Postgraduate study

Leading Major Programmes MSc, PgDip, PgCert

Awards: MSc, PgDip, PgCert

Study modes: Part-time

The MSc in Leading Major Programmes develops leaders who are equipped to deliver large-scale and complex projects and programmes fit for the 21st century, across sectors.

The programme breaks new ground in approaches to leading major programmes by integrating core topics on programme management with emerging and increasingly relevant subjects such as:

  • systems thinking
  • data science for decision making
  • sustainability
  • resilience
  • philosophy

Students will gain the theoretical and practical tools to understand the complexities and interdependencies of large programmes, and to think and act innovatively for effective programme delivery.

It will cover all the basics for programme management and provide fundamental insights into the political and relationship management capabilities that are essential for Chairs, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, client sponsors and supply chain leadership teams to navigate risks in a major programme context.

Uniquely, the programme will also cover topics of contemporary relevance, providing you with knowledge and techniques in:

  • negotiation, to enable you to craft better deals, as well as manage teams and other project relationships more efficiently
  • resilience, to develop personal, collective and project resilience to help cope with uncertainty and change at all these levels
  • philosophy, to realise the value of right types of thinking and thought-ecosystems to successful leadership
  • sustainability and its impact on stakeholder politics/governance, and decision-making
  • data science and AI to enable you to develop effective digital strategies

The programme will best suit mid-career professionals working as:

  • clients
  • project managers
  • engineers
  • delivery agents
  • contractors
  • project reviewers/auditors

The programme will be taught by a mix of academics and practising programme management and business experts with hard-won lessons learned to pass on.

You will be taught through:

  • classroom and studio-based lectures
  • tutorials
  • student-directed learning

Over the first four semesters, 12 courses will be taught through three days’ worth of intensive, cohort-wide sessions (lectures, tutorials, workshops and seminars) complemented with self-learning activities conducted from home. The 12 courses are arranged in 10 blocks of 3 to 5 days that are spread over the four semesters. Six of those blocks are scheduled to take place physically in Edinburgh, and four online.

Assessment is by coursework, and your final dissertation (if studying for the MSc).

Throughout the programme, programme staff will provide support through informal and formal communication channels.

Students can enrol into the programme not just at MSc level, but also at PG Certificate level (with the possibility to then progress to the MSc programme).

International applicants (including EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals)

Applicants who are non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals must seek permission to study in the UK. If you are a national of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland and are not settled as part of the EU Settlement Scheme, you must also seek immigration permission to come to the UK.

It is not possible to study a part-time programme on a Student Route Visa. However, you may be eligible to apply to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor at times when you need to be present in the UK for elements of your programme.

Please contact the Student Immigration Service for further advice on applying for a Standard Visitor visa. All overseas students applying for this programme are strongly advised to seek advice from the Student Immigration Service at the earliest opportunity to discuss eligibility.

Further Information


Both the PG Certificate and MSc programmes are accredited by the Association for Project Management (APM).

This MSc programme comprises:

  • taught courses run over a two-year period
  • followed by a research project and dissertation tailored either to the needs of your corporate sponsor or to your individual interests

You will cover the twelve courses during the first four semesters. During the final two semesters, you will conduct the research project and dissertation. The research project and dissertation will be a major research exercise exploring an aspect of the leadership of major programmes.

The PG Certificate programme comprises 6 out of the 12 courses, and applicants have the flexibility to select any set of 6 courses that best suit their needs and interests.

The courses on the programme include:

  • Data Science for Decision Makers (10 credits)
  • Oversight, Assurance and Stakeholder Management (10 credits)
  • Procurement for Programme Delivery (10 credits)
  • Negotiations (10 credits)
  • Understanding, Sustaining and Enhancing Resilience (10 credits)
  • Accounting, Sustainability and Finance (10 credits)
  • Systems Thinking, Systems Practice (10 credits)
  • Developing Leadership for Major Programmes (10 credits)
  • Design and Performance of Delivery Enterprise (10 credits)
  • Managing Strategic Risk in Major Projects (10 credits)
  • Philosophy and Engineering (10 credits)
  • Research Methods in Programme Management (10 credits)
  • Leading Major Programmes Dissertation (60 credits)

Graduates will be equipped with an evidence-based strategic overview of the proven techniques on how to:

  • organise for success
  • manage for success
  • nurture and develop the personal and collective qualities required to lead successful major programmes

The MSc programme will be beneficial to existing or aspiring major programme leaders in any field where complexity and change need to be managed, including:

  • infrastructure
  • industry (e.g. energy)
  • defence
  • information technology
  • healthcare
  • big science and large scientific infrastructures
  • finance/insurance (in relation to major programmes)
  • organisational change (through programmes)

How you and your employer will benefit

Industry-focused curriculum

The programme will widen your expertise, by equipping you with the knowledge and skills required to manage the ever-more complex and challenging major programmes of today and tomorrow.

The knowledge developed during the programme can be put into practice immediately in your day-to-day role, helping inspire innovation and change more widely in your organisation.

The part-time model of the programme accelerates this process of knowledge transfer with colleagues.

Customisable projects

The programme enables you to complete a number of project assignments tailor-made to your organisation’s interests and needs.

In particular, the dissertation project is designed to be undertaken in direct partnership with your employer, who can help define and develop a research question, and support you to gather the relevant data.

Influenced by the latest theory and practice, the outcomes of this project will become valuable business information for your employer to reflect and act upon.

Developing your network

By studying with first-rate professionals representing various stakeholders from a range of sectors, both nationally and internationally, you will expand your own and your employer’s network of contacts and expertise. At the same time, you will be well-placed to promote your organisation’s expertise and outlook within that new network.

A long-term investment

Participation in this programme is a sustainable investment of mutual benefit to you and your employer. It will help you to build a rewarding and meaningful career with clear long-term progression while enabling your employer to develop in-house talent, skills and expertise aligned with their goals and objectives.

This programme allows for two levels of study:

  • Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert)
  • Master of Science (MSc)

The PG Certificate requires that you pass six 10-credit courses.

The MSc requires that you pass all twelve 10-credit courses and the final research project to be written up as a dissertation.

You can apply at each of the two levels of study (PG Cert and MSc). Extending your studies after completing the PG Cert is allowed, only conditioned by meeting the progression requirements.

Applications at all graduation levels require the submission of the following documents:

  • Academic qualifications (certificates and transcripts)
  • CV
  • Personal statement
  • One reference letter (preferably from your current or latest employer)

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. Applicants will normally be expected to have a minimum of five years' project management experience at middle or senior management level.

If you do not meet the minimum academic requirement, you may still be considered if you have other relevant qualifications or extensive experience; do not hesitate to contact us to check before you apply.

As part of the application process, you must submit a personal statement, CV, and a reference letter. Your personal statement should demonstrate your motivation to study this programme. The reference letter should preferably come from your current or latest employer.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Additional Costs

In addition to tuition fees, you will pay for:

  • travel to and from the University
  • accommodation during your studies
  • any travel potentially involved in completing courses
  • Dissertation Project expenses

Living costs

In terms of living expenses, you do not need to provide evidence of funding. However, you should be aware that, in applying for admission, you will be taking on a major commitment in terms of both time and money.

Tuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Frédéric Bosché
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3565
  • Contact:
  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Before applying, please consider our minimum entry requirements, which include academic qualifications, relevant work experience and English language requirements.

We also recommend that you first contact the Programme Director (using the Enquiry email below) to discuss your interest and the suitability of this programme to your aspirations and situation.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Frédéric Bosché
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3565
  • Contact:
  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB