MA in Catholic School Leadership: Principles and Practice

 Delivered and assessed in partnership with St Mary’s University, Twickenham




To whom will the programme be of interest and value?

This highly regarded modular postgraduate course will be of interest to all who hold or are aiming for leadership positions in Catholic schools and colleges. Currently, about one-third of the 150+ course members are senior leaders - headteachers and college principals, deputies and assistant headteachers. Two-thirds are subject or pastoral leaders, primary curriculum coordinators, classroom leaders or aspiring school leaders. All are welcome and will enjoy participating.

The aim is to provide a course that integrates a Catholic philosophy of education with the principles and practice of effective school leadership. There is a national shortage of high quality applicants for senior leadership posts in Catholic education - we need to promote the professional development of future senior Catholic school leaders.


What you will study:

Module 1: Catholic Education

 Know the history to build for the future. We explore the development of Catholic education from the early contributions of the religious orders, through Vatican II, to the issues facing contemporary Catholic education. We also explore the importance of community and community building in Catholic education.


Module 2: Leadership and Management

An in-depth exploration of current leadership and management theories with a particular emphasis on theories which are compatible with the gospel values we promote. This module will be of real practical value to colleagues in middle and senior leadership positions. It will also be invaluable to colleagues who aspire to such positions.


Module 3: Spiritual and Theological Foundations

Builds upon the content of module 1 to ensure Catholic school leaders can clearly articulate the case for our distinctive learning communities. The theological foundations underpinning the reasons for the Catholic Church’s educational mission are discussed. Spirituality and the significance of spiritual leadership in our schools and colleges are explored in depth.


Module 4: Leadership for Learning

How distinctive should the Catholic school curriculum be?

How do we define ‘excellence’ in the context of the Catholic learning community?

What is the role of the holders of teaching and learning responsibilities in the Catholic school?

How do we respond to the challenges of inspection and self-evaluation?



Why this course is different:

This is the only postgraduate course available in the UK that specifically supports 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.



Learning outcomes:

Full details of the module content, aims and learning outcomes can be found on the course website. Successful completion of two modules qualifies for the award of a Postgraduate Certificate; four modules for the award of a Diploma. For the award of an MA, a research methods module is studied and a dissertation completed. All assignments and the dissertation allow students to research and reflect upon practice in their own school or college.


  • Teaching and assessment
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Discussion
  • Individual and group activities
  • Online activities and discussions
  • Textbooks
  • Module Booklets
  • Readings
  • Study Guides
  • Online library of resources


There is one 5,000 word written assignment for each module. 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%).

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



Entry requirements:

The course is open to all who have a first degree and who are committed to Catholic education or who have relevant experience of working in Catholic schools. Accredited Prior Learning will be considered on a case by case basis. The following prior qualifications constitute accredited prior learning in respect of the programme:


  • Holders of National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH) can gain exemption from up to 30 credits. This reduces the number of assignments to be completed and fees significantly reduced.
  • Holders of the NPQML and NPQSL and related qualifications.
  • A full exemption from up to two modules excluding is available for students who have gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with 60 credits at M-level subject to the ‘M’ level assignments.



Professional development and career progression:

A high proportion of our students gain promotion while studying for their MA. The knowledge gained during the course gives confidence at interview and the ability to clearly articulate what makes Catholic education distinctive. The course is equally rewarding for those middle or senior-level leaders seeking relevant professional development.



Staff profiles:

View full staff profiles



How to apply:

Further information about fees and how to apply for September 2020 entry

Sarah Samadizadeh (Programme Administrator) is available to assist and provide further guidance relating to courses fees and the application process.


Contact details:  

+44 (0) 20 8240 4243

[email protected]



All Saints RC School, Nunnery Lane, York, YO23 1JG


Course start:

Begins in Autumn 2020 with Module 1 ‘Catholic Education’


Course length:

 Part-time 2-3 years