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The Marketing Specialisation

What is marketing?

Marketing is the study of how organisations interact with customers (and vice versa). As such it focuses on how organisations create value for customers and capture value from customers in return. The Marketing specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations is part of the Marketing PhD pathway. It is divided into three broad areas: marketing strategy, marketing modelling, and consumer behaviour.

  • Marketing strategy research views the firm's interaction with its customers (and external stakeholders more generally) from the perspective of the firm's managers. Chiefly through quantitative analysis of empirical data, researchers in marketing strategy address questions linking the actions of the firm and its managers vis-à-vis external stakeholders with the firm's performance.
  • Marketing modelling research involves economic analysis of the interactions among firms and consumers. Researchers in marketing modelling address their research questions by means of analytical modelling with a game theory approach, econometric analysis of empirical data, or experimental economics methods.
  • Consumer behaviour research investigates the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different marketplace alternatives. Researchers in consumer behaviour draw heavily upon the theories and methodologies of experimental psychology, particularly experimental social psychology.

Learn more about our supervising faculty's research interests

Ahmed Khwaja On the substantive side, Ahmed has investigated topics related to experience spillovers in market entry, retail chain expansion and size dynamics, long run and short run effects of collaboration in pharmaceutical innovation, effect of employee engagement on customer satisfaction, and moral hazard & adverse selection in health care markets.
Dominique Lauga Dominique's research interests are in marketing strategy and behavioural economics. In particular, her research focuses on analytical modelling of strategic decisions by firms, such as new product development and advertising.
Eric Levy Eric has two main research streams: (1) Prosocial behavior and charitable giving (examining social and moral identity, social comparison, and time and money effects); and (2) Interpersonal relationships and consumer behavior (examining social exclusion, anthropomorphism and brand relationships, and romantic relationships).
Shasha Lu Shasha's research interests mainly lie in developing quantitative tools that combine state-of-the-art video analytics and machine learning techniques from computer science with current marketing models to improve business practices in areas such as retailing, advertising, fashion and entertainment marketing, among others.
Vincent Mak Vincent's research lies in how people and firms make strategic decisions as they interact with each other, and what economic and psychological factors influence those decisions. The topics of his research include pricing, search behaviour, decisions in networks, and competitive strategies. He typically employs the insights and methods of experimental economics, game theory, and psychology to investigate his research questions.
Jaideep Prabhu Jaideep's research interests are in marketing, innovation, strategy and international business. In particular, he studies various cross-national issues concerning the antecedents and consequences of innovation. His current research is mainly on innovation in emerging markets and innovation by, for or with low income communities worldwide.
Eden Yin Eden's research interests include innnovation and new product growth in technology industries, and internationalisation strategies for firms from emerging markets.

The modules

The default modules for the Marketing specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations include:

Econometrics I

This course introduces you to the variety of quantitative research methods available for applied research in management and economics, providing you with sufficient background to choose techniques and methods suited to different data-sources and models. The focus is on the way techniques relate to theory, and on the insights that can be drawn from their application. We are concerned with the interpretation and appraisal of results, and emphasise applied work.

Topics covered include:

  • The paradigm: underlying "structure" and "true" models of phenomena
  • Probability distributions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Estimators and their properties
  • Testing hypothesis
  • Confidence intervals
  • Simple and multiple regression
  • Properties of regression coefficients
  • Transformation of variables
  • Linearity, nonlinearity and categorical variables
  • Simultaneous equations
  • Time series models
  • Stationary and nonstationary processes
  • Estimation

Econometrics II

Given the extensive availability and use of individual-level data sources for applied quantitative analysis, it has become increasingly important to understand the techniques available in applied research, their relation to theory, and what insights can be drawn from the estimation of models.

Many of these methods move beyond the standard tools of econometric analysis, in order to exploit the richness or structure of large sources of either cross-section or longitudinal data, or to compensate for some partial observability of data, or to build complexities in decision-making into an empirical study.

This course provides you with sufficient background to choose techniques suited both to the data-source and the model. There is an emphasis on the interpretation and critical appraisal of estimates, as well as on applied work, exploiting the availability of computer techniques for solutions.

Topics covered include:

  • Binary choice
  • Multiple choice and ordered response models
  • Limited dependent variable techniques
  • Duration and survival models
  • Panel data estimation methods
  • Nonparametric and semiparametric regression methods
  • Count data models

You must have taken the Econometrics I course if you wish to take this course.

