The Aston Executive Leadership Apprenticeship

This postgraduate apprenticeship offers apprentices an in-depth personal and professional development programme designed to transform them into confident and informed business leaders. Apprentices will gain a broad knowledge of business management, covering topics such as organisational strategy, financial performance, managing operations and delivering customer value. With the option to progress from the Postgraduate Diploma to an Executive MBA, learners will be able to specialise their learning and qualification to reflect their business needs.


Start date: April and September

Course format

Work-based learning


2 years

UCAS code(s)

Start date

Course information

Who is this apprenticeship for?

The Aston Executive Leadership Apprenticeship is a transformational programme for managers who want to accelerate their careers and immerse themselves into the principles of strategic thinking in a business context. It is intended for professional managers in the private, public, or third sector and all sizes of organisation who want to develop their management and leadership knowledge, transferable skills and behaviours. Roles can include anyone with significant management responsibilities including leading people, projects, operations and/or services to deliver long term results.


The qualifications apprentices will receive upon completion are:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration
  • The Aston Executive Leadership Apprenticeship certificate
  • Chartered Manager status from the CMI

Programme content

Programme content is taught at postgraduate level and includes four core modules covering essential business and management topics:

  • Measuring & Enhancing Financial Performance
  • Creating & Delivering Customer Value
  • Designing & Managing Systems, Operations and Processes
  • Crafting Organisational Strategy

Apprentices also have the opportunity to select two elective modules to deepen their knowledge of a key business area and specialise their apprenticeship, including but not limited to:

  • International Business
  • Business Finance
  • Entrepreneurial Strategies
  • Global Business Ethics

Learners will also study the Aston Edge alongside the core modules. The Aston Edge is a programme of workshops that complement the apprentice's academic learning and develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills. There are eight workshops in total, including:

  • Introduction to Leadership
  • Responsible Leadership
  • VUCA Leadership
  • Leading Change
  • Entrepreneurship

MBA progression pathway

This programme enables candidates who have completed the apprenticeship to progress to an Executive MBA. Apprentices can apply to progress to this pathway during the apprenticeship and will automatically be accepted as long as they complete the apprenticeship stage. The MBA programmes are typically a 12 month project, and students are allocated a research supervisor to support their learning.

The MBA allows learners to specialise in a number of areas, including:

  • Strategic Management
  • International Business
  • Leading People for Competitive Change

Learn more about the Executive MBA 

Learning, teaching and assessment

Learning and teaching

The course is delivered through blended learning. Modules will be taught in eight week blocks and will attend two study days per module on campus at Aston University where they will learn through lectures and interactive workshops. This is also a chance to network with fellow business leaders from a wide range of organisations. Face-to-face study sessions give apprentices the opportunity to enrich their learning through discussion of current business issues.

Most teaching is delivered through our virtual learning environment, Blackboard, where candidates can engage with module content, participate in live seminars and communicate with their peers. There is also an extensive online library of content to support their studies. Live sessions typically occur outside of work time and are recorded to give apprentices the flexibility to balance studies with work and personal commitments.


Learners will be assessed through applied assignments. While there are no traditional examinations, candidates will be assessed through work-based projects that give them the opportunity to implement their learning and make a positive impact in their organisation.

In the final year, apprentices will complete a final project, requiring them to apply all the theory and skills gained throughout the apprenticeship.

The portfolio

Throughout the programme apprentices will curate a personal and professional development portfolio. The purpose of the portfolio is to showcase the skills, knowledge and behaviours develop through the programme and how the apprentices has applied them to their role in the organisation.

Every apprentice is allocated an apprentice coach who will support their learning and skills development. The Aston Edge modules will support apprenticeship with skills development, personal reflection, collaborative working and ultimately, the construction of the portfolio.

The End Point Assessment

The final stage of the apprenticeship is the end point assessment. The apprentice will meet with an independent assessor to discuss their final project and the impact it had on their organisation. They will also review their development journey and how their portfolio has documented it. Finally there will be a short interview allowing the candidate time to share how the programme has helped them to grow and develop. After the interview, based both on the apprentice’s performance and portfolio, the assessor will award the apprentice either a fail, pass, merit or distinction for the apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

To be considered for this programme, Aston University expects that applications will have at least three years in a management position plus one of the following:

  • A UK honours degree, or
  • An equivalent overseas degree recognised by Aston University, or
  • A degree-level professional qualification, or
  • At least seven years in a relevant management position.

Apprentices must also meet the following criteria:

  • Be employed in a job in England with responsibilities aligned with the degree content
  • Have a minimum of Grade C/4 in GCSE Mathematics and English (or Level 2 equivalent) by the end of the programme
  • Be a UK/EU/EAA resident for at least three years prior to starting the course.

To progress onto the MBA or MSc programmes, applicants will automatically be approved as long as they have completed all 120 credits of the apprenticeship programme.


The cost of the apprenticeship is £14,000 and is covered by the apprenticeship levy.

The progression to an MBA or MSc will cost £4,000 and is not covered by the apprenticeship levy. This can be self-funded, funded by the employer, or co-funded. This is a special rate which applies to candidates who enrol on the apprenticeship programme in the first year and will be subject to review for following years.


We hosted a webinar about the new Aston Executive Leadership Apprenticeship programme, how it has changed and what you can get out of it. If you missed it you can watch the recording below.