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Programme overview

Students on the MSt in Social Innovation working together in the classroom.

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

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

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 offers 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 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.

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. 

Module 1: Organising for Social Change

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).

Module 2: Leading Social Innovation

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:

  • executing strategy
  • leadership perspectives and practices
  • organisational change and collaboration
  • developments and challenges of social innovation in the digital context.

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

During this module you work towards your own social innovation project. You either create a blueprint for a social venture, develop an internal change project or write up a case study, applying the knowledge and skills gained.

The module covers:

  • business models
  • financial planning 
  • 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 4 by a research proposal (4,000 words). Each of these assignments (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.

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

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


The online phase consists of eight weeks with four two-week unit blocks of content, student participation and self-assessment exercises. The purpose of the online delivery 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 Skype) in preparation for the assessment phase.


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

You work on a group project (unassessed) during each residential week, apart from module 3, where you work on your own project.


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 Oct-Nov Feb-Mar May-Jun
Residential Dec Mar Jun
Assessment deadline Jan Apr Jul

Second year

  Michaelmas Term (module 4) Lent Term (dissertation) Easter Term (dissertation)
Online delivery Aug-Sep    
Residential Sep    
Assignment deadline Nov    
Dissertation writing   Jan-Mar Apr-Jun
Dissertation deadline     Jun