A world-class programme, giving you a solid basis in research methodology 

The MPhil in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation is an interdisciplinary programme exploring innovation and change through 3 interconnecting themes:  

  • innovation and work practices 
  • innovation and strategic change 
  • new organisational forms

The programme seeks to provide the methodological and theoretical foundation for further research and is specifically aimed at students intending to continue to a PhD degree, whether in Cambridge or elsewhere.  

Our professors discuss what they enjoy about working with MPhil in ISO students

Professor Matthew Grimes: “So I’m here with Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville, the Diageo Professor of Organisation Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School. Jennifer has been doing cutting-edge research in the areas of environmental sustainability and engagement with grand challenges for a number of years now. In that work that she’s done, she’s been doing quite a bit of engagement specifically with the MPhil Innovation, Strategy and Organisation students. So, Jennifer, as you have been working with these students over several years now, what is it that you have enjoyed about working with these students?”

Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville: “First off, their energy and their fresh perspectives because they’re really, really driven to understand and influence things in the world that matter to business and organisations. And they bring a hunger to gain this research perspective and have a methodical and rigorous way to tackle those. So it’s a great collaboration when it works out for us to engage with their questions and their passion and for us to help them discover that way to systematically study them.”

Matthew: “Right. And I guess because they’re engaged so much, I think, in the context in which they’re embedded, right, they’re coming from different parts of the globe, from different industries, typically with different motivations for why they’re pursuing the degree in the first place, I mean, it makes for a very eclectic group of students, both in the classroom, but also as you’re supervising them. And so how has that been in terms of the marriage between the theory that we’re trying to bring to the table and their experiences that they’re bringing from the phenomena in which they’ve worked for many years?”

Jennifer: “It’s definitely a huge plus. I mean, I think having people who’ve experienced and have questions arising from all sorts of issues, the introduction of digital technologies across all sorts of sectors and industries, across all sorts of parts of the world, grand challenges and sustainability, we can’t be everywhere, so it’s wonderful to have these things showing up on our doorstep. And at the same time, both in my research work with the MPhils and also teaching them Organisation Theory, we get to take the lenses that we’ve used over the years in our field and stretch them and use them and see how they can apply, and also challenge the ideas that many of us have around what the role of our field is and what the role of research is. So it makes a really, really generative and exciting combination.”

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Programme outline

Learning experience 

The field of innovation, strategy and organisations is inherently interdisciplinary, and so is this programme. You will study the key theories and central debates in academic ISO literature, and you will be challenged to sharpen your reading, writing, interpretation and research skills. 

You will learn through inspiring lectures with Cambridge Judge expert faculty, independent reading and hands-on research. Classroom discussions and group debates are central to many courses and we expect students to actively contribute, fostering a learning environment where ideas can be generated and discussed. 


Assessment will be by written examination, essay, or course work, depending upon the nature of the particular course. Each course carries the same weighting towards the final mark. The 12,000-word dissertation is equivalent to 3 courses.

Continuing to PhD

If you wish to continue to the PhD, you must apply by the end of your first term on the MPhil. Interviews take place early in the second term, with final decisions based on: 

  • reports from interviews 
  • academic reference letters 
  • how your research interest fits the faculty’s expertise 
  • performance in Michaelmas term

Formal PhD offers are made in February, typically conditional on final performance in the programme. All continuing PhD students are fully funded. 

Core courses

Explore our core courses. You will take 3 core courses, one for each of the areas of Innovation, Strategy and Organisation, and 2 research methodology core courses. 


Choose one specialist elective from our list of topics. You will need to choose particular electives if you’re planning on continuing to a PhD at the Business School. 

Student studying in the library.


At the end of the programme, you will work on your dissertation on any subject within the broad field of innovation, strategy and organisation on which a Cambridge Judge Business School faculty member agrees to supervise a student.

The MPhil in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation dissertation can be on any subject within the broad field of innovation, strategy and organisation on which a Cambridge Judge Business School faculty member agrees to supervise a student.

While the time available for the Innovation, Strategy and Organisation dissertation and its word length (12,000 words) are recognised to limit the depth and scope of the research that can be undertaken, your dissertation is nevertheless expected to be an original piece of work that advances knowledge in its field.

The MPhil dissertation serves as a demonstration of your research capabilities and can be the foundation for future PhD studies.

The MPhil in ISO is the ideal steppingstone for a career in academia. Compact and rigorous, this 9-month programme allows students to focus on their areas of interest from an early stage in their career onwards and equips them with the knowledge and skills to thrive in the competitive environment of management scholarship. The small class sizes and fantastic supervision render this programme a unique experience in a beautiful setting. My fellow students at Cambridge Judge Business School constitute a supportive network of inspiring companions and, most importantly, great friends.

Tirza Gapp (MPhil ISO alumna), Germany

“Why did you choose to pursue an academic career studying business and management?”

Professor Matthew Grimes: “I wanted to start with an initial question. Pursuing an MPhil in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation is a fairly non-typical route, both for people interested in business and management, but also for people interested in pursuing PhDs in business and management. So why did you choose to pursue an academic career studying business and management?”

Jonah Zankl (MPhil ISO, PhD): “So I think for me, prior to starting the MPhil ISO, I was also working. I was in a bank as a technology product manager, working with fintechs based in the United States. And on top of that had come from a really quantitative background. So as I spent time in my role, I started to get interested in answering these big questions around how do we actually support startups to be successful and what does that look like? Coming from a background in economics, I had these questions around, what does this look like from a policy perspective? Are we spending money efficiently, effectively? How do we measure these environments that we use to support startups?

“So I found the opportunity for the MPhil/ISO in particular an opportunity to move into some qualitative research, broaden my skill set to be able to answer different questions and big questions. And I think staying on to continue a career in academia is really focused on answering these questions that affect society. That’s not necessarily something you get day to day in a role around technology. You might be impacting your customers. You might be impacting certain aspects of society, but not necessarily understanding the why.

“So I think staying in this role, or in this field, to be able to really dig into questions that are important around, how do we address grand challenges? How do entrepreneurs both affect society, but how does society affect the way that entrepreneurship is conducted? I find that the programme here has really been an opportunity to do that.”

Lucy Caines (MPhil ISO, PhD): “For me, between my undergraduate studies and returning for the MPhil/ISO, I’d spent around six years or so working in consulting, and that had given me the opportunity to work with lots of organisations across the public, private, and social enterprise sectors. And that enabled me to spot these patterns and puzzles in how these organisations operated and more about their contexts, as well. But I was really craving that intellectual perspective and the theoretical academic grounding of these things that I was observing. So that’s what called me personally to return to academia.”

“But on a broader level as well, I’d also seen how the work of business schools and management scholars was being utilised in some of those organisations I was working with, as well, which I found really exciting, kind of bridging that gap between practitioners and academics. And to me, that was a really exciting place to try and join that conversation and become a part of that bridge.”

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