University College for Interdisciplinary Learning

Leadership in Action (MLP)

Course Unit Code

UCIL20021 (10 Credits)

UCIL20020 (20 Credits) two semesters long

Course Unit Details

  • Level 2
  • 10 and 20 credits
  • Division of Teaching, Learning & Student Development


The Leadership in Action (LIA) units aim to help you understand what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. The units explore complex current problems and ask: How does change happen? Who makes it happen? What does that tell us about leadership and how we do it?

This unit will equip you with the tools to critically evaluate models and approaches to leadership and to apply these to a range of 21st century problems, such as poverty, inequality and climate change. The unit will also help you to develop a toolkit of transferable skills that will boost your employability.

You will hear from leaders who are influencing change in the world around us, including some of the university's leading academics and leaders from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The LIA 10 credit lecture based units are available in both semester 1 and 2. Alternatively, you can opt to take the 20 credit version of the unit, which runs over both semesters and includes an independent research project on a topic of your own choosing.

Students who successfully complete an LIA unit and 20, 40 or 60 hours of approved volunteering will be awarded the prestigious Manchester Leadership Programme Certificate (Bronze, Silver or Gold).


The course unit aims to:

  • Encourage an understanding of the importance of leadership of self and others
  • Broaden intellectual and cultural interests
  • Challenge and equip you to confront personal values and make ethical judgements
  • Prepare you for citizenship and leadership in diverse, global environments
  • Enhance employability

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit you will be able to:

  • Evaluate different models and theories of leadership, within a 21st century global context
  • Analyse the ways in which leaders influence change and how leadership skills may be applied in both learning and occupational contexts
  • Employ reflective learning skills in order to relate models of leadership to personal practice
  • Analyse complex, 'wicked', problems and leadership in response to them
  • Work within an interdisciplinary team to present an idea, drawing on a range of perspectives and expertise

In addition, for 20 credits:

  • Design and conduct an independent research project, including a structured, well-argued written report


The unit content is delivered via 9 x weekly, 90 minute lectures and 2 tutorials.

10 Credits

Lecture 1 introduces and examines key leadership theories which will be applied throughout the course.

The first tutorial introduces the concept of tame and wicked problems, and leadership in response to them.

Other lectures, in weeks 2-11, examine leadership and complex problems, from different perspectives, covering a range of leadership issues and challenges for the 21st century, such as:

  • Poverty and inequality
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Culture and diversity
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Business Ethics and Responsibility
  • Urban regeneration, social inclusion and sustainable communities

Weekly, facilitated, discussion boards ask you to think about problems, and challenges for leaders, and to analyse them, applying your understanding of leadership theory, in particular leadership in response to wicked problems.

Note that, apart from the core leadership lecture, each Semester's lecture programme is different.

20 Credits

In addition to the above, those of you taking the unit for 20 credits will complete a supervised individual research project.

You will attend an information session as well as a research tutorial. There are no additional lectures in semester 2. You will be allocated a personal tutor to guide you through your individual research project.


10 Credits

  1. Group project (30%, includes element of peer scoring)
  2. Ongoing assessments, including short online tests and discussions (30%)
  3. 1500 word written assessment task (choice of task; 40%)

20 Credits

  1. Group project (15%, includes element of peer scoring)
  2. Ongoing assessments, including short online tests and discussions (15%)
  3. 1500 word written assessment task (choice of task; 20%)
  4. Two stage individual research project proposal (0% but mandatory)
  5. 3500 word report on own choice of individual research project on a leadership theme (50%)


Year 1 students (with the exception of Study Abroad and Exchange students) are not eligible to take this unit.

UCIL units are designed to be accessible to undergraduate students from all disciplines.

UCIL units are credit-bearing and it is not possible to audit UCIL units or take them for additional/extra credits. You must enrol following the standard procedure for your School when adding units outside of your home School.

If you are not sure if you are able to enrol on UCIL units you should contact your School Undergraduate office. You may wish to contact your programme director if your programme does not currently allow you to take a UCIL unit.

You can also contact the UCIL office if you have any questions.

Teaching Staff

Sian Yeowell and contributors including leaders from the public, private and voluntary sectors

Teaching and Learning Methods

The unit uses a variety of teaching methods including:

  • 9 x interactive lectures, including lecturer-led Q&A and individual and group activities
  • Tutor-led, face-to-face group tutorials (in week 3 and week 8 lecture slots)
  • Tutor-facilitated online discussion forums examining issues raised by weekly lecture
  • Access to a range of elearning tools through Blackboard, including shared wiki to support group project

And for 20 credits:

  • One-to-one tutorials
  • Face-to-face and online research workshops


Lectures commence the week beginning Monday 23 September 2019 unless directed otherwise by your unit convenor. See the 2019-20 timetable below: Lecture Based & 20 Credit Units (UCIL20020 & 21)
1 - 12Tuesday16:00 - 18:00
My experience doing the UCIL Leadership in Action module was and remains one of my favourite modules for a number of reasons. Introducing me to the language of leadership theory and the psychological/cognitive behaviour aspects benefitted me hugely as well as other chem eng students who took the module.Matt Hill, Chemical Engineering

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