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PGCert MBA Essentials

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    Key information

    Mode of delivery
    Start date
    Open enrolment


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    The online MBA Essentials programme is purposefully designed to help you develop the key business, management and leadership skills needed to excel in an ever-changing world and workplace. It's ideal for career starters looking to stand out in the job market, mid-level managers looking to step up to more senior positions, and experienced professionals wanting to excel in their current roles.

    Comprised of three key courses from Edinburgh Business School's renowned and reputable MBA, this programme is designed to equip you with the core competencies to confidently lead people, teams and projects. The programme combines contemporary management theory and leading research with applied learning and practical exercises to ensure you get an academically rigorous and career-focused education.

    Over the course of the programme, you'll be prompted to think more critically about organisational structure, team and individual dynamics, management practices, project management, and leadership. You'll benefit from sharing ideas and experiences with a global network of peers and course mentors as you work your way through a variety of engaging course materials. You'll be empowered to make an impact with skills you can apply immediately in your current role, while also taking strides towards achieving a full MBA.

    The flexible programme format allows you to study at your own pace, on your own schedule, making it a perfect fit for working professionals. Take advantage of accessible, flexible learning, designed for professionals like you, and continue to build the transformative skills you need to advance your career.

    How you'll learn

    We are dedicated to your success. Wherever you're studying from, you'll have access to collaborative discussion forums where you can engage with your fellow students around the world. With guidance from your experienced tutors, you will critically engage with your course materials and discuss how they apply to real-world business challenges.

    You will have access to a virtual learning environment (VLE) that will house all your course content and act as your online campus. Tools to track your progress through the course materials will help keep you on track with your learning. Other online resources such as tests and practice essays are available in your virtual learning environment.

    The university provides a range of valuable resources to support you in your academic journey. This includes our study skills support, which aims to enhance your learning strategies and techniques. Whether it's time management, note-taking, or exam preparation, we offer workshops, tutorials, and online materials to help you develop effective study habits.

    We are committed to providing an extensive range of resources that will empower you to reach your goals.

    Live online tuition

    Want to enhance your learning? You can choose to supplement your independent learning by enrolling in live online sessions led by experienced tutors. These sessions help you further contextualise your learning, prepare for your final assessment, and ensure your success on the programme. Online support is also available through our very popular Facebook community.

    Build towards a full MBA

    By successfully completing MBA Essentials, you'll earn 60 credits that can be applied towards pursuing a full MBA with Edinburgh Business School. This means that you would already be one-third of the way to earning your MBA, giving you a head start and saving you time and money.

    Read more about our online MBA.

    Not sure yet? No problem. The MBA Essentials is perfect for those who are interested in building MBA-based skills but are not yet ready to undertake a full MBA. Upon completion of the programme, you will be eligible to receive your Postgraduate Certificate which will act as verification of the skills you've built and communicate your professional value to current and future employers. You can always decide to further your studies at a later point, if you choose – simply enrol in your next courses when you're ready and continue your MBA journey.

    Course content

    Year 1

    The MBA Essentials programme empowers you to elevate your strategic thinking, make more informed business decisions, exercise influential leadership, and successfully plan and deliver projects.

    The programme comprises of 3 mandatory courses, available to take in any order. You can choose to take your courses one-by-one, or at the same time. Each course is worth 20 credits and we advise dedicating around 200 hours of study to successfully complete each course. Most learners will choose to complete this programme in a year or less, however, you can complete the programme along any timeline that suits you.

    Programme Structure

    People, Work and Organisations:

    • Gain an understanding of the factors influencing how people behave at work and how these link to performance.

    Leadership Theory and Practice:

    • Explore key developments in leadership theories and how they apply to modern organisations.

    Delivering Successful Projects:

    • Understand, analyse and learn to apply project management skills to address issues and conflicts, enable change and drive innovation.

    Download the prospectus for a full curriculum outline.

