Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change

This module explores educational leadership and management in a range of global contexts through scholarship, research and your own professional practice. It is also the first of three specialist modules in the Leadership and Management route within our Masters degree in Education (F70). You’ll examine models of leadership, of leading professional learning and of change. It will help you to make links between research and your own professional practice and identity by reflecting on current issues. Through collaborative learning with other students from diverse settings and backgrounds, you’ll gain insights into a range of other professional educational contexts. You will need some experience of working with learners either through a teaching, tutoring or professional development context, but is not essential that you have access to, or currently work in, an education setting.

Vocational relevance

This module is explicitly focussed on developing your educational practice. It will enhance your professional development as a practice leader and your ability to provide educational leadership within your organisation or sector.


EE811 is an optional module in our:

EE811 is the recommended Stage 1 module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


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 postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module is divided into five sections around the key concepts of agency, professional learning and change.

The first provides an overview of the field and introduces key concepts of agency, knowledge, power and identity. It explains some of the research skills you will develop including searching the literature and reading critically. It helps you to start to reflect on your professional practice through a learning journal and forum discussions with other students from many settings.

The second section looks at views of leadership and challenges some commonly held notions of what it means to be a leader. You will start with your own practice and consider issues to do with agency, power and structure, and how they impact on you and other stakeholders. You will read individual research articles and develop critical reading skills and you will discuss with your peers in the tutor group forum the impacts on leadership in different educational contexts including Health, HE and Schools. The first assignment is linked to this section of the module.

The third section looks at leading professional learning. Here you will explore characteristics of effective professional development, linking your own experience with evidence from research and theoretical constructs such as power, agency and views of knowledge. Different approaches to professional learning will be examined and analysed, including networks, communities of practice, and practitioner research and implications on the leadership for professional learning. You will continue to develop skills in searching for relevant literature and reflecting critically by engaging in the discussions in your tutor group forum. This section leads to a second assignment.

The fourth section of the module considers the leadership of educational change. You will examine theories of change and the management of change. You will analyse the practice(s) in your own setting in the light of these theories and concepts such as agency, power and identity. You will further extend your ability to engage critically with the literature (and your own practice) and to synthesise evidence from a range of sources. The structured tutor group forum discussions will enable you to collaborate with your peers to deepen your understanding of the issues of educational change, drawing on a wider range of contexts and multiple perspectives. The third assignment will focus on the leadership of educational change, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your growing expertise in making use of the literature and your ability to use concepts and theories explored in the module to analyse practice.

The final section provides the opportunity to review and critically reflect on the module as a whole, pulling together all of the strands that have been addressed and consolidating your understandings and research competences in preparation for the final assessment (EMA) which accounts for 50% of your overall grade.

As you progress through the module you will progressively take on greater responsibility for managing your own learning. Studying the module requires an average of 15 hours per week, moving from guided study to independent study as you progress. Throughout, there is an expectation you will participate in both tutor group discussions (as part of your guided study) and module forum discussions (as part of your independent study). The tutor group forums feed directly into the assignments.

Improvement in your leadership practice is an integral part of the module and the recording of your own professional development is an aspect that runs throughout. You will be guided in how you can recognise and capture these skills.

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. You and your tutor will primarily communicate with each other through email and tutorials. Tutorials are offered via online meeting rooms. Your tutor will also moderate the four structured discussion activities that will take place in your tutor group forum over the course of the module.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.
You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2023, the last time we expect it to start. 


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

    You should be prepared for study at postgraduate level and have the minimum of a bachelors degree (in any subject) from a UK University or an equivalent professional qualification. We warmly welcome applications from students who have an undergraduate degree level qualification from universities outside the UK and which is deemed equivalent to a UK higher education degree.

    You need to be able to spend approximately 15-18 hours per week on studying this module.

    Preparatory work

    The module website will be available to registered students two weeks in advance of module start. You may find it helpful to explore the guidance entitled ‘supporting your study’ that includes activities designed to develop familiarity and confidence with some of the tools you will encounter in the module’s online environment. On registration, you will also have access to the Masters in Education subject website which has a range of resources and introduces you to some postgraduate induction materials. 


    Start End England fee Register
    07 Oct 2023 Jun 2024 £2520.00

    Registration closes 14/09/23 (places subject to availability)

    October 2023 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change starts once a year – in October.

    This page describes the module that will start in October 2023, the last time we expect it to start. 

    Additional costs

    Study costs

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

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    All study materials are provided on the module website. This includes a Reader, the module study guide, audio/video material and a range of tools to support your study, including real-time conferencing and online 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 (11 'Big Sur' 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

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and where applicable: musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future. 

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.