Fundamentals of Competitive Markets

You are introduced to the foundations necessary to conduct research in the three areas of marketing, operations & technology management, and finance, with a view to developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general. This course covers standard models of:

  • individual choice under certainty and uncertainty
  • production theory
  • general equilibrium
  • monopoly pricing, price discrimination
  • information economics
  • behavioural economics

The course gives you some fundamental knowledge of competitive markets, enabling you to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research in a business school.

Further Econometrics: Time Series

The Time Series Econometrics module is intended to provide applicable, if introductory knowledge of time series analysis methods. An increasing number of empirical contexts in Finance and Management now have data in the form of time series. The statistics and modelling of time series data will be very useful in any researcher's toolkit.

Individual Research Project

This module is designed for you to conduct individual research under the supervision of SMO faculty members. Research projects can consist of a thorough literature review related to a specific research question, an in-depth critique of published papers, or a specific application of a research methodology (such as a pilot study on the basis of limited data). Our goal is to familiarise you with the faculty members' current research and bring you closer to the frontier of knowledge. The module can prepare you for the individual research that you will undertake in PhD studies, and can indeed become the starting point of future PhD research.

Marketing Strategy

This course is a survey of three distinct yet related areas: marketing, innovation and emerging economies. Marketing is the study of the interaction between organisations and markets. Innovation is the study of the commercial exploitation by organisations of new ideas. Emerging economies, such as India and China, are the big economic phenomenon of the contemporary global scene and the theatre in which new opportunities for marketing and innovation are unfolding in real time. This course takes a strategic perspective on these topics, viewing them all from the perspective of the firm and its performance.

Organisational Research Methods

This course helps you understand a variety of quantitative research methods, as well as their embeddedness within various research designs. Upon completion of the course, you'll have a good understanding of various quantitative methods commonly used in management research, and will have applied this knowledge to your own research project. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas: 

  • Research design
  • Experimental & quasi-experimental design
  • Survey design & analysis
  • Mediation & moderation
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Social network analysis
  • Meta-analysis

The objectives of this course are to increase your understanding of organisational research method and your sensitivity to the practical problems in conducting organisational research, as well as to apply organisational research methods to your own research projects and interests.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Consumer Behaviour (2018/19)

Consumer behaviour is the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different marketplace alternatives. Consumer behaviour is an important research area within almost all marketing departments at top business schools (and business schools in general), and is also closely related to other fields both within and outside of marketing (e.g., marketing strategy, organisational behaviour, experimental economics, behavioural finance and accounting, sociology, and experimental and social psychology). Thus, an understanding of consumer behaviour is useful to researchers in a number of disciplines, in addition to those planning an academic career in consumer behaviour.

The course mainly consists of seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers from various sub-areas of consumer behaviour, with a view to:

  • developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general
  • getting you to the point where you can review and write high quality papers in consumer behaviour
  • giving you an understanding of what it takes to publish consumer behaviour research in the top academic journals

Quantitative Marketing Models (2019/20)

This seminar-based course is an overview of quantitative modelling approaches to research on marketing problems. Three major areas are covered:

  • empirical modelling (econometrics)
  • analytical modelling (game theory/industrial organisation)
  • experimental economics/behavioural game theory

In each session you're required to read, analyse and comment on selected papers surrounding the key themes of that session. At least half of every session will be devoted to student presentations and group discussion. Having completed the course, you'll possess some basic knowledge of quantitative modelling in marketing. You'll also be able to leverage your course experience to develop an in-depth understanding of relevant topics of interest that'll help you pursue a research career in a business school.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Game Theory & Information Economics (2018/19)

This course is for students who wish to pursue a research career in a business school and consists of a mix of lectures and seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers. Following the course, you'll be able to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research.

Topics covered include:

  • Static games of complete information (normal form games)

    • Modelling strategic interactions
    • Iterated dominance and rationalisability
    • Nash equilibrium
    • Application: imperfect competition
    • Mixed strategies

  • Dynamic games of complete information (extensive form games)

    • Extensive form and Nash equilibrium
    • Subgame perfect equilibrium
    • Application: product differentiation
    • Repeated games and one-step deviation

  • Static games of incomplete information

    • Motivation
    • Bayesian Nash equilibrium

  • Dynamic games of incomplete information

    • Perfect Bayesian equilibrium
    • Signalling

Seminar in Strategy Content (2019/20)

This course provides a foundational survey of the key theories and empirical works that shape research on the content of strategic management - the relationship between the different strategies and resource and capability bundles firms develop, strategic positions they create, and their financial performance and competitive advantage. Building on strategic management, economics-based, and organisational theories, this course covers substantive research on the antecedents and consequences of competitive and corporate strategies undertaken by firms in connection with the changes and disruptions in the environment. The course involves active student participation in group discussions and critiques of the seminal classic contributions as well as latest research in various topics on the content of strategic management. It also involves you developing your own research ideas and proposals that build on some of the topics and theories covered.

Econometrics I

This course introduces you to the variety of quantitative research methods available for applied research in management and economics, providing you with sufficient background to choose techniques and methods suited to different data-sources and models. The focus is on the way techniques relate to theory, and on the insights that can be drawn from their application. We are concerned with the interpretation and appraisal of results, and emphasise applied work.

Topics covered include:

  • The paradigm: underlying "structure" and "true" models of phenomena
  • Probability distributions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Estimators and their properties
  • Testing hypothesis
  • Confidence intervals
  • Simple and multiple regression
  • Properties of regression coefficients
  • Transformation of variables
  • Linearity, nonlinearity and categorical variables
  • Simultaneous equations
  • Time series models
  • Stationary and nonstationary processes
  • Estimation

Marketing Strategy

This course is a survey of three distinct yet related areas: marketing, innovation and emerging economies. Marketing is the study of the interaction between organisations and markets. Innovation is the study of the commercial exploitation by organisations of new ideas. Emerging economies, such as India and China, are the big economic phenomenon of the contemporary global scene and the theatre in which new opportunities for marketing and innovation are unfolding in real time. This course takes a strategic perspective on these topics, viewing them all from the perspective of the firm and its performance.

Organisational Research Methods

This course helps you understand a variety of quantitative research methods, as well as their embeddedness within various research designs. Upon completion of the course, you'll have a good understanding of various quantitative methods commonly used in management research, and will have applied this knowledge to your own research project. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas: 

  • Research design
  • Experimental & quasi-experimental design
  • Survey design & analysis
  • Mediation & moderation
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Social network analysis
  • Meta-analysis

The objectives of this course are to increase your understanding of organisational research method and your sensitivity to the practical problems in conducting organisational research, as well as to apply organisational research methods to your own research projects and interests.

Individual Research Project

This module is designed for you to conduct individual research under the supervision of SMO faculty members. Research projects can consist of a thorough literature review related to a specific research question, an in-depth critique of published papers, or a specific application of a research methodology (such as a pilot study on the basis of limited data). Our goal is to familiarise you with the faculty members' current research and bring you closer to the frontier of knowledge. The module can prepare you for the individual research that you will undertake in PhD studies, and can indeed become the starting point of future PhD research.

Information Systems, Innovation & Organisational Change

This course focuses on some key theories and central debates that help us conceptualise the relationship between information systems, innovation, and strategic change. The main texts will draw from information systems, sociology, sociology of technology, and organisation theory. The course examines three key themes:

  • The role of new information technologies in processes of innovation and strategic change within and between industries
  • The role of information systems in enabling innovative work practices and the organisational issues involved in implementing and using technological innovations
  • The relationship between information technology and processes of globalisation

Organisations & Strategic Innovation

This course covers key theories in the field of strategy, innovation and organisations. We discuss the foundational theories, central debates and key readings that help us understand organisations and their strategies to survive and innovate through both technological and managerial innovations. Discussions include why managers adopt particular courses of action, how innovation is fostered, how are new markets created and how is strategy formulated. The field of innovation, strategy and organisations is inherently interdisciplinary, and so is this course. Accordingly, we not only discuss the underpinnings of research in innovation, strategy and organisations but also a host of related questions that have since become significant to understanding this body of research. The course is based around intensive seminar-based sessions. The format is group debates around contrasting perspectives related to the readings. The course enables you to critically interpret, analyse and problematise scholarly material and develop an understanding of how to make theoretical contributions in the field.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Consumer Behaviour (2018/19)

Consumer behaviour is the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different marketplace alternatives. Consumer behaviour is an important research area within almost all marketing departments at top business schools (and business schools in general), and is also closely related to other fields both within and outside of marketing (e.g., marketing strategy, organisational behaviour, experimental economics, behavioural finance and accounting, sociology, and experimental and social psychology). Thus, an understanding of consumer behaviour is useful to researchers in a number of disciplines, in addition to those planning an academic career in consumer behaviour.

