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1 Year


Dr John Lydon
Dr John Lydon

Programme Director - Catholic School Leadership
020 8240 4216

Apply now for: January 2020, May 2020 and September 2020

Apply now

Apply now for: May 2019 and September 2019

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This programme is unique in that it is the only Catholic School Leadership master's programme offered currently in the UK, supporting specifically the distinctive leadership development for people at all levels of Catholic education, integrating a Catholic philosophy of education with the principles and practice of effective school leadership.

Why study Catholic School Leadership: Principles & Practice?

This highly regarded postgraduate degree will be of interest to all who hold or are aiming for leadership positions in Catholic schools and colleges.

About one-third of the 150-plus students are senior leaders - head teachers and college principals; deputies and assistant heads. The other two-thirds are subject or pastoral leaders, primary curriculum coordinators, classroom leaders or aspiring school leaders.

All are welcome and will enjoy participating. Securing quality leaders committed to modelling leadership on Christ constitutes one of the key challenges for Catholic and indeed all Christian schools.

This course aims to promote a vision that sees the maintenance of a balance between school improvement and Catholic distinctiveness as a feature of the mission of schools and colleges.

Why St Mary's?

Several students have cited the flexibility of this degree as a particular advantage since it is possible to complete the programme within one to five years.

The variety of modes of delivery, including blended and full-distance, also makes the programme especially attractive. The combination of personalised learning and tutorial support - together with the excellent reading materials and online resources - is noted by students as distinctive.

The course helps students understand the core aims and values of a Catholic school while encouraging them to reflect upon the reality of practice within their schools.

The programme can be completed in a minimum of one year (two semesters) full-time or two years (four semesters) part-time. The maximum allowed is five years (ten semesters), although you will normally be expected to complete the course within three academic years (six semesters).

To request a copy of the MA Catholic School Leadership information pack please email

Key facts

  • Integrates a Catholic philosophy of education with the principles and practice of contemporary school leadership
  • About one-third of the 150-plus students are senior leaders - headteachers and college principals; deputies and assistant heads
  • The majority of our students gain promotion while studying for their MA
  • Taught on our historic Strawberry Hill campus and at centres across the UK including Northern Ireland

Course content


  • Catholic Education (30 credits) 
  • Leadership and Management (30 credits) 
  • Research Methods and the Dissertation 
  • Spiritual and Theological Foundations 
Please refer to the programme specification document for a summary of the programme.

Career opportunities

The MA in Catholic School Leadership: Principles and Practice is the only postgraduate course of study available in the UK that specifically supports the distinctive leadership development needs of leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels and within all phases of Catholic education. NPQH is no longer a requirement for headship, so aspiring headteachers will find that this course offers the ideal alternative qualification.

The Careers Service has more information on graduate careers and part-time work available during your course.

How the degree is taught

Teaching and assessment

There is one 5,000 word written assignment for each of the four modules. Every assignment invites you to reflect on the theory covered and to then evaluate practice in your own school or college. You conclude with recommendations for improved practice (80%).

In order to achieve the MA students are required also to complete a 15,000-word dissertation. Students are supported by an intensive Research Methods module (15CSL7029), which has been increased gradually from two to four Saturday schools and equivalencies across all Centres. The programme encompasses input and discussions on the literature review and the fieldwork element of the research project.

As you study independently each of the four modules, guided by tasks within the study guide, you are invited to contribute to online discussion groups. Your contributions are assessed according to frequency, knowledge of material and quality of contributions to the discussions (20%).

Modes of study

Our flexible course can be accessed wherever you live - within the UK or overseas. The same high-quality course is offered through alternative modes of study designed to meet the varying needs of busy professionals.

The mode you will choose will depend upon your personal preferences and to some extent on geography because where you live may limit the options open to you.

Some people feel it is important to meet other colleagues regularly to discuss issues and they enjoy the 'face to face' contact with fellow students and tutors.

For those who are happy to work independently and feel they do not have the time to commit to regular seminars, the full distance mode may be perfect.


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Fees and funding

2020/21 fees

  • Home/EU: £6,490
  • International: £13,650

2019/20 fees

  • Home/EU: £6,240
  • International: £13,650

The UK Government has confirmed that EU applicants starting in 2019 or 2020 remain eligible for 'home fee status' and can access financial support.

Part-time fees

Part-time students will be charged for the modules undertaken per academic year. Module prices are calculated as a percentage of credits against the total credits and cost of the degree.

Tuition fees are subject to an inflationary increase each year, meaning if your course runs over more than one academic year you may pay an increased fee per module for each subsequent year of study. Tuition fee increases for returning students will be capped at the higher of 5% per annum or the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in the United Kingdom.


For guidance about financing your studies, including information about government-funded loans, please check out Fees & Funding section.

International Students should check their eligibility for our International Scholarship.

Alumni discount

A 20% tuition fee discount is available for our alumni (undergraduate and PGCE) planning to study this Master's degree. Those studying for a PGDip of PGCert are not eligible for the discount.

Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme.

Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken For further information about additional costs please contact

Further information

Previous dissertations

  1. The Extent to which Chaplaincy impacts upon challenges facing contemporary Catholic school communities.
  2. Spiritual leadership in the education market place
  3. Sharing responsibility: developing effective spiritual leadership within a small Catholic community
  4. The Challenge for Catholic School Leaders in Transmitting the Charism of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
  5. The extent to which Challenge The Gap interventions impact on the achievement of Pupil Premium Pupils in Catholic Primary Schools
  6. Facing the future with confidence: an evaluation of the distinctive nature of the curriculum in Catholic primary schools
  7. Sowing the Seed: implications for spiritual development in a Catholic secondary school
  8. Declining Catholic Populations: Maintaining the Distinctiveness of a Catholic Sixth Form College
  9. The Maintenance of the Christian Brothers Educational Vision
  10. 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him': in the face of increased governor scrutiny and accountability, the extent to which the governing body maintains the balance between school improvement and Catholic distinctiveness in a Lancashire Catholic Secondary School.