Leadership and Management (Top-up) MSc

Turn your practical leadership experience into an academic postgraduate qualification in 1 year, as you explore management topics and target your studies to progress your career.

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Take your practical leadership experience you’ve gained in your career and complete a dissertation on leadership or management to convert your experience into a full Master’s degree. 

Supported by an expert supervisor, you’ll explore management theory and improve the way you lead and inspire others, and graduate with a recognised academic qualification. 

You’ll choose a dissertation topic you’re passionate about and define a suitable research area with your course director. 

As you continue to work alongside your studies, you’ll be able to apply your learning directly in your workplace and develop your research and critical analysis skills. 

This top up Master's course is open to anyone with management and leadership experience, as well as officers of the Armed Forces (based on rank and experience) through Recognition of Prior Learning that has been mapped and accredited against the CMI Diploma Level 7 or an equivalent qualification. The University of Portsmouth is also an Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) approved supplier.


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

Course highlights

  • Complete a dissertation to earn your full MSc degree 
  • Use your expertise (professional experience or military rank) to build knowledge on leadership and management
  • Investigate a management topic you’re passionate about
  • Apply your learning in the workplace 
  • Get support from expert lecturers and academics

Coming from a military background, I wanted to capitalise on my collective leadership experience by obtaining an associated academic qualification. Undertaking the course as a mature student was a little daunting at first, but the introductory workshop instilled confidence by providing clarity about the stages of this journey.

WO1 Craig McMillan, Warrant Officer Class 1, Mountain Leader, Royal Marines



Accredited by: 

The University of Portsmouth has earned business accreditation from the AACSB in recognition of the outstanding quality of its business and management education. Less than six percent of the world's schools offering business degree programs hold AACSB business accreditation.

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions

Entry requirements


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

September 2024 / January 2025 start

There are 4 recognised routes of entry: 

  • The award of the CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Leadership & Management obtained within the last 5 years and a minimum of 3 years appropriate management experience.
  • Military applicants may apply on the basis of Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) via either their Rank or the award of ICSC and a minimum of 2 years work experience at a leadership level. 
  • Police applicants may apply on the basis of Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) following successful completion of the College of Policing Senior Leadership Development Programme (June 2018 or later) and a minimum of 2 years work experience at Chief Inspector level or equivalent.
  • Via a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) portfolio where the applicant can demonstrate they meet the Learning Outcomes of a number of prior units. 

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2024 / January 2025 start)

  • Part time: £4,000 per year

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Part time: £4,000 per year

  • Part time: £5,970 per year

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Female Master's student
Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

Explore funding

Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees, so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: Such as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.


What you'll study

On this MSc Leadership and Management (Top-up) Master's, you'll attend an in-person 4-day induction and research methods workshop on campus. You'll then complete a research proposal and gain ethical approval to conduct your research, which will form the basis of your thesis with support from an academic tutor.  Some employers, for example the Armed Forces and the NHS, have their own ethical approval processes that you will need to obtain approval from in addition to the University's requirements.

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to: 

  • Critically evaluate published and unpublished research reports taking into account the characteristics and implications of cross-disciplinary research, highlighting strengths and opportunities for improvement 

  • Explain the major aspects of data collection methods and justify their use in a specific research context

  • Use and interpret qualitative and quantitative research concepts and methods

  • Research, design, execute and report the leadership of a change in an organisation to an appropriate standard for a Master's degree. Students will plan and carry out a rigorous and practical research project that demonstrates the:
    • specific aims to investigation concerning problems involving leadership
    • development in leadership competence
    • awareness and understanding of the literature and latest developments in organisational leadership
    • ability to review, critically assess and draw upon previous literature and research
    • gathering and analysis of empirical data
    • in-depth understanding and original thinking in a particular aspect of organisational leadership
    • sustained intellectual effort to perform analysis, make decisions and plan both critically and objectively
    • competence in the presentation of coherent arguments and assessment of needs and consequences
    • suggest results, conclusions and recommendations that are supported by appropriate evidence and arguments

Explore this module

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry.


Business and management studies at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 2nd of the modern universities by research power.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our business and management research


How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 12 months part-time, starting in either September or January 

You can expect:

  • to attend induction events on campus during the first week of term
  • to study via distance learning after induction
  • to complete self directed study in your own time
  • online monthly drop in sessions with tutors

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.


You'll be assessed through:

  • a research proposal (2,000 word count)
  • dissertation project (10,000 word count)

University staff

You'll be supported by our supervisory team. 

Natasha Gjorevska Portrait

Dr Natasha Gjorevska

Senior Lecturer


School of Organisations, Systems, and People

Faculty of Business and Law

PhD Supervisor

Read more
As someone new to academia, I had little to base my expectations on. The course was indeed challenging; however, my supervisor was available throughout and his support was instrumental to my success. The weekly group meetings provided an ideal sounding board to gain insights from my fellow students.

Bruce Cooper, Head of Compliance, National Police Air Service

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. 

January start

This MSc Leadership and Management (Top-Up) degree runs for 12 months from January.  There are breaks at Christmas, Easter and in the summer.

See key dates

Career development

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

You’ll graduate as an expert in leadership with a postgraduate qualification to showcase your skills. Holding a recognised MSc certificate will help you appeal to employers and evidence your experience, both in civilian life and during your time in service.

During your degree, you’ll network with lecturers and fellow students which will support your career development.

9 reasons to do a Master's

The course has furnished me with the ability to approach, research and resolve organisational challenges in a systematic way.

Captain Simon Roles, Commando Training Centre, Royal Marines

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from our Careers and Employability Centre, your tutors and our Business and Law Career-Ready Programme. This support will continue for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Regular emails from the Career Ready Programme sharing job opportunities, application tips and events
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • 1-to-1 appointments 
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Support starting your own business
Learn more about your career support

Supporting you

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you'll also have access to our student engagement officers. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing, and refer you to specialist support services if you need extra help or support.

You'll have help from a team of study support tutors. Based within the Faculty of Business and Law, these tutors are familiar with the specific requirements your assignments and work closely with faculty academics. This means they can give you focused support with the specific study skills you need to be successful on your course. They're available face-to-face, by phone, email, and by video call.

They can help with:

  • Academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations, projects and literature reviews)
  • Reflective writing skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • Understanding and using assignment feedback
  • Managing your time and workload
  • Revision and exam techniques

If you're a mature student, specialist support to help you return to learning is available.

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University's library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from librarians who specialise in business and law.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

After leaving college as a young adult, I progressed directly into employment, and for many years my long-held ambition to study at university seemed impossible. The challenge was daunting, but the access to almost unlimited resources, and the amount of support provided throughout was outstanding. I will treasure the memories for the rest of my life.

Martin Moizer, Chief Inspector, West Yorkshire Police

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Personal statement

You'll submit a personal statement when you apply. Your personal statement should include:

  • your reasons for applying
  • an overview of your experience and qualifications; for military staff please include your rank and qualification
  • details of your initial research idea – what do you plan to research with supporting references, and/or specific theories/work you have in mind 

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Part-time) – 1 year

Start this course in January 2025

Apply now (Part-time) – 1 year

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.