EdD Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Online)

Do you wish to progress as a manager and leader in primary, secondary or tertiary education? Our online Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdDL) degree focuses on helping you gain high-standard professional, organisational and political skills and knowledge to meet the vast challenges of improving public and private educational environments.

Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Online)

Key information



Mode of Study:

Part-time Distance Learning


5 years


University of Bolton

Start date:


Course Details

The University of Bolton's EdD in Educational Leadership (online) is designed for working professionals who aspire to be educational leaders. If you want to strengthen your skills for leading groups in high-performing teaching and learning organisations and connect relevant research with practice, this part-taught doctoral programme can support your career development.

The Doctor of Education in Leadership differs from the traditional PhD in that it is in two parts. Stage one, the taught element, allows you to complete 'blocks' of online learning, combining rich online media-based interaction and collaborative work, seminars, online taught elements and tutorials with interactive, collaborative coursework. Our expert team will guide you to explore topics such as revisiting learning and teaching, the impact of emerging educational models, transformative learning, managing politics and policy influences, leadership and organisational transformation, and mastering the 'self'. This part of the programme is very well structured and scaffolded so that you make rapid progress and acquire a strong grounding in the field. Significant formative support with analysis and argument development is provided as you move through the programme.

Stage two involves a directed and independent study programme leading to the development and submission of your research proposal, followed by the production and defence of your own critical commentary. Our welcoming team of experienced, professionally and academically qualified staff will help you understand how to align your research topic of interest to other current research in applicable fields and apply it to your own professional practice and context.

  • The EdDL is a high-level, nationally-recognised qualification that has strong higher education kudos and compares exactly to a PhD.
  • Professionals who hold a University of Bolton EdDL take back to their organisation a greater knowledge and a higher understanding of today's diverse educational leadership landscape gained through a research-driven programme.
  • We'll work with you to help mould your EdDL to complement your employment and interests within the research framework.
  • You'll be strongly encouraged to bring your own education leadership-related issues to the table as the basis of your research. The research (thesis) phase requires you to design, implement and disseminate an original research study.
  • This partly taught doctorate offers a more efficient format than the independent research project involved in a traditional PhD.
Key Features
  • Our EdDL emphasises leadership development, oral and written communication, and understanding of contemporary educational assessment and research.
  • You'll examine a specific area of interest in detail via a thesis and be encouraged to develop your research, analytical, conceptual and critical thinking skills to a very high level.
  • Using collaborative learning methods, you'll be encouraged to work with other course members and your tutors as co-developers of knowledge, drawing from work-based experience to share best practice. You'll also have the opportunity to develop a strong working relationship with your fellow students and tutors before you embark on your research phase.
  • The course is designed to fit around your current employment commitments and responsibilities. We offer flexible learning that is accommodating for working professionals.
  • For your thesis, you'll work with a named supervisor, your Director of Studies, who will guide and advise you through the course up to submission and the oral examination.
  • You may have the option to complete your studies within a 3 to 4 years timeframe.
Professional recognition

Successfully completing this doctorate may facilitate your application for Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

  • Normally, you should have a master's degree and at least three years of experience working in education or training.
  • Normally, you'll be required to attend an online interview and/or provide a portfolio of work.
  • Normally, you'll need to provide satisfactory references before enrolment on the course.
  • As this is an online course, you'll need access to a computer with the appropriate software. You'll also need basic IT skills. In particular, you'll need to be able to access and use the University of Bolton's virtual learning environment, Moodle. Please get in touch with the programme leader for details if you are uncertain that you'll be able to meet these requirements.
  • We'll also consider applications where appropriate work experience can be demonstrated in lieu of, or in addition to, the published academic qualifications in line with the University’s Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) procedures.
  • If English isn't your first language, you'll also need IELTS 7.5, with normally no less than 7.0 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.
  • Please note that this course is subject to the University of Bolton's Fitness to Practise procedure.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

The University of Bolton's EdD in Leadership is designed for those currently in, or aspiring to, senior or middle leadership roles and responsibilities in schools, colleges, universities or other professional education and training settings. It's highly relevant for education practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and scholars interested in exploring leaders and leadership in an educational context and developing their critique and analyses of best practices to inform managerial decision-making.