The course mainly consists of seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers from various sub-areas of consumer behaviour, with a view to:

  • developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general
  • getting you to the point where you can review and write high quality papers in consumer behaviour
  • giving you an understanding of what it takes to publish consumer behaviour research in the top academic journals

Quantitative Marketing Models (2019/20)

This seminar-based course is an overview of quantitative modelling approaches to research on marketing problems. Three major areas are covered:

  • empirical modelling (econometrics)
  • analytical modelling (game theory/industrial organisation)
  • experimental economics/behavioural game theory

In each session you're required to read, analyse and comment on selected papers surrounding the key themes of that session. At least half of every session will be devoted to student presentations and group discussion. Having completed the course, you'll possess some basic knowledge of quantitative modelling in marketing. You'll also be able to leverage your course experience to develop an in-depth understanding of relevant topics of interest that'll help you pursue a research career in a business school.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Field Research in an Era of Grand Challenges (2018/19)

This course critically examines research that has been conducted in unconventional contexts and that investigates grand challenges, e.g. poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change. The major themes that are explored include gaining access to novel and unconventional research sites, field-level ethical and moral issues when investigating grand challenges, novel research methods, e.g. online/digital ethnography, the researcher-practitioner interface, theorising from data gathered from unconventional contexts, and publishing research conducted in novel and unconventional contexts and that investigates grand challenges.

Organisational Behaviour (2019/20)

This research seminar helps you understand a variety of cutting-edge themes and topics in organisational behaviour (OB). The overarching question we address is how these aspects relate to individual, group and organisational effectiveness. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas: 

  • Making a theoretical contribution to OB
  • Personality and values
  • Emotion and moods
  • Motivation
  • Interpersonal networks
  • Work groups and teams
  • Leadership
  • Organisational culture and climate

The objectives of this course are to familiarise you with classic and current articles that have shaped the field of organisational behaviour, and to prepare you to develop and conduct organisational behaviour research yourself.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Seminar in Strategy Process (2018/19)

This course provides a foundational survey of the key theories and empirical works that shape research on the process of strategic management - how strategic decisions are made and implemented. Building on behavioural and psychological theories, this course covers substantive research on the strategic processes such as strategic decision-making and implementation at the individual executives, groups (e.g. top management teams, middle managers) and the organisation as a whole (e.g. culture, corporate governance). The course involves active student participation in collective discussions and critiques of the seminal classic contributions as well as latest research in various topics on the content of strategic management. It also involves you developing your own research ideas and proposals that build on some of the topics and theories covered.

Seminar in Strategy Content (2019/20)

This course provides a foundational survey of the key theories and empirical works that shape research on the content of strategic management - the relationship between the different strategies and resource and capability bundles firms develop, strategic positions they create, and their financial performance and competitive advantage. Building on strategic management, economics-based, and organisational theories, this course covers substantive research on the antecedents and consequences of competitive and corporate strategies undertaken by firms in connection with the changes and disruptions in the environment. The course involves active student participation in group discussions and critiques of the seminal classic contributions as well as latest research in various topics on the content of strategic management. It also involves you developing your own research ideas and proposals that build on some of the topics and theories covered.

You are expected to determine your coursework plan at the start of the academic year, upon consultation with the programme director and the Marketing specialisation faculty. In particular, your coursework modules can deviate from the above list and can be selected from other research courses offered by CJBS or other University of Cambridge departments, upon approval by the programme director.

Closing dates

Deadline for applications: 28 Jun 2018
However we recommend you apply before December.

Cambridge Trusts funding deadlines are 11 October for Gates US applicants, 6 December for applicants from all other countries.

Cambridge MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations alumnus Charles Ebert explains what drew him to the programme.

Watch the video

Scholarships

There are a number of scholarships available to MPhil in SMO students, ranging from University of Cambridge and College scholarships to corporate research funding.

Find out more about scholarships