MSc Digital Leadership

The course

Online learning
Course award
Entry date
Open enrolment

Developed in consultation with industry, the MSc Digital Leadership has been designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the skills to drive data driven digital transformation.



Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University’s online MSc Digital Leadership programme has been developed in consultation with industry to equip a new generation of leaders to drive data driven digital transformation. Addressing the talent needs of the future, the degree has been designed to prepare you for leadership roles in digital transformation. It will provide you with a critical appreciation of the transformative potential of digital technologies in business and the opportunities and the challenges associated with digital transformation in a variety of organisational contexts.

As well as providing insight into the role of transformational technologies such as Big Data, Robotics and AI, the programme will also provide you with an appreciation of how these technologies can be employed successfully through strategic innovation and change to deliver operational efficiencies and enhanced customer value. The programme will consider the role of business model innovation and networked markets in transforming industries and economies as well as: customer centricity and harnessing customer networks, the strategic role of data, leadership, organisational agility and cultural transformation.

Programme duration

It takes approximately 150 study hours per course. On average, it takes four years to complete a full MSc, but it can be completed faster or over a longer period. You can choose your own pace by picking up or setting aside your studies whenever it suits you best. Your schedule always takes priority.

Who should study this programme?

Our online programmes are designed for you to complete a MSc degree. Our students also have the option to study each of our individual course modules in order to upskill or reskill to progress your career, whether this is to fulfil a professional requirement or to specialise in a specific area.

Online learning delivery

Our progressive course materials are made available online through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE links you with our expert academics and course materials through videos, webinars, articles, journals, assessments and discussion boards. With us, it’s completely up to you when and where you sit your exams and you need only pay for one at a time. You can choose when to sit your exams and if you need to rearrange, that’s no problem either. To find out more about the programme structure, resources and support please visit our Online learning delivery and support pages.

Student support

Even the most gifted and most confident of students need a little help from time to time. Whether you study online at home or with a learning partner you’re never far from the support of our faculty and your fellow learners. Additional support is available through optional online tuition and revision sessions and other online resources such as tests, practice essays, collaborative discussion forums where you can engage with your fellow students around the world and tools to help you track your progress through the course materials.

Course content

The MSc Digital Leadership aims to develop a critical understanding of the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation in contemporary business settings, and develop the requisite leadership, management and technical competences to execute digital transformation initiatives in organisations. 

The programme comprises of eight courses. Courses are assessed by a written examination and/or written coursework. On completion of the eight taught courses, students will also undertake a research dissertation or capstone project. Pass these and join our global network of Edinburgh Business School graduates and business professionals.

Mandatory courses

Mandatory course descriptors

Digital Business Strategy: Platforms and Ecosystems

This course develops a critical appreciation of the strategic implications of digital transformation in business, including the potential for digital technologies to disrupt value chains, drive business model innovation and create competitive advantage through operational efficiencies and enhanced customer value. The unique features platform businesses and (and platform-based eco-systems) will be explored and evaluated, along with the challenges associated with developing and executing platform strategies.

Digital Leadership

This course introduces you to the theory and practice of leadership and develops an appreciation of the role and importance of leadership to business transformation, exploring the linkages between effective and appropriate leadership and organisational strategy. It also provides an opportunity to consider appropriate leadership practice in various real-life or simulated contexts.

To find out more information, view the view the Digital Leadership course syllabus.

Strategic Change

This course provides you with knowledge and understanding of organisational change from a strategic perspective, exploring models of strategic change and their application to a variety of organisational settings. It also explores the organisational impact of strategic change and the role of leadership, internal change agents, and external stakeholders.

Research Philosophy and Practice

Designed to provide a foundation for the capstone project or dissertation, this course develops an understanding of the social science research process and provides an understanding of the theory and approaches to research. It also provides an explanation of research design; project planning and writing style with particular reference to the MSc dissertation/Capstone report.

Big Data Analytics

Provides an insight into the use of data analytics within the business context and practical knowledge of systems and tools used for big data analytics. It aims to give students appropriate skills for knowledge discovery, analysis, and assessment of big data and develop quantitative skills in the extraction, analysis, and interpretation of information from big data. An understanding of technologies associated with big data analytics such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things is also provided.

