Leadership in an Academic Context

FacultyWestminster Business School

This module recognises the complexities of leadership in an academic context where leadership is primarily a distributed practice, and leadership skills such as influencing, persuading, negotiating and motivating others are an essential element of developing and enhancing the student experience.

The module will enable you to develop your leadership skills in coordinating, managing and leading the development of effective approaches to teaching and supporting learning in higher education. It takes a solutions-focused approach to developing your existing strengths. You will achieve this through critical reflection on theory, research and practice relevant to academic leadership, through development of an e-portfolio of your professional experience, and by participating in online mentoring activities as part of a collaborative learning community of experienced academics.

Who is this module for?

To be eligible for this module, you need sustained experience (typically at least four years) relating to teaching and learning. This will include experience of coordinating, supporting, mentoring, influencing or otherwise leading teaching and learning practice in your local context(s) – perhaps as a course leader, convenor of a large module teaching team, as a learning and teaching champion or local coordinator, through leading specific aspects of teaching practice, or as a mentor to other colleagues. This will enable you to satisfy the requirements of HEA Senior Fellowship and ensure that you have enough experience on which to draw to develop your own and others' leadership practice through the module.

Before applying, please contact the module leader Steven Cranfield at [email protected] to ensure you have the necessary experience.

If you are a University of Westminster member of staff please read the guidance for internal applicants under the Further Information tab.

Courses no longer available
Start date Duration Day and time Price Apply
22 September 2017 1 semester flexible £975 Already started

Course content

The module gives you an opportunity to critically evaluate practice experience in relation to theory and research relevant to leadership in academic contexts and to the experience of your fellow participants, colleagues and tutors. You will explore key concepts, theories and research relevant to coordinating, managing, supporting, mentoring or otherwise leading and influencing teaching and learning practice. You will do this in relation to your own local context and that of your fellow participants.

Main themes and topics supporting this process include:

  • institutional and higher education context and implications for leading and influencing the development of teaching and learning
  • different leadership styles, theories and approaches and their relative usefulness in academic leadership contexts
  • leading and developing individuals, groups and teams to enhance teaching, learning and assessment
  • negotiating individual differences and diversity, facilitating inclusive participation and encouraging climates for staff and student learning
  • coaching, mentoring and managing individual and team performance to enhance teaching, learning and assessment and feedback activity
  • motivating and influencing others and communicating with impact to enhance teaching, learning and assessment
  • relationship building, networking, negotiation and collaboration
  • issues of politics, power and identities in an academic context

Teaching and learning methods

You should expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week working on the module, which will be delivered by online distance learning. You will work through a range of background resources, including core readings for each topic and relate this material to your own experience of academic leadership. You will also be expected to contribute to online collaborative activities and to maintain a reflective record of your engagement with course resources and activities through an online blog and through posting comments on the blogs of your peers. You should consider your fellow participants as one of the most important resources in helping you develop your leadership skills and thinking about leadership in an academic context. Participants will be encouraged to engage in online peer mentoring activity and support the development of fellow participants' leadership skills.


The assessment will consist of:

  • an e-portfolio to evidence and demonstrate a critical evaluation of your practice in coordinating, managing, supporting, mentoring or otherwise leading and influencing teaching and learning practice (4,000 words, excluding appendices and supporting evidence)
  • a webcast simulating your provision of coaching and mentoring support (indicative length 10-15 minutes, equivalent to 1,000 words)

After completing this module, you will be better able to:

  • demonstrate a sustained record of impacting and influencing approaches to teaching and supporting learning, underpinned by subject and pedagogical knowledge, across all five areas of activity of the HEA's UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) at Descriptor 3 level
  • demonstrate a sustained commitment to continuing professional development in relation to organising, managing, supporting, mentoring or otherwise leading and influencing teaching, learning and assessment in changing academic contexts
  • critically evaluate and reflect on your own and others' experience and impact in coordinating, managing, supporting, mentoring or otherwise leading and influencing teaching and learning practice
  • draw on relevant theory, research, evidence-informed practice, and peer and tutor support to analyse the your leadership practice and that of others, identifying areas for development for impacting and influencing teaching and learning
  • provide mentoring and coaching support to help colleagues develop their ability to organise, manage, support or otherwise lead and influence in changing academic contexts

Applicants should normally hold a first degree from a recognised institution (minimum Lower Second Class Honours or international equivalent), demonstrate interest and motivation in the subject area, and be teaching at least 72 hours per year at UK higher education level 4 or above, including in further education, private college settings and internationally (international qualification levels taught will be checked against UK equivalents).

Alternative professional qualifications with at least three years' relevant professional experience will also be considered.

If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6 in each element.

Guidance for internal applicants

If you are a University of Westminster employee or PhD student, we require less information from you as we already hold some of it in the HR systems. We have produced a document to take you through the UKPASS process and let you know what you need to fill in. Please download and refer to our UKPASS application guide (PDF).

Internal applicants (including PhD students) also need line manager approval to gain exemption from course fees. Please complete the fee exemption form (DOC) and upload it when applying through UKPASS.