Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module BUSI44UJN: The Science of Leadership

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI44UJN: The Science of Leadership

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21
Tied to N2P109J
Tied to N2P209J
Tied to N5K609J


  • None


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable a science-based understanding of the role of leadership, its multiple facets, and its relationship to the role of management.
  • To provide a systematic process-related framework for understanding, evaluating, and applying leadership theory.
  • To critically review research evidence relating to our theoretical understanding of leadership, distinguishing leadership myths from leadership science.
  • To understand how leadership affects the development of individuals, teams, organisations and societies.
  • To build science-based understanding of students' own leadership skills and capacities.


  • What processes lead to the perception of leadership and facilitate social influence and human performance?
  • Major theories which underpin our understanding of leadership which may include:
  • Process and skill-based theories of leadership
  • Implicit theories of leadership ï‚·
  • Understanding alternative views of knowledge and their relation to effectiveness ï‚·
  • Social identity theory, social exchange, and social justice theories, and leadership ï‚·
  • Leadership and organisational performance, complexity, and changeï‚·
  • Effects of ethical versus destructive leadership; sustainable leadership; social leadership

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Critical understanding of the linkages between theory and practice of leadership through application to contemporary situations
  • Critical understanding of current challenges for leadership, such as diversity, social justice, climate change, and the role of the follower and (coping with) destructive leadership
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to understand, criticize, and apply leadership from a systematic information processing, affective, social exchange and dynamic systems perspectives
  • Ability to understand how to project an image as a confident, powerful individual
Key Skills:
  • Written communication
  • Understanding social perception and social communication processes involving explicit and implicit processes
  • Understanding how social processes are embedded in context and the role of leadership/followership in managing contextual linkages

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lecture sessions: theory will be presented together with the relevant research and evidence to enable a critical and evidenced-based approach to understanding.
  • Seminars will address:
  • issues to do with culture and context, thus allowing students to appreciate the role of the external environment in shaping leadership behaviour;
  • the complexity for leaders to meet differing (individual/group and organisational) demands;
  • the effect of positive and also bad/destructive leadership;
  • embodied aspects of self-presentation.
  • These themes will be explored through a variety of media including videos, written cases and practical exercises. In this way each student will be challenged to apply the theoretical and evidence-based material from lectures and also gain an appreciation of the tools and techniques commonly used by leaders and followers.
  • The summative written assignments (which will be topic or case based) will test students’ theoretical understanding, their knowledge of relevant evidence, and their ability to apply these to contemporary settings.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 per week 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 1 per fortnight 1 hour 4
Preparation, Reading, Data Collection and Independent Study 126
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual Assignment 2500 words (maximum) 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be provided on contributions to seminars and seminar exercises, and a group presentation.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University