MBA Applied Professional Practice (Railway Operations) (Degree Apprenticeship)

Enhance your qualifications and professional knowledge and advance your career in railway operations.

The Applied Professional Practice MBA (Railway Operations) (Degree Apprenticeship) meets the apprenticeship standard for senior leaders and is the only rail industry qualification of its kind.

Born of a 15-year partnership between Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and the Institution of Railway Operators (IRO), this course is designed to optimise industry specific and academic knowledge; successful apprentices will be entered into the End Point Assessment (EPA) with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

As a contributor of £36bn annually to the UK economy, the rail industry needs excellence in leadership, stakeholder management, systems integration, innovation, management of change and delivery of customer and commercial value. Through our collaborative design and delivery method, this Masters enables apprentices to acquire the knowledge skills and frameworks required to be an agile, resilient and ethical leader with strong railway-specific contextualisation. Graduates will be proficient in their discipline, entrepreneurial, confident, responsible, and capable of fulfilling leadership roles in various organisational, cultural and global contexts in the railway sector.

At the point of completion, apprentices will have integrated knowledge and skills gained in the course with their professional practice, and be able to critically appraise both. All the modules have a work-based focus, which mean apprentices have the opportunity to apply their learning throughout, creating benefits for the employer and employee. GCU’s Common Good principles and values are embedded in the course. Apprentices will develop their understanding of the complexities of the global business environment and responsible leadership. Through work-based learning, they have the opportunity to conceptualise and implement a project of significance within their organisation, taking into account the social and organisational impact of their initiative.

Degree Apprenticeships are supported by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Students and employers should check their eligibility for funding before supporting an apprentice’s application. The skills, knowledge, academic qualifications and experience of current employees will all be used to inform at which level of the programme candidates will commence their education.

Available in Glasgow, London and by distance learning.

Study Options

  • 2021/22


Mode of study


Start date


Blended Learning
16 Months
28 Sep 2021
GCU London
Award Mode of study Duration Start date Location  
MBA Blended Learning 16 Months 28 Sep 2021 GCU London Enquire

All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. Applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place may be asked to achieve more than is stated.

Standard entry

The academic requirement to be able to study at master’s level is typically demonstrated through an undergraduate degree (UK 2:2 degree or equivalent) in any discipline.

Applicants need to demonstrate that they have an adequate work experience background and be academically able to study at master’s level.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

For applicants with prior work experience and professional qualifications, there is a possibility to be considered through the university’s flexible entry system through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

This process allows prospective Degree Apprentices to claim credit(s) against previously assessed and certificated learning, including informal learning, to be considered and recognised for academic purposes and credit within their course.

Advanced entry may also be granted through RPL. Skills, knowledge, academic qualifications and experience will all be used to inform which year of the degree you will enter into.

Additional requirements

Applicants need to demonstrate that they have an adequate work experience background and be academically able to study at master’s level. The work experience requirement is typically fulfilled when applicants have been in permanent full-time employment in a managerial/professional strategic leadership position in the rail industry for at least two years.

This is evidenced through a CV, an accompanying one-page cover letter and professional reference (peer or senior colleague) demonstrating at least one of the following:
  • Senior management, formal governance/director responsibilities  
  • Responsibility for direction and vision, providing a clear sense of purpose and driving strategic intent  
  • Role considering market trends and environmental influences, identifying longer-term opportunities and risks, ethical and responsible leadership. 
  • Responsibility for others and/or significant organisational budgets.
This course supports progression in senior leadership positions such as operations, engineering, infrastructure, rail integration, asset management, health and safety, digital transformation or sustainability.

Candidates must be supported by their employer to participate.

From an employer perspective, this course enables talent development, talent retention and talent acquisition.

The Degree Apprenticeship has a typical duration of 16 months to full Masters completion or less for those granted advanced standing through RPL. 

The course requires 15 days’ attendance per year. This breaks down into:

  • Five days’ attendance in trimester A (mid-September to mid-December)
  • Five days’ attendance in trimester B (January to April)
  • Five days’ attendance in trimester C (May to August) (first year only)
Apprentices who would benefit from further academic support may be asked to attend for additional days per trimester.
  • Work-based Responsible Leadership 
  • Applied Methods for Evidence-Based Projects 
  • Applied Comparative Railway Operations  
  • Creating Contextualised Organisational Value 
  • Contextualised Strategic Management 
  • Railway Systems Integration 
  • Applied Corporate Citizenship in a Global Age  
  • Work Based Resilience Continuity and Crises Management 
  • Applied MBA Project (Rail) 
  • End Point Assessment with CMI
The course is delivered via blended learning, (online and face to face). All reading material, tutor discussions, assignment setting, marking and feedback, timelines and key dates are located in the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) GCU Learn.

Through a one password access logon for the VLE, students also access the University’s library.