The M.Ed in Leadership and Policy in Education offers participants the opportunity to undertake a general study of the theory and practice of educational leadership and management.

Six students in a lecture theatre

Course Contact

Course Strand Leader: Dr Gavin Murphy | Email

Who is this course for?

The Master of Education (Leadership and Policy) is designed with education professionals in mind, especially primary and post-primary/ secondary (K-12) teachers. The programme is particularly suited to those ​who are interested in educational leadership and change, and who seek to progress their careers as leaders in school or system leadership roles. The focus throughout is on understanding and cultivating leadership in complex educational organisations and systems across diverse contexts and communities. This is a blended programme offering, with sessions both online and face-to-face in Trinity College Dublin.

The programme will empower students to develop a sophisticated and evidence-informed understanding of educational leadership and management, fusing theories, practice and contemporary research. Key features of the programme include: its expert researcher and practitioner team; its global perspective; its focus on school review, state-of-the-art research, collaborative leadership, and equity embedded at every stage; structured opportunities for reflection and experiential learning; and partnerships with key system leaders who collaboratively lead sessions on the programme.    

The programme is particularly suited to:  

  • Teacher leaders (both formal and informal)
  • Middle leaders, such as curriculum leaders, mentors and assistant principals
  • Educators who aspire to senior school or system leadership roles
  • Principals or directors of educational organisations
  • System leaders working in support services or school evaluation
  • Educators who wish to learn more about educational policy making and the legislative context

Course Structure

The course has a taught component and a research component. It may be taken on a full-time or part-time (either two or three-year) basis. The taught component comprises five modules. It includes four distinct strand modules each including 20 hours of direct contact time and the common M. Ed. module on Academic Literacy and Research Methods to empower students' research literacy and practice. The research component includes a 20,000-word dissertation, completed under the guidance of an individually appointed supervisor.

Course Modules

Module 1 | Key constructs and issues in educational leadership and management

This introductory module examines the concepts of leadership and management in education. The module aims to introduce participants to the theory and practice of leadership and management with specific reference to the field of education, and to explore the purpose(s) of education and schooling as well as well as the principles that underpin contemporary educational practice. The differences between leadership and management are examined both in theory and practice. The range of contemporary issues explored in this module include administration, management, and leadership; collaborative, middle and distributed leadership; the national policy context, professional standards, and school self-evaluation; leadership as professional enquiry; the leadership and management of change as integral to educational practice; and the role of leadership concerning equity, diversity and inclusion.

Module 2 | Ethical leadership for wellbeing and equity in schools

People and the community are integral to schools as organisations. This module aims to impact participants' understanding of the theory, and an appreciation of the practices, for leading people and considering the school, its context and its community. The emphasis on this module is on intertwining theory and reflective practices through exploring the broad concept of wellbeing, the affective/ emotional, ethical leadership, social justice and care in pursuit of leading improvement in broad educational outcomes in schools. Therefore, transformational and transformative dimensions of leadership and management are central to this module. Experiential learning is facilitated through further exploration of personal and interpersonal skills viewed through the theoretical and practical lens of: motivation; systems thinking and problem solving; conflict management; sense-making; and theories of action.

Module 3 | Leading student and professional learning

A core purpose of educational leadership and management is to promote learning – both student learning and professional learning. This module is designed to explore the leadership and management of ‘learning organisations’, with extensive focus on schools. Participants are introduced to pedagogy, theories of learning (including adult learning) and the ‘science of learning’ as approaches for leaders to deepen and enrich their understanding of the leadership and management of learning in schools. In examining student and professional learning, contemporary research, policy and practice issues are critically reviewed, not limited to, but including ‘accountability’, ‘quality’, ‘social and emotional learning’ and ‘mentoring and coaching’. A number of guest lecturers form part of this series in collaboration with the module leader, facilitating engagement with relevant national and international stakeholders, with each lecture focusing on a distinct contemporary issue related to student and/ or professional learning. Finally, the concept of school as a professional learning community is debated and critically appraised from multiple perspectives.

Module 4 | Educational policy, law and leadership

Given that policies both external and internal to schools are shaped by international, national and local actors, the first session in this module examines simple yet complex questions, such as 'what is policy?' and critically considers contemporary policies shaping educators' practices. The subsequent focus on law and education is a key advantage of completing this programme. Having considered policy more broadly, the module then looks a the statutory framework within which education is exercised in the Irish context, this module explores the nature of existing Irish educational structures. Participants are introduced to the broad principles of the Irish legal system and the processes of judicial review as they impinge on the leadership and management of schools. In familiarizing participants with the principles of natural justice and appraising the role of the teacher in the common law system, the module examines the education related provision of the Constitution of Ireland 1937. Raising the profile of human rights and equality of opportunity in the provision of education is a guiding principle of this module.


Each of the four modules is individually assessed. The integration of theory and reflection on practice, alongside contemporary educational research policy, is emphasized. Full details regarding specific method of assessment for each module are provided at the beginning of each module.



Leadership and Policy in Education is endorsed by the Centre for School Leadership.

When is the deadline date for applications to the M. Ed. (Leadership and Policy) strand?

The deadline date for the Leadership and Management strand is the 31st July 2023 for the following academic year. We encourage early applications, however and no late applications will be considered.

What type of professional experience is required in order to be considered for a place on the programme?

All applicants should have a minimum of 2 years employment experience in an educational setting, ideally an early childhood, primary or post-primary/ secondary school (K-12 school setting) with some formal or informal leadership experience, either within or outside of the classroom. We also welcome those with system leadership experience, such as those with experience in policy-making, professional support services, or school and/ or system evaluation.

What do I need to include in my application?

All applicants must submit i) an up-to-date CV; ii) a true copy of the transcripts for your primary degree; and iii) two references (one academic, i.e. from lecturers/professors who have taught you in the past and either another academic or professional i.e. from your professional experience as an educator). Students who have not studied their primary degree through the medium of English must also submit a certificate of competence in English (accepted certificates are available HERE).

Are there any additional requirements for full-time applicants?

In addition, applicants to the full-time route to M.Ed. must submit a description of the area of research interest (template available HERE). Please endeavour to connect this in part to the focus of strand modules.

Is the programme suitable for international students?

Yes, every year a number of international students enrol on the M. Ed programme on all strands. We welcome students with the appropriate professional experience from all international settings and on the programme draw on educational policies and research from across the globe.  

Where can I obtain further information if I secure a place on the M. Ed programme?

A handbook for the current academic year and timetables will be available on the TCD School of Education website in September. With regard to registration please contact the Academic Registry ( The fees schedule is available HERE.