Independent Study Module

Independent Study Module [ISM] Leadership

Accreditation Option - NPQH, NPQSL & NPQML

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Click here for details of the full MA Leadership Programme

Contact us:


Administrator: Alison Slade,

Module Leader: Domini Bingham,

The NCTL’s Leadership Curriculum programmes can be used to gain 30 CATS points towards an MA here at the IOE. (Those on NPQH should note that you can get 30 points automatically by being successful at final assessment and being awarded NPQH, and the notes here refer to an additional 30 points that you can obtain by doing this ISM accreditation.)

These points can be achieved by registering for the ISM and completing an additional assignment which will require the payment of a ‘top up fee’ of £650. If you would like to take up this option you will need to apply through UK PASS and attend an Induction at IOE.


What is it?

The Independent Study Module (ISM) Leadership is a self-directed study module which can be taken at two specified points in the academic year (September and January). It provides an opportunity to gain Masters level accreditation of 30 credits for your learning and the development of your leadership skills while undertaking a leadership development programme with IOE or through another situation.


The ISM-L is part of the MA Leadership. Although a free-standing module, the 30 credits obtained will contribute towards one of our Masters degrees in Leadership, for example, the MA Leadership or MBA Educational Leadership (International) for those who have undertaken NPQH. To gain a full Masters degree, you will need to accrue a total of 180 credits

NB – Although the module itself is accredited towards the MA Leadership, it can be used towards the majority of MAs at the IOE.


The Independent Study Module is designed to provide you with the opportunity to:

  • reflect on your experiences on the leadership curriculum programmes or other situations;
  • deepen your learning through further reading; and
  • make both personal and organisational recommendations for how leadership leads to institutional improvement within a changing educational policy context.


Module Assessment

The award–bearing assessment for the Leadership (ISM) requires a 5000 word submission which is divided into two parts:

  • 1500 words reflection (Part A)
  • 3500 word analysis of an aspect or aspects of leadership explored during the programme (Part B)

Part A (1500 words) - Your learning about leadership

Part B (3500 words) - Connecting your learning to wider reading

  • A critical reflection on your learning throughout the leadership programme.
  • What this means for your leadership in the context of your school.
  • The impact on your own development as a leader.

This will be shown through a reflective commentary on how you’ve applied your learning about leadership

  • An analysis of how your leadership practice has developed.
  • The impact you’ve had on colleagues / your team / learners and your evidence for this.
  • Linking your learning on the programme to key readings about leadership, for example, theories of leadership, leading learning, leading change, leading people.
  • A critical evaluation of the relationship between your school context and what research tells you about effective leadership.

It is important that all coursework reflects the following outcomes:

  • Broadening and deepening professional and leadership knowledge of organisation-level leadership practice.
  • Deepening understanding of student learning within the context of their school and its setting.
  • Leading the learning of others, including pupils, colleagues and key stakeholders in the wider community.
  • Critically analysing organisation-level leadership practice by reflection, observation and self-evaluation.
  • Critical scholarship by engaging and critically reviewing academic literature on leadership and management as well as education policy.
  • Developing professional learning through collaborative dialogue with peers.

The grade-related criteria for this programme appear at the end of this section.


Enrolment Process

To enrol for the Independent Study Module (Leadership Development) you need to apply through UKPASS.

  • Link to enrol: UKPASS Link and this will take you to info called “Special Course Masters Level - Freestanding Module” and hit the “Apply online” button on bottom of the page
  • Registration: You will be asked to register on UKPASS (if not already registered)
  • Course: P041002- Special Course Masters Level - Freestanding Module 
  • Attendance/Qualification duration: PT-Other Taught Award-1-12
  • Fee: It may say it is £0 but you will be charged £650 as a top-up fee by IOE
  • You will see a summary of the application process. Once you have finished a section, simply tick 'section completed' at the bottom of the page. The system will tell you if there is any missing information you need to complete. The help text can be accessed by clicking the blue ? next to the section heading.
  • Personal Details (complete in full)
  • Further details (complete in full)
  • Course details: (this will be pre-populated with your course choice, you should complete the other questions in full)
  • School / High School Details (complete as far as possible)
  • University / College Details (complete as far as possible)
  • English proficiency (only complete if you are a non-native English speaker)
  • Supplementary Information (complete as far as possible)
  • Personal  Statement (We require a brief statement (50 words or less) which should address why you wish to undertake this course at the IOE)
  • Reference 1: You should indicate a recent employer or tutor, giving their name, relationship to you and address. You should tick the 'sent under separate cover' option. We do not require you to provide this reference to us directly.
  • Reference 2: You should state the name of the IOE course leader teaching your module. You should state that the reference is 'sent under separate cover'. We do not require you to provide this reference.
  • Once all sections of the application are complete Click submit. You will receive an email confirming successful receipt of your application to UKPASS.
  • Any Questions? We find that most problems are easily rectified by checking the help text, and responding to any error messages. If you require further help, UKPASS operate an advice line for applicants, details below:

UKPASS Customer Service Unit: (0)871 334 4447, Monday to Friday, 08:30-18:00 (UK time). Alternatively, please email for an automated response with general information and guidance on the UKPASS procedures.

