Specialist Qualification in Headship (and Educational Leadership) MEd

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What is special about this course?

Both the MEd Specialist Qualification in Headship and the MEd Educational Leadership are three-year, part-time online programmes for aspiring school leaders. The programmes connect directly with local authority and national leadership programmes. The first year of both programmes focuses on Middle Leadership, the second year offers the national Into Headship programme, and the third year offers either the national In Headship programme for those in post as a Headteacher to qualify with the MEd Specialist Qualification in Headship, or an alternative pathway for those in curriculum leadership to complete the MEd Educational Leadership.

The programme utilises a collaborative approach to online learning, with learning activities designed to develop teacher agency, support professional dialogue and develop skills in strategic leadership. You will choose the focus of your work for each module to fit with your professional role and responsibilities, whilst the collaborative learning activities support you and your fellow participants to work together on leadership practice and develop creative responses to leading change.

Please see our FAQ sheet for further information on this course.

Special features

  • Both degrees are online, allowing you to fit your studies around personal and professional commitments
  • Peer support is a strong theme, with online seminars enabling discussion with tutors and peers
  • Tutor support through one to one sessions, online or by phone
  • The degree is directly linked to the GTCS Standards for Leadership and Management (2012)
  • The programme connects the national awards for Into Headship and In Headship

Entry requirements

  • Honours or ordinary degree with relevant practice experience
  • You must be employed full- or part-time in an education setting, with current GTCS Registration as a Primary or Secondary teacher
  • For entry to years 2 and/or 3 of the MEd Specialist Qualification in Headship, you must be nominated by your employer

Year 1

  • Recognition of prior learning for work completed in local authority middle leadership programmes (40 credits)
  • Critical Reflection in Leadership UX311918 (20 credits)





Into Headship programme:

  • Developing as a Strategic Leader UX311927 (20 Credits)
  • Leading Strategic Change UX111928 (40 credits)


MEd Specialist Qualification in Headship
In Headship Programme:

  • Shaping Professional Identity and Practice UX311019 (20 credits)
  • Building Capacity in Excellence and Equity UX311018 (40 credits)

MEd Educational Leadership

  • Educational Enquiry Proposal UX311011 (20 credits)
  • Educational Enquiry UX311010 (40 credits)

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

As your course was designed to be fully online, we can confirm there is no change to how it will be delivered this year. You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment. Changes to the national face-to-face events arranged by Education Scotland and employers will be determined nationally using the Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of attendees.
  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn through a combination of webinars and tutorials, and online study via the University's virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors
  • There are two national face-to-face events for the Into Headship programme (September and March in year 2) and the In Headship programme (August and May in year 3). These are organised by Education Scotland and employers. Here you will have the opportunity to meet fellow participants and share the planning of your strategic change initiatives and the outcomes of your enquiry

How long will my course last?

  • Part-time (structured): 3 years

Where can I study my course?

  • Orkney College UHI - You can study this fully online programme from anywhere in Scotland. You will be enrolled and supported by staff at Orkney College UHI.

Start date

  • September


For information on costs of this course please contact the college at which you wish to study.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant UHI partner college for more information.

Additional Costs

Travel and accommodation costs for national meetings held for the Into Headship programme and the In Headship programme are met by nominating employers.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On successful completion of the PGCert Into Headship or PGDip Into Headship, you will be qualified to be appointed as a Head Teacher in Scotland.

On completion of any of the awards contained within this degree you will be qualified to apply for a wide range of leadership posts in settings such as schools, local authorities and partner institutions.

Can I progress into further study?

Upon successful completion of this course, you may wish to study an EdD or a PhD in Education. A Doctor of Education (EdD) is a professional degree designed for practitioners pursuing educational leadership roles. A PhD in Education, on the other hand, is designed to prepare graduates for research and teaching roles.

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for Specialist Qualification in Headship (and Educational Leadership) MEd

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2021

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.