    Programme Outcomes

    MBA Essentials allows you to upskill while you work, giving you the tools you need to advance your career in a faster, more flexible way.

    You'll walk away with:

    • the ability to make better, more informed decisions in business and beyond.
    • critical thinking skills and strategic capabilities that set you apart.
    • a leadership toolkit you can apply in a range of diverse settings and contexts.
    • an understanding of how to drive individual, team and organisational performance.
    • the ability to plan and deliver projects to time, requirements and budget.
    • a postgraduate certificate that you can use to pursue further study or build your CV.
    Professor Heather McGregor
    "When joining Edinburgh Business School, you join a network of industry professionals, top academics and people driven to succeed. We are here to prepare you to enter competitive job markets, excel professionally or even start a new business."
    Professor Heather McGregor,
    Provost and Vice Principal, Heriot-Watt University Dubai

    Fees and funding

    Tuition fees

    Additional fee information

    The programme consists of three courses. Fees are available to pay up front, or on a course-by-course basis.

    Standard fee

    Per course: £1,248

    Full programme (3 courses): £3,744

    Emerging Economies fee*

    Per course: £848

    Full programme (3 courses): £2,544

    All course fees include one assessment attempt. Each attempt after this point will be charged at £160.

    If you want to enrol in live tuition for any or all of course courses, you can opt to at an additional charge. For more information, download the programme prospectus.

    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

    Edinburgh Business School is committed to ensuring our courses and programmes remain accessible to students no matter where they live. Therefore, we offer an *Emerging Economies Scholarship in certain areas. To check if you are eligible, visit the Heriot-Watt Online fees page.

    To read about other scholarships that may be available to read, visit the postgraduate scholarships page.

    20% Fee Reduction

    Students on our online Edinburgh Business School programmes benefit from a 20% fee reduction when purchasing all courses upfront for their programme of choice.

    Take advantage and enrol today.

    Alumni Discount

    If you are a Heriot-Watt alumnus, you qualify for 20% off your programme fees. For more information on how to claim for your alumni discount contact hwonlineapps@hw.ac.uk

    Entry requirements

    We are proud to make access to transformative education available to all. Therefore, we've made this programme open and available to you, regardless of your educational background, professional experience or location.

    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.

    English language requirements

    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.

    Additional information

    Recognition of Prior Experience

    Edinburgh Business School recognises that some students entering our online programmes will have completed prior academic study in subjects that closely align with this programme. Therefore, you may be eligible to be granted exemption for a maximum of 20 credits.

    There's more information on a FAQs.

    Assessment and Award

    All courses are assessed by a Final Online Assessment. Your final course assessment is designed to help you to critically apply what you've learnt.

    You are given a 24-hour window to complete the assessment. You are able to sit your assessment in the comfort of your own space, from wherever you are in the world and will be allowed to access to your course materials during the assessment.

    Assessments are conducted at three points in the year: April-May, August, December.

    Upon successful completion of all three courses and the final online assessments, you will be eligible to receive a Postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration.


    Heriot-Watt University has a reputation for producing high calibre, employable students. Whether you're an early career professional looking to stand out in the job market or an established professional aiming for leadership roles, the MBA Essentials Programme offers you the opportunity to learn, grow, and lead.

    The online, flexible format of the programme allows you to learn while you work. This means that you can apply your learning immediately in your current job, providing real-time value to your employer. If you're just starting your career, it means you can build your work experience while you study. You will also get access to The Careers and Graduate Futures Service to support your career planning.

    With core MBA competencies, you can grow your own business as an entrepreneur or choose from multiple career paths across a range of industries, including roles in consulting, product management, operations, logistics, finance, human resources, change management, business analysis.

    "As a significant leader in employability, Heriot-Watt produces high-calibre students who are fully equipped for future success.”
    Tom Kneen, CTO Office, Cisco UKI

    If you are an employer looking to develop the academic and professional skills of your staff, please contact our B2B team who can help with a range of development opportunities b2b@hw.ac.uk.


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