MSc Digital Leadership

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    Key information

    Mode of delivery
    Start date
    Open enrolment
    2.5 years
    Degree Qualification


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    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 degree 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 degree 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 degree 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.

    Degree 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 degree?

    Our online degrees 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 degree 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.

    Digital Leadership

    Course content

    Year 1

    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 degree 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.

    Degree structure


    • Digital Business Strategy: Platforms and Ecosystems
    • Digital Leadership
    • Strategic Change
    • Research Philosophy and Practice
    • Big Data Analytics
    • Business Analytics and Introduction to Big Data
    • Digital Marketing Analytics
    • People Analytics

    Detailed degree guide

    Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills

    Understanding is developed through engagement with topics at theoretical and practical levels, with specialist subject knowledge pursued within each course and through the dissertation. Students will be able to:

    • Define and explain key terms and parameters within the discipline.
    • Demonstrate a critical understanding of theories and models supporting our understanding of strategy, leadership, and change in the context of the digital economy
    • Develop a critical appreciation of the challenges and opportunities platform strategies and evaluate their application is a variety of business contexts.
    • Critically evaluate the role of digital transformation in a business context including how policies, programmes, strategies, and resources are selected and implemented.
    • Critically analyse and evaluate the impact of digital transformation and transformational technologies on organizational sustainability in the context of today’s global digital economy.

    Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research Informed Learning)

    Students will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an awareness of and interest in current developments in the field of digital business and digital transformation
    • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the key concepts models and tools that guide the creation and implementation of digital business strategies and digital transformation initiatives
    • Apply knowledge of digital business to the resolution of practical business problems, simulations and case scenarios in systematic and creative ways.
    • Generate and evaluate alternative strategies, change management programmes and leadership styles to accomplish digital transformation in business
    • Research in-depth and evaluate the contributions of academic writers in the field of digital business strategy and digital transformation in different organizational contexts.
    • Plan and execute a significant project of research, development or investigation
    • Prepare and construct essays, reports and other outputs of personal research, which demonstrate originality and creativity in the application of knowledge to professional practice in the field
    • Use a wide range of standard techniques and some specialist quantitative and/or qualitative research instruments in pursuing research-led inquiry; e.g. in the preparation of coursework for the Research Philosophy and Practice course, and in the course of the dissertation.
    • Source and utilise data from the library, internet and database sources
    • Review, organise, and evaluate evidence and reflect and comment critically on its validity and relevance, synthesize information in the context of new situations.
    • Present a clear and coherent argument on specialized topics

    Approaches to Teaching and Learning

    Edinburgh Business School is committed to enhancing the student experience through its approach to teaching and learning, which is derived from the University’s own Learning and Teaching Strategy.

    Teaching, learning, and assessment methods will ensure that students are given the opportunity to reflect and capitalise on previous/current work experience and given the opportunity to use insights from the programme to modify practice. The programme is designed to develop students’ professional expertise through individual and/or group-based assignment (including live cases and work-based assignments) and through exposure to guest speakers from industry and teaching will comprise a mixture of lectures and seminar activity involving multiple modes of learning (case study, workshops, research papers, electronic formats) with supportive infrastructures (e.g., computer laboratory).

    Approaches to teaching and learning are examined yearly through the course and programme review. These processes are informed by various forms of feedback of which the most important are student feedback, external examiner reports, and evidence of the achievement of learning outcomes from the formative and summative assessment.

    Assessment Policies

    Student assessment will conform to the Ordinances, Regulations, Policies and Procedures of the University and compliance with Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF). These acknowledge:

    • Award of MSc requires 180 SCQF credits; at least 150 of which are at Level 11
    • Award of PG Dip requires 120 SCQF credits; at least 90 of which are at Level 11
    • Award of PG Cert requires 60 SCQF credits; at least 40 of which are at Level 11

    Programme assessment and progression will be under the scrutiny of the Postgraduate Examination Board and external examiners and will be applied in accordance with University policy.

    Results of the assessment will be graded in the range of A-F and communicated in letters/transcripts issued by the University’s Academic Registry.

    A range of assessment types will be employed in the programme. Formative assessment is used in many courses to provide students and staff with feedback on performance and the achievement of learning outcomes. This feedback is used both to inform course and programme development and to enable the adaptation of learning opportunities to meet the needs of individual students and the cohort of learners. Summative assessment for most courses will involve a combination of coursework and examinations. The format of all assessment is determined by its appropriateness for measuring the learning outcomes of courses and is guided by the School’s ‘Learning and Teaching Strategy’.

    Among the forms of assessment used in the programme are essays; written examinations; video and class presentation; written reports, group and/or individual projects; group presentations; and the dissertation.

    Fees and funding

    Tuition fees

    Additional fee information

    The MSc degree comprises of eight courses and a capstone project. Each course is £1,230, and the full programme fee is £9,840. You can study on a course-by-course basis and pay as you learn, or sign up for two or three courses at once.

    For more details on our fees and additional information for emerging economies, please view the fees for this programme.

    Scholarships and bursaries

    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.

    Scholarship funding

    Fully funded scholarships for some of the courses contained within the MSc are available to people living and working in Scotland. Find out more information about the Upskilling Scotland Scholarship.

    Entry requirements

    To be eligible to formally register on the full MSc programme, the examinations in the two entry courses, Digital Business Strategy: Platforms and Ecosystems and Digital Leadership, must be successfully passed.

    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 at university level previously in the English language, must provide evidence of their English language proficiency.

    Rewarding previous study

    Edinburgh Business School recognises that some students entering our online MBA or MSc programmes will have completed prior academic study in subjects that align closely to certain EBS courses.

    The qualification being presented for exemption 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 kept abreast of the current developments in the subject area.

    Exemptions are considered only on the basis of qualifications which have been gained through formal assessment. No consideration will be given for life/work experience.

    Exemptions from mandatory and optional courses may be granted on the basis of master's/postgraduate level qualifications and professional qualifications onlu. Undergraduate level qualifications cannot be considered.

    Exemptions will not be awarded on the basis of courses which have been used towards the award of another degree (of the same discipline) at Master's 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.

    Why Edinburgh Business School?

    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 tutoring and revision

    We offer live tutoring and revision sessions with highly experienced tutors from our global network of teaching partners. You can choose the session which best suits your needs, such as time of day, duration and structure.

    Your career

    Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

    Online events

    We host online events throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to speak to our academic teaching staff, meet students, find out what it is like to study using our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and discover how to enrol.

    Lifelong connections

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

    Study options Edinburgh - Digital Leadership

    Our MSc in Digital Leadership is also available to study at our Edinburgh campus.

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