  Teaching time is split between both elements, with 32 hours of teaching being provided in research methods and 64 hours in the thematic route.  The elements are taught through a mixture of lectures, smaller group seminars and individual supervisions.


One to one supervision          

9 hours (one to one).


Seminars & classes   

96 hours (mix of lectures and smaller group seminars).


96 hours (mix of lectures and smaller group seminars).


In the Easter term students are required to give short presentations with slides about their research.


Each term, written work is submitted and formative feedback is provided.  Informally, feedback will also be provided through regular supervisions (three times a term).  At the end of each term, supervisors are required to provide a report on student progress which can be viewed by the student through CGSRS.



Thesis: Up to 20,000 words.

Where a candidate receives a provisional fail mark, an oral examination is required.


Essay 1: 6,000-6,500 words.


Essay 2: 6,000-6,500 words.

Go to top