Master of Leadership for Development

What will I study?


What will I study?

In the Master of Leadership for Development you will learn how to effectively facilitate change in the contemporary global development landscape.

Taught from a global, future-focused perspective, you will explore key development theories, contemporary global issues in development, fundamental principles of leadership and the nuances of leading in development, the complexities of institutional structures and how to implement change within an organisational context.

With a focus on highly applicable skills and knowledge, you will also learn through interactive, state-of-the-art simulations that allow you to experience and practice real-world scenarios.

You will:

  • Adopt a new approach to leadership, with sustainability and collaboration at its core.
  • Learn to effectively navigate complex circumstances and challenges in contemporary development.
  • Build skills for effective negotiation, diplomacy and cross-cultural communication.
  • Champion positive, proactive and improved social transformation in a global context.

Upon completion of the program you will:

  • Possess an in-depth understanding or your personal leadership styles, strengths and limitations and have the competencies to effectively participate in leadership from that unique and individual SHAPE (Skills, Habits, Abilities, Personality, Experience)
  • Have the skills to more accurately assess and interpret the leadership requirements for common scenarios encountered in development practice
  • Possess a range of competencies to more efficiently and effectively respond to leadership challenges in the development sector
  • Be able to make an effective contribution to processes of organisational change relevant to the global development sector
  • Possess strategic and cross-cultural leadership and management skills, analytical competencies and knowledge to enable one to effectively engage with and lead development initiatives at a trans-local and global level
  • Have developed the competencies and habits to critically reflect on your own leadership practice and assume responsibility for life-long leadership development.

Course structure

To gain the Master of Leadership for Development you must complete 112.5 points comprising of:

  • Six core subjects
  • One capstone project

You will complete four units in year one, followed by two units and a research project in year two. You’ll learn through a mix of interactive teaching and have plenty of opportunities to work collaboratively with your peers.


It is estimated that you will be need to allocate 15 hours per week for study time.

"This innovative, first-of-its-kind course will play a significant role in developing future leaders to make a real impact. It has the potential to be far-reaching, and I hope may even lead to potential Nobel Peace Prize winners in the future."

– Dr Jaco Renken, Course Co-Director.

Explore this course

Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this degree.

Subject code Subject nameDescription


Contemporary Development

Successfully leading development in the twenty-first century necessitates an appreciation of a changing global landscape characterised by shifts in power whereby the Global South has made notable strides towards greater autonomy with respect to shaping its own development paths and objectives. The prevailing development challenges of gender, poverty and inequality, global trade, the environment, urbanisation, participation, modernisation, technology, and conflict have assumed new, often quite pragmatic, dimensions. These factors are now being approached from multiple, and non-Western, development perspectives as South-South development assistance begins to take hold and where previous paradigms of development are being contested and discredited. However, alongside the argument for a non-Eurocentric ‘post-aid’ world, grand visions of development continue in the form of the SDGs and Agenda 2030, alongside significant, if falling, quantities of ODA. These elements, through a blend of theory and practice, form the basis of this subject’s content.


Contemporary Leadership

This subject examines fundamental principles of leadership and the foundations needed to exercise influence. You will explore key leadership approaches from various disciplines relevant to development and consider your own leadership style and experiences. You will understand different styles and models of leadership, the distinction between role of manager and leader, connection between leadership and political and organisational governance, issues of power, dependencies, and accountability and responsibility.


Leading Development

Building on your acquired knowledge of leadership and development, this subject examines the distinct challenges of leadership within the development sector. Via real-world case studies, you will examine the complexities of leading within a changing global context, the implications of the post-heroic perspective and the relationship between ethics, social responsibility and leadership in the development context.


Organisation Development and Change

Throughout this subject, you will gain an understanding of the organisational context where development leaders implement change initiatives. Theoretical foundations draw from applied behavioural sciences and cover interpersonal, group, inter-group, and organisation-wide interventions to effect comprehensive and lasting change. You will examine innovative strategies for training and devoloping leaders, as well as planning and implementing succession in global development sector organisations. Blending theory and practice, you will work in teams to analyse real-world organisational change scenarios and leadership challenges.


International Management and Leadership

The module examines processes of internationalisation in private sector, public sector, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organizations, examining the challenges and opportunities for addressing a range of global socio-economic development issues in relation to stakeholder impacts. You will examine global trends including the formation of public/INGO private partnerships, corporate social entrepreneurship, new forms of business models, value chain arrangements and open innovation.


Leadership Skills In Action

Throughout practical, adaptive online simulations, you will have the opportunity to apply your management and leadership skills and work collaboratively to resolve complex challenges and conflicts. Within the context of simulated scenarios, you will build on your reflexive decision-making abilities and demonstrate the capacity to exercise sound judgment under pressure and lead with confidence, while working as part of a team.


Leadership for Development Capstone

The capstone component requires a student to conduct a significant leadership for development research‐based activity that draws on knowledge, attitudes and competencies acquired during the taught component of the program. Two options will be available:

Option 1: A Group Project ‐ Students will, as part of a small group (typically, 6‐8 students), identify a wicked problem in development and conceptualise, design and develop an appropriate leadership response to solve that problem. Assessment will include a peer‐review component.

Option 2: An Individual Dissertation ‐ Students will identify, conceptualise, design, and conduct a small research project and report it as a dissertation. Dissertation research is an individual project aimed at delivering an impactful contribution on a topic related to leadership for development