Overview of the MSt in Social Innovation programme

The programme.

The Master of Studies (MSt) in Social Innovation is a two-year, part-time, research-based programme including online delivery and four one-week long residentials in Cambridge. 

Social innovation is becoming central to the ambitions of the corporate and public sectors, as well as the social sector, NGOs and entrepreneurs. Therefore, the MSt programme examines both social innovation within the context of these sectors, and the urgent need for intersectional collaboration to tackle and develop novel solutions to the deep-rooted ‘wicked problems’ the globe faces. 

The programme addresses the social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities of social innovation by offering its students an open environment for critical dialogue and engagement with workshops, case studies, subject experts, and practitioners. This educational space allows for the discussion of key concepts, theories, frameworks, and emerging ideas for creating, developing, and enabling social innovation around the world. It forms a key strategy to engage with individuals and organisations working specifically to develop socially innovative solutions in both high-income and low income countries.

In recognition of the fact that social innovation occurs across all sectors, the MSt is aimed at entrepreneurs and middle and senior level leaders in NGOs, public bodies and the private sector. 

CJBS aspires to become a leader in business excellence through Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in everything we do. We expect our students to join us in our commitment for EDI to become a driving principle across the whole Business School.

Browse the below tabs to find out the key contents per module and for a description of our blended learning model, including an indicative timeline.


This module looks at the theory and history of social change, innovation and ventures. You learn and critique ideas from sociology, political science and organisational behaviour in order to build a deep knowledge and understanding of different forms of social and organisational change.

The module covers:

  • approaching social change and innovation
  • theoretical perspectives of social change and innovation
  • theory and practice of social entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and extrapreneurship
  • case studies in social innovation and ventures (corporate, public and social).

This module focuses on strategies for leading and executing social innovation. You examine the distinctive leadership challenges inherent in creating social innovation (as social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs within large organisations) and discuss opportunities and challenges of cross-sector collaboration for social change.

The module covers:

  • social innovation and organisational theory
  • leadership perspectives and practices
  • organisational change and collaboration
  • developments and challenges in digital innovation.

Module 3 focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to prepare well-thought-out social venture business plans, or project plans around social intrapreneurship or social extrapreneurship interventions. The module is by and large practically focused, but brings in the relevant theory to enable students to situate social innovation practice in the wider literature on business planning.

You learn and then apply advanced quantitative and qualitative methods in the study of social innovation and ventures in preparation for the dissertation.

The module covers:

  • research strategy and processes
  • qualitative methods
  • quantitative methods.

You prepare a dissertation (15,000 words) based on primary research in your work or other context agreed with the Programme Director and your dissertation supervisor.

The dissertation mark counts for 50% of the final mark.

Research summaries of dissertations authored by past MSt in Social Innovation students are available from the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation webpages.


Modules 1 and 2 will be assessed by essays (5,000 words), module 3 will be assessed by a business plan or critical case study (5,000 words) and module 4 by a research proposal (4,000 words). Each of these assignments (1-4) contributes 12.5% to the final mark.

Your mark for the 15,000-word dissertation contributes 50% to the final mark.

Delivery model

The delivery model for this MSt is a blend of online materials/forums and residentials.

Each module (1-4) will consist of two months of e-learning (online delivery), a residential week in Cambridge, and one month for assignment writing.


The elearning phase consists of eight weeks with four two-week unit blocks of content, student participation and self-assessment exercises. The purpose of this online delivery phase is to ground you in the themes and literature and to prepare you to engage in informed discussion at the residential. During this phase students receive a one-to-one tutorial (in person or via video call) in preparation for the assessment phase.

Residential week

The residential week provides an opportunity to consolidate and extend the online learning through lectures, workshops, student projects, guest lectures and networking events.

You work on a group project (unassessed) during each residential week.

The residential weeks for 2023/25 entrants are scheduled to take place on:

  • 4 to 8 December 2023
  • 18 to 22 March 2024
  • 24 to 28 June 2024
  • September 2024 (dates tbc)


Typically the assignment will be submitted one month after the completion of the residential.

Indicative timeline

First year

Michaelmas Term (module 1)

Lent Term (module 2)

Easter Term (module 3)

Online delivery








Assessment deadline




Second year

Michaelmas Term (module 4)

Lent Term (dissertation)

Easter Term (dissertation)

Online delivery




Assignment deadline


Dissertation writing



Dissertation deadline