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Developing leadership

This module offers you the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge leadership ideas in tandem with developing as a practitioner. You'll cover topics such as identity, person-based leadership, collective leadership, ethical leadership and aesthetic views of leadership. You’ll also learn how to be a more discerning and critically engaged consumer of leadership ideas in the workplace and, more generally, in society. The module follows a developmental approach, meaning that you’ll reflect on leadership practice in your working environment and/or the wider world and be well-placed to experiment with new concepts and practices as a result. 

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code




  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
2 9 5

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

Student Reviews

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What you will study

You'll learn about many of the major concepts of leadership, one of the oldest organisational concepts, with a history stretching back as far as the Ancient Greeks. Leadership is a practice and area of study that has persisted for so long for good reason: people find it incredibly appealing as an idea. At a very basic level, this is because leadership perhaps inevitably deals with big questions about the overall direction of a group, organisation or society. In addition, people tend, for good or ill, to find the idea of leaders exciting, even bewitching. 

You'll cover a broad range of ideas in this module: learn about various key concepts related to what it means to be a leader all the way through to far more recent accounts that hold that leadership resides more in the collective acts of people.

In more detail, you'll cover the following aspects of leadership.

  • Leadership as person: these are approaches that assume that leadership resides in individual leaders. These views try to generalise what it means to be an effective leader by studying the personalities and behaviours of individual leaders.
  • Collective leadership: these approaches assume that leadership is a practice conducted between people working together collectively in a group to offer direction.
  • Identity and power: you'll learn how leadership has become a desirable identity and how some people are (unfairly) deemed more suitable for leadership than others. You'll also learn how identities in groups can be refashioned to create leadership with more possibilities.
  • Leadership ethics: you'll learn about perspectives that try to understand what it means to be an ethical leader and also perspectives that help you understand ethical practices of leadership.
  • Leadership aesthetics: you'll learn how leadership can adopt an aesthetic quality that moves people. You'll learn how to interpret aesthetic presentations of leaders but also how to improve your leadership practices through aesthetic practices.

Key module practices

You'll be asked to follow these learning practices as you proceed through the module:

  • Understanding basic concepts of leadership. This is the important but more straightforward task of understanding what is meant by various key concepts, such as collaborative leadership, identity, and so on.
  • Noticing examples of leadership (good, bad and indifferent) in the world around you, in the mass media and in your daily lives.
  • Collecting examples of leadership – in the form of texts (written records of what people say) in order to notice how people talk leadership; pictures, photographs, paintings or sketches so that you can notice how people visualise leadership; audio and video, so that you can notice how people enunciate and visualise leadership.
  • Reflecting on these examples in relation to the concepts that you encounter in the module: their strengths and weaknesses. You'll reflect on the effect some concepts seem to have – or that they could have - in organisations and in society, whether or not they are helpful, harmful or somewhere in between. 
  • Self-reflection: targeting your practices, assumptions and views. You will be asked to think in some depth about what you hold to be significant and important in terms of leadership, which inevitably means reflecting upon your values and even your own background. In turn, you'll be asked to reflect upon how your sense of self and sense of what you find valuable in others translates across into your practice – in leadership terms and as a follower.
  • Experimenting with leadership concepts. Firstly, you'll be asked to experiment in terms of your thinking. This means trying to think outside your normal zones of comfort: for example, if you are someone who usually holds leadership to be something tied very much to charismatic individuals, you will benefit from trying to think about leadership as something tied to a collection of people or to a practice, instead. You'll be asking yourself: what does it mean to see a particular person, practice or group in a different way? Secondly, experimenting means really trying out new ideas in your own environments. This could mean experimenting with new ideas and practices in a paid working environment, in a voluntary environment or more informally in your everyday lives. By experimenting with leadership ideas in real life we come to see their potential because these are ideas that are based on real human interaction – or at least they should be.

You will learn

By the end of the module, you will be able to:

  • understand and describe key aspects of leadership
  • critically analyse and discuss various key approaches to leadership
  • find and discuss information in the media or in your own lives in relation to key concepts of leadership
  • critically reflect on your own beliefs and practices in relation to leadership
  • critically reflect on your own working environment in relation to leadership
  • communicate an approach to leadership rooted in an understanding of yourself and your working environment
  • experiment in your own lives with different approaches to leadership
  • reflect on and describe your learning in relation to key employability skills.

Vocational relevance

Many of the practices and skills you will adopt in this module – a sound understanding of leadership, critical thinking, communication in teams, self-reflection and finding and interpreting good information – will be attractive to employers.

Throughout the module, you will be asked to reflect upon and keep track of the employability skills you develop, and you will be supported to do this.

You will be able to make a note of the skills you develop, and you will be supported in thinking about how these can be used in future job applications. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials online that you are strongly encouraged, but not obliged, to attend.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Developing leadership starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 2 module, and if you have no previous experience of studying business management, it is strongly recommended that you first study An introduction to business management (B100) (or an equivalent).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 16/06/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

You’ll be provided with six printed module books, each covering one block of study. You’ll also have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials and forums.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying B208 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.