  • Once you have made your application via UKPASS, it will be considered by IOE and if the course tutor accepts you onto the module, you will receive an offer letter from IOE Student Services (Registry).
  • You should then attend the Induction session at IOE on Saturday 6th December from 10am to 1pm – more information will be sent later.


Course dates

All work must be uploaded to the IOE virtual learning environment (Moodle) by the relevant deadline. Summative work must also be submitted through Moodle. You will receive instructions on how to do this later, and please note that this is a different Moodle site to the one used on the NPQH/NPQSL/NPQML programmes.

In addition, two hard printed copies of the final submission should be sent to the course administrator Alison Slade by the deadlines in the table above. Details of how to do this will be sent nearer the term.


Support on the module

This is a self-directed study module. Support will be provided through:

  • Introductory session (Induction) about working at Masters level at start of module – either face to face at the IOE or online through Moodle.
  • Access to IOE library and its extensive range of books and articles
  • Ongoing self-facilitated online small group discussions through Moodle.
  • Access to tutor support by module leader or other module facilitators to support your reflection and evaluation of your learning and in critically reviewing literature with a possible further face to face group session if required.
  • A suggested reading list
  • Formative feedback


Additional guidance and support will be provided and online support resources will guide you in conducting literature searches, academic writing and writing bibliography. Attendance at any support sessions and engagement with online small group discussion is not compulsory and is not assessed but is encouraged. 

In addition it is expected that you will keep in contact with the Module Leader and Course Administrator and respond to requests from the Programme Manager or Programme Administrator as appropriate.

The course administrator is Alison Slade ( Tel: 020 7612 6740

Guidance on Presentation

Guidance on Content/Style

All written work should be word processed.

It is often helpful to use sub-headings to indicate your structure.

References in the text should appear with the name of the author and the year of publication in brackets e.g. (Glaser, 1990)

Quotations should be in italics and in speech marks followed by the author, the year of publication and the page reference. e.g. “Once the initiation phase of leadership is over, leaders pass into a developmental period.” (Brighouse, 2002, p230)

If a second quotation follows, without an intervening quotation from another writer, it is in order to put (ibid p234) where ibid refers to the same writer and work as before.

Reference quotations from chapters in edited books and journal articles in the same way (e.g. Barnard N, 2004, “The Usual Suspects” in LDR, 13 p24)

Reference from a website (e.g. Managing Finance, Learn to Lead) should appear as: with the date accessed.

It is wise to avoid footnotes.

All assignments should have a bibliography at the end. This should have a list of all works read or referred to in the submission. It should be set out as the reading list i.e. Author’s name, initial, year of publication, title, place of publication, publisher.

Do keep to the number of words. Quantity is not an indication of quality.

You must link whatever you are writing about (your reflective work) to the theories and ideas of writers working in this area. The attached reading list will help you.

  • Do not just describe the theories but show you understand them in and through practice.
  • Be self-critical and self-congratulatory. (What went well; even better if…)
  • Do use your reflective journal
  • Do use the reading list
  • Also read the guidance in the front of your participant’s handbook.

Negotiating the Assignment

Your assignment will be negotiated with the ISM programme leader to ensure it meets M level assessment criteria. Guidance on preparing and submitting your assignment for assessment will be provided by your tutor and placed on our VLE.

Draft assignments 

Formative feedback, on participants’ critical engagement with academic literature will be provided by the module leader or module facilitators when reviewing participants’ draft outline assignments.   Drafts can be submitted up to 5,000 words. However, if you prefer, you may also submit an outline of 2 pages or 4 pages.

We have also provided you with a reading list (see below).


M Level Grade Related Criteria is shown below







[] Outstanding grasp, high level of critical insight

[] Clear understanding, good level of insight

[] Basic understanding and insight

[] Inadequate understanding and insight

[] Extensive, insightful critical review of literature

[] Wide-ranging, coherent and critical review of literature

[] Basic critical competence in reviewing literature

[] Unfocused or inaccurate review of literature

[] High creativity and independence of thought

[] Elements of creativity and independence of thought

[] Little development of ideas

[] Confusion in application of knowledge


[] Sophisticated understanding, high level of critical evaluation of scholarship, research and methodologies

[] Consistent and fluent understanding and critical evaluation of scholarship, research and methodologies

[] Adequate understanding and evaluation of scholarship, research and methodologies

[] Lack of understanding and evaluation of scholarship, research and methodologies

[] Outstanding understanding of how research and enquiry create and interpret knowledge and how these apply to students’ own research/practice

