Leadership and Management for Journalists by distance learning

The NCTJ’s Leadership and Management for Journalists is a level 7 qualification which sets the first accredited standard for editorial leaders.

Created by journalists for journalists, this level 7 qualification is aimed at developing existing and aspiring editorial leaders who make an important contribution towards achieving organisational goals.

The qualification is ideal for anyone who wants to develop their skills and excel in a leadership position.

The leadership training was developed following consultation with industry and the learning reflects the unique challenges faced by managers in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.

The course will teach the key principles of effective leadership in an editorial context to include real-life scenarios and case studies.

The course is studied via distance learning on the Journalism Skills Academy’s e-learning platform so that learners work at their own pace and in their own time, fitting around their day-to-day roles so they can apply their new knowledge immediately.

Learners will also access a mentoring scheme to support their development, in which they will be matched with industry leaders.

Key information

  • Learning materials are studied on the Journalism Skills Academy e-learning platform
  • The average time commitment is seven hours a week to gain the qualification in 12 months (other variations include four to five hours per week across 18 months)
  • The course is ideal for early-career managers or established leaders who are keen to develop their leadership skills
  • Learners can enrol on all modules at once or one module at a time
  • There is the option to study a single module alone, depending on the training needs of individuals and/or organisations
  • Learners have the option to join the NCTJ leadership mentor scheme where individuals are matched with an industry leader
  • Learners will have the option to attend a workshop to support the completion of assessments. Two workshops will be held each year.


  • Full qualification (seven modules) – £999 + VAT
  • Leading the Team core module – £285 + VAT
  • Other individual modules – £145 + VAT
  • Assessments – £199 + VAT

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If you would like to book individual qualifications please see below

Course content

There are seven modules available for study. Every module can be studied to gain the qualification, or you can choose to study just one module on its own, depending on your training needs. The seven modules are:

Leading the team

Leading the team

This is the core, double module  for the course, which provides the foundation skills essential to be an effective leader.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Perceptions of leadership and its impact on the team and wider organisational goals

– Types of personality and traits and their impact on leadership

– Understanding hard and soft skills in leadership including emotional intelligence and empathy

– Dominance versus prestige leadership and the rise of the prestige leader

– Leading with confidence and maintaining self-belief in a challenging environment

– Motivating and engaging the team in a challenging environment

– Developing the team including succession planning, talent management and mentoring and coaching

– Performance management, setting expectations and measuring performance

– Managing underperformance and having difficult conversations

– Diversity and inclusion in leadership and adopting a inclusive leadership style

– Collaboration and influencing

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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This module focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to operate effectively in the day-to-day and to understand wider cross-functional and strategic operations in an organisation.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Impact of effective time management and prioritisation

– Managing workloads for people in your team

– Tools and techniques to support time management and prioritisation

– The key operational aspects of employment law

– Financial management including budgets and profit and loss accounts

– Understanding other organisational functions

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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Change management

Change management

This module focuses on managing change in an editorial setting, which is an essential skill for leaders in an industry that continues to experience rapid change and transformation.

Change management is complex and challenging and makes use of many of the skills covered in the Leading the Team module such as the ability to motivate the team, to use softer skills such as emotional intelligence and empathy, and to set expectations and manage the team. Communication skills are also essential and form the basis of any change implementation plan.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Definitions and explanations of change management and transformation in an the workplace and editorial setting

– Forces for change in the industry and the impact of the change on an organisation

– Identifying resistances to change and guidance on overcoming those resistances

– Practical guidance on implementing change and creating a change plan

– The module will introduce learners to a range of frameworks and models which can be used to support change management strategies.

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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This module puts the spotlight on strategy which is at the at the heart of every organisation.

The module will help learners to understand how a strategy takes shape, how it is planned and how it is implemented. It will explore both large-scale and small-scale strategies and teach the skills to be able to create your own strategy.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Understanding strategy and how it shapes a media organisation

– Creating a strategy and strategic planning

– Setting expectations and defining KPIs and objectives

– The importance of audience and the role it plays in strategic planning

– Understanding the basics of strategic marketing

– The art of writing a business plan

The module will introduce learners to a range of frameworks and models which can be used to support change management strategies.

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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Creativity and innovation

Creativity and innovation

This module shows the link between creativity and innovation and how they should co-exist in an editorial setting.

Being creative and innovative is important in most industries but it is especially so in the media industry, not least because organisations must continually innovate to remain relevant in a competitive market.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Creative and innovative approaches to product and content development

– Measuring the success of creativity and innovation

– Creative and innovative thinking in leadership and problem solving

– Creating a creative culture with engagement and a flow of ideas

– Facilitating forums for creativity and innovation

– Continuous improvement and innovating to create efficiencies

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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Workplace wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing

This module tackles the complexities of managing wellbeing in the workplace which has become an increasingly important issue for editorial managers, particularly after the pandemic and national lockdown led to a significant deterioration in people’s mental health.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Understanding key aspects of wellbeing in the workplace

– Building and maintaining resilience as a leader

– Recognising, managing and coping with stress

– Spotting signs of mental health issues in yourself and the team

– Nurturing wellbeing in a hybrid working environment

– Understanding modern wellbeing topics and employee groups

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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This module shows how communication skills touch almost every part of leadership and the challenge of achieving effective communication in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.

The module highlights the importance of effective communication, some of the techniques to use and the common pitfalls to avoid.

The subjects covered in this module include:

– Definitions of effective and non-effective communication

– Common barriers to effective communication and guidance to overcome them

– Developing active listening skills as an essential form of communication

– Handling difficult conversations, including conflict and anger and emotion

– How to deliver effective presentations, in person and virtually

– Frequency and modes of communications and taking a ‘layered’ approach

– Running effective meetings in person and virtually

– Making your voice heard in a group setting

Enrol on this module as part of the course, or study on its own.

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The target audience for this qualification is early-career editorial managers. Learners should have approximately two to three years of experience in journalism and will preferably have experience of managing others, although this is not essential if they are identified as being future editorial leaders.

It is recommended that learners have completed the NCTJ’s senior qualification, the Level 6 National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ). The NQJ can be entered for after 18 months employment within the industry (or a minimum of 12 months in exceptional circumstances). Individual employer requirements may also apply.

Exams and enrolment

The qualification is assessed by an online exam and a portfolio of evidence (including a reflective report) and a 2.5-hour examination.

Candidates need 60 percent to achieve a pass. Overall grades of Pass, Merit and Distinction will be awarded.

Exam dates are offered twice a year in November and June.

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