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Leadership in the digital world

In this course, we will explore selected aspects of leadership, including whether or not leadership has fundamentally changed in the digital era. We will suggest some specific ways of leading teams that help you focus ‘on doing the right things’. You will be encouraged to take an objective look at your own leadership effectiveness, and to build on all that you learn to define a development plan.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

The course comprises eight units:

Unit 1: Leadership in context
The course begins with exploring the reasons why ‘leadership’ generates so much debate amongst so many people – researchers, academics, journalists, as well as leaders themselves – and why people have been fascinated by leadership over the millennia.

Unit 2: Making sense of leadership
There are many different theories about leadership and the approaches that will maximise the chances of success. In this unit, we examine some of these theories, reflecting on the differences and similarities between them.

Unit 3: Leadership in a digital world
We will now turn our attention to leadership in the digital world. You might reasonably assume that in a world so radically different from a few decades ago, the nature of leadership has also fundamentally changed. We explore that notion, and test assumptions about what has changed and what endures.

Unit 4: Developing the skills of leadership
This unit will see us pick up threads from the preceding units and focus on how you can develop your skills as a leader. We ask you to identify leaders you admire, to highlight their key attributes, and to start to think about what you need to do to become the leader you seek to be.

Unit 5: Leadership at different levels
We explore different kinds of leadership roles and consider how the task of leadership evolves as you take on more senior, and therefore more complex, roles.

Unit 6: The importance of feedback
The focus of this unit will be on a single activity: asking for feedback from one or more colleagues. Asking people whose opinion you trust will help you to understand your current leadership in greater detail. 

Unit 7: Leading in uncertain times
In this unit, we'll explore examples of leadership in challenging circumstances, considering what is required of leaders during times of uncertainty.

Unit 8: Your plan, your leadership
In the final unit, it’s time to draw together the threads of your learning. We will focus on how you'll use what you have learned to grow your leadership skills, and to help you be an even more effective leader.

All the information you need to complete the course is provided within each unit. There are also other links to material and resources provided, to explore topics further as you wish.

You will learn

By the end of this course, you'll be able to: 

  • explain why the subject of leadership attracts so much attention
  • summarise different schools of thought on leadership
  • identify the characteristics of successful leadership in a digital context
  • reflect on the attributes of leaders that you particularly admire
  • identify key differences at increasingly senior levels of leadership
  • identify strategic goals for your development
  • reflect on the implications of different leadership case studies for your own leadership.
  • create a plan to develop your growth as a leader.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.

Practice-based assignment

There is a practice-based assignment (PBA) which you complete at the end of the course to demonstrate how you have applied, or are intending to apply, the theories and models you have learnt. Once completed and successfully passed you will receive a digital badge and a course completion certificate which you can download as a record of your learning.


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.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic requirements.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

The course will require around 20 hours to complete.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £250.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

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

All learning materials, exercises, study support and practice-based assignment are delivered entirely online. 

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.

Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

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 course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying BGXC009 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.