Educational leadership: concepts, change and challenges

This module challenges ideas about what it means to be an educational leader, whatever your current role. You’ll compare models of leadership through interactive materials, guided readings, audio-visual case studies and interviews with practitioners and experts. It will help you to reflect on your own experience and professional goals and to develop new and critical perspectives on leading learning and influencing change and current leadership debates.

Vocational relevance

You will need some experience of working with learners either through a teaching, tutoring, training, or professional development context, but it's not essential that you have access to, or currently work in, an education setting. This module will enhance your professional development and practice in the leadership of learning and support your ability to provide educational leadership within your organisation or sector. Students come from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds.


EE841 is recommended for the Leadership and management specialism at Stage 1 of our:

EE841 is an optional 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.

What you will study

You will study diverse ways of approaching educational leadership challenges around the world in different sectors. Each section of the module is clearly signposted with time for reading, preparing assessments, resources to get to know the library, and a digital bookshelf for a choice of independent reading. As you progress you will be guided to manage your own study, expected to participate in module and tutor group discussions, and prompted to record your professional goals and improvement in leadership practice.

Section 1: Introduction
This is an orientation to the module and to the broad interdisciplinary field of educational leadership. You will start to engage creatively with module themes and postgraduate ways of working with advice from tutors and students. You'll reflect on your professional thinking and practice through a learning journal and forum discussions with other students from diverse international settings. 

Section 2: Concepts
This section introduces key concepts, including influence, power, agency, identity, collaboration, culture, and the shape of organisations. As you encounter different theories you are encouraged to question and challenge as you explore what happens if we view leadership in a particular way. You'll consider where ideas about educational leadership come from and how leaders work in organisations especially education and health. You will apply this through activities, case studies and the digital bookshelf and find out about library skills.

Section 3: Change
You'll explore leading for educational change with a focus on what happens before, during and after change initiatives. You'll think about the contemporary drivers for educational change, locally and globally, issues of leadership and gender, how models might help explain change and how change can be sustained. Through activities, readings and audio and video case studies you will explore the role of leadership in supporting change processes and the people involved. You'll think about plans for change in a setting or situation of your choice.

Section 4: Challenges
In this section you'll think about global and local challenges and how educational leaders and organisations may respond and adapt to challenging contexts. One challenge is moving towards sustainability in an era of climate change. Other case studies include providing education for refugees, leading education in a young offender unit, and the wider context of accountability and performance. You'll also investigate the challenges and opportunities of engaging with research on educational leadership. There is an opportunity to explore an aspect of interest through literature and your ability to use concepts and theories within the module to analyse practice.

Section 5: Looking back, looking forward  
The closing section provides the opportunity to review and critically reflect on the module, pulling together the strands that have been addressed, in preparation for the end-of-module assignment, which accounts for 50% of your overall grade. 

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.


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

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Educational leadership: concepts, change and challenges 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 2031.


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 bachelor's 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 degree in Education website which has a range of resources and introduces you to some postgraduate induction materials.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £2720.00

Registration closes 12/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2031.

Future availability

Educational leadership: concepts, change and challenges 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 2031.

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, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • assessment guidance
  • a digital bookshelf
  • a module study guide and interactive module map
  • audio/video material
  • online tutorial rooms
  • online forums

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). Our resources have been accessibility checked and information to support accessibility of these resources will be found on the module website, which is available during study. This includes alternative formats of the module materials where available, which may be extended in the future.

Where possible, we can make reasonable adjustments to facilitate your participation where a learning difficulty or disability may impact studying.

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

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