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Programme overview

The Master of Studies in Social Innovation is a part-time graduate programme which welcomed its first cohort of 30 students in October 2016.

The programme is part-time over two years and includes online delivery and four residentials of a week each in Cambridge - three residentials in the first year and one residential in the second year.

The programme provides an overview and understanding of social innovation and approaches to address social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities. Social innovation is becoming central to the ambitions of the corporate and public sectors as well as the NGO/social sector, therefore the programme will examine social innovation within each sector as well as the pressing need to work in collaboration to tackle the 'wicked problems' the globe faces. 

The Master of Studies (MSt) provides an open environment for critical dialogue. The aim is to be highly interactive with workshops, case studies, subject experts, and practitioners engaging in the discussion of key concepts, theories, frameworks, and emerging ideas for creating, developing, and enabling social innovation in the public, private and social sectors in the UK and internationally.

In recognition of the fact that social innovation occurs across all sectors, the MSt is aimed at middle and senior level leaders in NGOs, public bodies and the private sector. Students form a key part of a strategy to engage with individuals and organisations working specifically to develop novel 'solutions' to deep-rooted problems of poverty and inequality in both rich and poor countries.

Students complete three taught modules in year one and one taught module, plus a dissertation, in year two.

Programme structure

Module 1: Organising for Social Change

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
  • social change and innovation: theoretical perspectives
  • social ventures: theory and practice
  • case studies in social innovation and ventures (corporate, public and social).

Module 2: Leading Social Innovation

Strategies for leading and executing social innovation - this course focuses on the distinctive leadership challenges inherent in creating social innovation (as social entrepreneurs and social intraperenuers within large organisations) and opportunities and challenges of cross-sector collaboration for social change.

The module covers:

  • executing strategy
  • leadership perspectives and practices
  • organisational change and collaboration.

Module 3: Social Innovation in Practice: The Social Innovation Project

You create a blueprint for a social venture, social change organisation or internal change project, applying the skills developed in business, financial planning and social impact measurement.

Module 4: Social Innovation Research

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.

Module 5: Social Innovation dissertation

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

The dissertation mark counts for 50 per cent of the final mark.


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 5 by a research proposal (4,000 words). Each module assignment (1-4) contributes 12.5 per cent to the final mark 

Your mark for the 15,000 word dissertation contributes 50 per cent to the final mark.

Please note that the content of the programme is subject to change.