Business Analytics and Introduction to Big Data

Develops an understanding of the different approaches used by managers and management consultants to solve business decision problems and appreciation of the purpose and value of business analytics in management decision making. It also provides a working understanding of the key statistical concepts that underpin aspects of strategic decision sciences and gives students the practical skills to apply a range of analytical techniques used by Business Analysts. An introduction to big data is also provided which provides a foundation for the Big Data Analytics course.

Digital Marketing Analytics

Develops a critical appreciation of the theories, tools, and techniques associated with digital marketing analytics and a working knowledge of the various strategies for increasing website traffic and the ability to assess their advantages and disadvantages in specific contexts. It also develops the ability to critically evaluate and respond to digital marketing analytics outcomes.

People Analytics

Aims to provide insight into the importance of quality data and people analytics in the context of contemporary business technologies. By exploring different approaches to analyse data, students will learn how to analyse, interpret, and report basic data, ultimately reaching a high level of analytical maturity, as based on the Ulrich model. An understanding of Human Capital Analytics/People analytics will show students the significance of sourcing tools, natural language processing, and metrics when dealing with talent acquisition or workforce planning. Lastly, this course will also address the challenges regarding people analytics such as ethics and resistance as well as data management whilst retaining human centricity.


Why Heriot-Watt Online?


Study towards the same high-quality qualification as if you were studying in-person, with no difference in degree certificate or transcript, including an Edinburgh campus graduation ceremony.

Flexibility and affordability

Study at a time and pace that suits you, and even while you work. HW Online offers pay-as-you-study courses and fees inclusive of exams and study materials, meaning you can focus on success, not extra costs.

Online community and help

Studying with us means you join an online community of over X students, allowing you to chat and learn from your fellow students through our virtual learning environment.

Employability and careers

Heriot-Watt produces more CEOs than any other University in Scotland, and 95% of graduates are in employment or further study within 6 months of graduation.

Lifelong connections

Upon completing your studies you will automatically join the UK’s oldest alumni association The Watt Club, with 147k members worldwide.

Track record

We’ve been providing high quality online and distance learning across the world for over 25 years.


Be part of a Business & STEM renowned University with over 200 years of heritage. We’re proud to be ranked #1 by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 for a number of our Engineering subjects, including Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Entry requirements

Typically, you will hold a recognised first or second class honours degree, or equivalent professional qualification. Students whose native language is not English and who have not been educated previously in the English language must provide evidence of their English language proficiency. Alternatively, Heriot-Watt Online students can take exams in two courses of the programmes, Digital Business Strategy: Platforms and Ecosystems and Digital Leadership. Based on the result from these two courses you will continue the programme at MSc level.

Rewarding previous study

If you have gained a qualification in a relevant subject prior to the start of your online Edinburgh Business School programme, we may be able to reward this hard work with an exemption from certain courses. 

These exemptions are only ever at our discretion and are considered on the basis of qualifications gained through formal examination - whether at degree level or through a professional body. The qualification being presented for consideration should have been gained within the last five years. Qualifications gained over five years ago may be considered if additional supporting evidence shows that you have keep abreast of current developments in the subject area through Continuing Professional Development. 

Exemption from core courses may be granted on the basis of bachelor level and professional qualifications. Exemption from core and elective courses may be granted on the basis of postgraduate level qualifications (except fully completed degrees) and professional qualifications.

Exemptions will not be awarded on the basis of courses which have been used towards the award of another degree at Masters level, whether this was awarded by Heriot-Watt University or any other institution. For example, a student who has gained an MSc in Accounting will not be given an exemption in Accounting from Edinburgh Business School’s MBA or MSc degree programmes.

Exemption eligibility

If you would like to enquire about your eligibility, please complete an Exemption Application Form.  


Additional fees information

The MSc degree comprises of eight courses and a capstone project. Each course is £1,340 and the capstone project is £1,480. The full programme fee is £12,200. You can study on a course-by-course basis and pay as you learn, or sign up for two or three courses at once.

Additional scholarship information

Each year Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University makes available a number of scholarships and discounts to help students to achieve one of our awards.

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