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University of Exeter Business School

Introduction to Leadership Studies

Module titleIntroduction to Leadership Studies
Module codeBEM1022
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Susan Reh ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description



This module aims to introduce you to the key issues and concerns of leadership and leadership studies. You will examine insights from cutting edge research on the nature and character of leadership across a range of disciplines. Each week, we will explore a different leadership theory, using it as a ‘lens’ which can bring some aspects of leadership into focus, and make other aspects blurred. The module reading and discussion will focus on several questions, beginning with the most fundamental: “What is leadership?” 


Additional Information: Internationalisation 


Leadership and globalisation issues are embedded in the course content. This module engages with different international leadership issues using international examples throughout, drawing from politics, current affairs or history as well from film, fiction and popular culture. 


Sustainability& ESG 


Sustainability and ESG issues are integrated into the module content. The module convenor’s research on the environment, sustainability and governance, and the challenges faced by leaders looking to improve ESG business practice also informs the content of this module. The lecture, tutorial and reading list information is available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment). 




Students develop a number of valuable transferable skills including collaboration, communication, the ability to link theory to practice in different organisational contexts, critical thinking, an awareness of the wider social context   and contemporary issues, self-awareness and the capacity for personal reflections, confidence, assertiveness and independent study skills. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will:

  • Help you to cultivate a vocabulary conducive to understanding and analysing the many aspects and elements, and the ethical challenges of leadership.
  • Focus on developing your communication skills to make you capable of articulating this knowledge orally and in written work.
  • Develop your skills in comparing and contrasting the attributes, assumptions, strengths and weaknesses in a variety of perspectives on leadership.
  • Develop your ability to link theory to practice and analyse the actions of leaders in context.
  • Improve your inter-personal skills through exposure to collaborative activities.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate familiarity with the concept of leadership;
  • 2. explain a range of theoretical approaches to understanding leadership;
  • 3. describe fundamental influence processes involved in leadership;
  • 4. articulate the social dynamics through which leadership emerges.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. evidence practical examples of leadership in a variety of contexts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. identify the approaches, styles, strengths, and weaknesses that s/he brings to the leadership process;
  • 7. demonstrate persuasive communication skills in written work;
  • 8. independently complete original work to given deadlines.

Syllabus plan

    • Introduction: What is leadership? 

    • What are leaders like? Leadership traits 

    • What do leaders do? Leadership skills 

    • Does context matter? Situational leadership 

    • How to win friends and influence people – charisma, transformational and transactional leadership 

    • There’s no ‘I’ in team! Distributed leadership 

    • Women in leadership 

    • Doing things right, or doing the right thingLeadership, the environment and ethics 

    • Making Leaders – the role of leadership development 

    • Assessment Workshop 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Learning and Teaching Activity22Lectures
Learning and Teaching Activity3Tutorials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in shared learning activities3 x 120 minute Tutorials 1-7Verbal feedback provided by tutorial facilitator

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written Assignment 1401,000 words1-4 Written feedback
Written Assignment 2602,000 words1-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written Assessment (40%)Written Assessment (40%) 1,000 words1-4August/September Reassessment Period
Written Assessment (60%)Written Assessment (60%) 2,000 words1-8August/September Reassessment Period

Re-assessment notes


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The course textbook is Northouse, P.G. (2019) Leadership Theory and Practice. International Student Edition London: Sage

Additional reading in the form of journal articles and chapters will be provided via an online ELE reading list.

Indicative resources include:

Anderson, H. J., Baur, J. E., Griffith, J. A., & Buckley, M. R. (2017). What works for you may not work for (Gen) Me: Limitations of present leadership theories for the new generation. The Leadership Quarterly28(1), 245-260.

Day, D. V., Fleenor, J. W., Atwater, L. E., Sturm, R. E., & McKee, R. A. (2014). Advances in leader and leadership development: A review of 25years of research and theory. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 63-82.

Hairon, S., & Goh, J. W. (2015). Pursuing the elusive construct of distributed leadership: Is the search over?. Educational Management Administration & Leadership43(5), 693-718.

Kho, T. Zhou, R, Zou C, Rule NO (2018) Charisma in everyday life: Conceptualization and validation of the General Charisma Inventory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 114(1):131-152

Levine, M. P., & Boaks, J. (2014). What does ethics have to do with leadership?. Journal of Business Ethics, 124(2), 225-242.

Mumford, M. D., Todd, E. M., Higgs, C., & McIntosh, T. (2017). Cognitive skills and leadership performance: The nine critical skills. The Leadership Quarterly, 28(1), 24-39.

Thompson, G., & Vecchio, R. P. (2009). Situational leadership theory: A test of three versions. The Leadership Quarterly, 20(5), 837-848.

Vinnicombe, S., Sealy, R., & Humbert, A. L. (2019). Female FTSE Board Report. Downloadable at:

 Zaccaro, S. J. (2007). Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist, 62(1), 6.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

We will regularly use clips from You Tube, Ted Talks, video and film as well as Kahoot Quizzes in class and on ELE to support your learning.  We will also make use of collaborative technology to support participation, such as Mural, Mentimeter, ELE discussion forms.

Key words search

Leadership, management, traits, transformation, charisma, skills, context, ethics, gender, leadership development 

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date