This course is designed for senior educational professionals and leaders working in schools, colleges, and other educational organisations committed to high-quality teaching, learning and leadership. Successfully completing this Doctor of Education course will enhance your professional effectiveness, emphasising leadership, educational reform, and managing change. Holders of this qualification will possess skills in organisation and management and the knowledge and political skills needed to improve public and private educational environments.

What can I do with this qualification?

Possession of an EdD in Educational Leadership will enhance your career opportunities. It can support your progression into senior education leadership and management. This could include senior headships, executive principalships, higher education academic roles, roles managing and leading new academies, and chief executive roles within educational charities.

Alternative career options

Graduates can also use the qualification as a stepping stone into a range of other careers. Some of these roles may require relevant experience and/or postgraduate study. Some of these careers include:

  • Quality inspection
  • Consultancy
  • Local Authority senior management
  • Department for Education senior management
  • Journalism/writing
  • Educational charity work
  • Educational policy
  • Social work
  • Local government
  • Higher education

Course fees

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £4,250 for the academic year 2024/25.

Overseas students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Overseas fee of £7,975 for the academic year 2024/25.

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2023-2024 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for 'Home' fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for 'Home' fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance for EU students web page on www.gov.uk for information.

The fees for a student's course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.


Click here for more information about the scholarships and bursaries available to University of Bolton students.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or admissions@bolton.ac.uk

The University welcomes applications from international students from all over the world. We try to make the application process as simple and as fast as possible for our international applicants.

How you apply is determined by your current location and what you are choosing to study:

  1. Apply direct to the University. Links for the next available intakes of this course are shown below. Please click the link which will direct you to the online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this.
  2. Apply via one of our approved in-country referral partners. A list of our partners may be found on the International pages of this website.
  3. Apply via UCAS for courses starting in September only – visit www.ucas.com.

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email international@bolton.ac.uk

This programme combines a range of online learning approaches enriched by emerging technologies with flexible delivery designed to fit around your demanding personal and professional commitments. We aim to provide a safe but challenging space in a supportive community of peers. Our supervisors, module tutors, guest speakers and moderators are experienced managers and leaders in various educational areas. They are engaged in the drive to raise the quality of provision in all educational sectors.

We favour a style of interaction that places a great deal of emphasis on personal responsibility, self and critical awareness, recognition of the needs of others, and open and honest communication. We'll encourage you to undertake scholarly reflection on and experiment with new concepts and ideas. We'll also guide you in developing your professional understanding of practice and research skills.

We aim to act as facilitators, helping you develop the necessary critical distance from which to review and evaluate research, relevant existing and emerging theories, policies, and best practices. We'll encourage you to examine and challenge your own professional practice and its relationship with theory and trends. We'll also support you in designing and undertaking ethically informed research.

Crucially, your studies will usher you towards the development, production and defence of your thesis – a comprehensive study of your application of knowledge to a professional practice issue or issues with a shared theme. To this end, you'll work with a named supervisor, your Director of Studies, who will guide and advise you from inception through to submission and the oral examination. They will have expertise in your proposed research area, so you can discuss your ideas in tutorial sessions.

Overall, you'll be expected to demonstrate significant independence in your study, taking responsibility for managing your own learning time.


The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • Research Methodologies
  • The Thesis
  • Leadership and Organisational Transformation
  • Leading Curriculum Design, Teaching and Learning
  • Practicum
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 100%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 80%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 20%


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

David Hopkins
Professor, Programme Leader and Admissions Tutor


+44 (0)1204 903356

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton


+44 (0)1204 903903

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We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
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Anderton centre2
QQA Scheme Participant