[] Thorough understanding of how research and enquiry create and interpret knowledge and how these apply to students’ own research/practice

[] Basic understanding of how research and enquiry create and interpret knowledge and how these apply to students’ own research/practice

[] Lack of understanding of how research and enquiry create and interpret knowledge and how these apply to students’ own research/practice

[] Creative and critical handling, presenting and inferring from data

[] Competent and critical handling, presenting and inferring from data

[] Rudimentary handling, presenting and inferring from data

[] Inadequate or confused handling, presenting and inferring from data


[] Exceptional clarity, focus and cogency

[] Clarity, focus and fluency

[] Basic clarity, focus and competence

[] Poorly organised and unfocused



1st markers will provide comments on the assessment sheet and complete the mark grid (above)


2nd markers may wish to make a few notes as well as completing the grid. This will help if grades need to be reconciled.


Suggested grade:

Initials of marker:


Indicative reading list for M Level

Participants will be directed to look at recent research, book titles and professional journals.  Your Module Leader / Course Tutor will suggest further titles for you, but M level students are expected to develop their skills in reviewing and critically analysing the literature.

Guidance on education leadership and management theory and education policy:

Guidance on professional reflection:

Ainscow, M. and West, M. (2006) Improving Urban Schools: Leadership and Collaboration Berkshire: OUP

Ball, S. (2008) The Education Debate: Policy and Politics in the Twenty-First Century Bristol: The Policy Press

Bubb, S and Earley, P. (2004) Managing Teacher Workload: Work-life Balance and Wellbeing, London: Sage.

Bush, T. Bell, L & Middlewood, D (eds) (2010) The Principles of Educational Leadership & Management London: Sage

Chapman, C., and Gunter, H. (2008) Radical Reforms: A Decade of Educational Change.  London: Routledge.

Coleman, M and Earley, P (eds) (2005) Leadership and Management of Education: Cultures, change and context  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Coleman, M & Glover, D (2010) Educational Leadership & Management: Developing Insights & Skills London: Sage.

Davies, B (ed) (2009) Essentials of School Leadership (2nd edition) London: Sage.

Dawe, M. (ed) (2012) School Leaders Toolkit, Sage

Earley, P. and Weindling, D. (2004) Understanding School Leadership, London: PCP/Sage

Fullan, M. (2007) Leading in a culture of change, Jossey Bass

Fullan, M. (2008) The Six Secrets of Change, Wiley

Harris, A. (2008) Distributed Leadership in Schools London: Routledge.

Jones, J. (2005) Developing Management Skills in Schools London: Sage

Lingard, B. and Ozga, J. (Eds) (2006) The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Education Policy and Politics  RoutledgeFalmer: London

Matthews, P. (2009) Leading the Learning, Notts: NCSL.

Pratt-Adams, S., Maquire,M. and Burn, E. (2010) Changing Urban Education London: Coninuum

Robinson, J and Timperley, H (eds) (2011) Leadership and Learning, London: Sage.

Ryan, W. (2008) Leadership with a moral purpose, Crown House

Ryan, W. (2011) Inspirational teachers, inspirational learners, Crown House

Scott, D (2000) Reading Educational Research and Policy London: Routledge

Ward, S. and Eden, C. (2009) Key Issues in Education Policy London: Sage

Whitty, G. (2002) Making Sense of Education Policy London: Sage

Bassey, M. (1998) Fuzzy generalisation and professional discourse Research Intelligence No 63 (February), pp. 20-24

CAPLITS (2008) Student Writing Guide: Academic Writing in Educational Settings London: IOE

Covey, S. (2004) The Seven habits of highly effective people; Simon & Schuster

Department for Education  New Teaching Standards

Department for Education and Skills (2001) Helping you develop: guidance on producing a professional development record London: HMSO

Field, K (2002) Portfolio of Professional Development: Structuring and Recording Teachers' Career Progress London: Optimus with Canterbury Christ Church University College

Forde, C, McMahon, M and Reeves, J (2009) Putting Together Professional Portfolios, London: Sage.

Furlong, J., Barton, L., Miles, S., Whiting, C. & Whitty, G. (2000) Teacher Education in Transition re-forming professionalism? Buckingham: Open University Press

Heilbronn, R. 'National Teacher Research Panel: Teaching as evidence based practice' Prospero 6:3-4.

Jackson, D. (2002) ‘Building schools’ capacity as learning communities’ in

Professional Development Today 5.3 17-24

Jones, C. (2002) Professional Development Portfolio Evidence at Masters' Level: Escalate

Klenowski, V. (2002) Developing Portfolios for Learning and Assessment:        Processes and Principles London: Routledge Falmer

Moon, J. (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning London: Routledge Falmer

Pollard, A. (2002) Readings for Reflective Teaching London: Continuum

Scott, D. (2000) Reading Educational Research and Policy London: Routledge Falmer


Last modified: Wednesday, 18 April 2018, 10:56 AM