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  4. Senior Leader Apprenticeship

Senior Leader Apprenticeship

The Open University Senior Leader Apprenticeship provides current and future leaders and senior managers with high-level leadership and management skills, core competencies and desired behaviours to become more effective leaders.

Our Senior Leader Apprenticeship develops inclusive leaders who are responsible for developing ethical, innovative and supportive cultures with the ability to deliver results, manage complexity and instigate change. Apprentices receive high-quality higher education learning from our triple-accredited Business School and can instantly apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills into their working environment.

It also provides employers with a useful tool to further develop and retain staff and providing a pipeline for the future.

Who is it for?

A strategic leader is someone who has senior management responsibility, which may include formal governance or director responsibilities. They are responsible for setting strategy, direction and vision, for providing a clear sense of purpose and driving strategic intent.

The apprenticeship will be suitable for current and future senior leaders in organisations of all sizes in the private, public or third sector. New and existing staff can be enrolled onto the programme.

Why choose The Open University Senior Leader Apprenticeship?

  • Delivered flexibly around the demands of your organisation, using our tutor-supported, rich-media online learning methods 
  • Learning can be delivered simultaneously to various locations using our tried-and-trusted educational technology, providing a consistent programme for multiple staff
  • Designed and delivered by the triple accredited Open University Business School, which is ranked in the top 1% of business schools worldwide that are triple-accredited 
  • Apprentices can apply what they learn immediately into practice, for the positive benefit of the organisation 
  • Since 2016, The Open University has offered apprenticeships to help organisations grow their own talent. In England, The Open University offers higher and degree-level programmes in healthcare, policing, social work, digital and management 

What core topics does the apprenticeship cover?

The programme content and assessment strategy are mapped to the Senior Leader Apprenticeship standard*.

Modules in this programme include: 

  • Managing in a changing world
  • Leadership in practice (work-based learning module)
  • Effective strategic management in business and the public sector 
  • Finance for strategic decision making. 

They are designed for professionals from a wide range of backgrounds who need to engage with the challenges of 21st century management and leadership. The apprenticeship helps leaders to develop skills and knowledge of management frameworks, theories and tools, and to use these appropriately in order to make a real difference in their own leadership practice.

Key areas covered are: 

  • leadership
  • developing agile and collaborative cultures
  • strategic management 
  • managing in an international/intercultural context 
  • managing people
  • financial management 
  • marketing
  • change management 
  • project management 
  • peer learning
  • practice-based reflection  
  • English skills with qualifications where required 
  • maths skills with qualifications where required

Level and included qualifications

This apprenticeship standard is at Level 7. 

Apprentices who successfully complete the programme will gain the following qualifications:

  • Senior Leader Apprenticeship Certification
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Practice, awarded by The Open University
  • English and maths functional skills at Level 2, if not previously achieved

Successful apprentices may also be eligible to apply for membership of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) or the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), depending on their management experience.

Entry requirements

A minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, professional or technical role is required so that apprentices have a practical business base from which to build their postgraduate learning, as well as an honours degree awarded by a recognised UK university or equivalent. Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree, so please contact us if a prospective apprentice holds a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK degree. An example of this is The Open University Professional Certificate in Management.


In addition to account management support, your organisation and/or the apprentice will also be allocated with the following resources:

  • Practice Tutor - Helps to integrate learning into the workplace across the entire programme and supports the delivery of the work-based learning modules. The practice tutor will conduct quarterly tripartite progress review meetings with the apprentice and their line manager.
  • Academic Tutor - Facilitates learning within the study modules at each stage of the qualification through personalised tuition, student support and feedback. 
  • Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager - Supports employers to deliver their apprenticeship programmes and manages the apprentice journey from start to successful completion, providing employers with apprentice progress data on a regular basis.
  • English and Maths Functional Skills Tutors - Provides additional support to apprentices requiring qualifications in these subjects.  These specialist tutors are able to provide one-to-one support in areas of challenge and to help prepare the apprentice for the formal qualification tests.


* Find out more about the standard here.

Course Summary


Typically 2 years

Note: The first cohort starting in May 2021 will have an on-programme period of 27 months plus EPA period. Subsequent cohorts will have a typical on programme period of 21 months plus EPA period.

Qualification achieved

Apprentices who successfully complete the programme will gain:

  • Senior Leader Apprenticeship Certification
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Practice, awarded by The Open University
  • English and maths functional skills qualifications at Level 2, if not previously achieved
Contact us

For a more detailed look at our Senior Leader Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

Download brochure