Modular format for working professionals
The programme is designed for full-time working professionals, so our students don’t need to take a break from their career in order to study.
Teaching is conducted in four short intensive classroom modules taught at LSE campus in London, each module 1-2 weeks in duration. Students will require a maximum of six weeks out of the office to attend the teaching modules over the 12-month programme duration.
In between modules, students continue to work full-time in their home location, with access to an online learning platform which will complement the in-class sessions and maximise intersession communication. The modules are designed to be directly applicable to students’ work, meaning that learning from the classroom can be brought back to make valuable developments and innovations in the workplace from day one.
LSE is ranked as the #2 institution in the world for social science and management, and there is no better place to study social business.
In contrast to more traditional business programmes such as MBAs, we provide core business skills complemented by a global view of the social, political and economic context for business, as well as training in the practical delivery and evaluation of effective solutions to social problems.
An integrated series of courses will provide you with the knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial mindset to pursue a career in social business. You will take six courses:
- The first two courses will introduce you to the political economy in which the social business operates, philosophical understandings of public benefits, and the definition and measurement of social impact.
- The middle two courses will teach the basics of building a social business, introducing rigorous skills and concepts of marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, organisational behaviour and resource mobilisation.
- In the final two courses, you will be invited to learn and practice applied skills – first, to use behavioural economics to design interventions for social impact, and second, to develop your skills as an altruistic leader.
While the courses are conceptually distinct, the modular structure is designed to teach several courses simultaneously, reflecting how the social and the business flow together in the real world. Some seminars will be taught by academics and expert practitioners in partnership, so that you can see how research is applied effectively in the workplace.
An altruistic entrepreneurship project runs alongside the courses for the duration of the programme. You will work in a group with fellow students to develop an entrepreneurial business proposal for social impact. The project is an opportunity for real world application of your learning and projects are designed with the potential for real-world implementation.
(* denotes a half unit)
The Hybrid Economy*
This course explores the economic and political context in which social businesses and social entrepreneurs work. Its starting-point is historic and contemporary failures by the state, market and voluntary sector to resolve persistent social problems. The course describes an emerging hybrid economy in which new organisational forms and new multi-actor collaborations blend outcomes, behaviours and structures from different sectors with the aim of achieving both social and financial returns. It examines the competitive advantage and disadvantage of the hybrid social business as a remedy for state and market failure. The course focuses specifically on motivation and incentive theory, exploring how we can design robust organisations and institutions that respond both to altruistic and more self-directed motivations. The course further explores the scope and nature of the political relationship between hybrid organisations and the state, and also ethical criticisms of the hybrid economy, focusing in particular on controversies about the introduction (or intrusion) of the market and business into the social or public realm.
Social Impact and Its Evaluation*
What is the public benefit? And how can I know that what I do makes any real impact on the public benefit? This innovative course sets out to support students in coming to their own resolutions of these dilemmas. Its first section challenges students to consider the nature of public benefit. It introduces different philosophical conceptions of the good, and discusses whose conception of the good is the more important: the actor or agent, the beneficiary, the government or the wider society. The second section introduces the concepts and techniques of impact measurement from the perspective of - and through specific examples of interest to – organisational leaders and policymakers and those who intend to commission social business and social enterprise interventions.
Foundations of Social Business I*
This course focuses on three critical aspects of social business: entrepreneurship, resource mobilisation, and accounting for social return. It includes within its coverage both existing organisations and start-ups as vehicles for social change, and ‘intrapreneurs’ as well as entrepreneurs. Students will be introduced to the main elements of entrepreneurial planning including the lean start-up, rapid prototyping, scaling and resourcegathering. They will explore the range of social business financing options, from the traditional, such as grant funding, to the emerging, such as venture philanthropy and impact investment. They will examine the complexity of accounting for multiple bottom lines, a process which highlights the challenge of managing for both purpose and profit.
Foundations of Social Business II*
The social business, as any other organisation, has to understand its environment and undertake consequent activities to enable sustainability and effectiveness; this challenge is complicated by the requirement to achieve not only profit or financial viability, but also environmental sustainability and mission-driven social impact. Foundations of Social Business I provides students with the core management skills of strategy and marketing to meet this complex challenge. It explores how at the heart of social entrepreneurship is the identification of an unjust equilibrium, a market failure, or a social problem; and how the response is innovative, market-like solutions. It introduces students to a rigorous process of opportunity evaluation, strategic analysis and market positioning, and relates these to the specific situation of social businesses. It examines strategy development where the imperative is not market capture but the reversal of market failure; it considers where corporate parallels apply and where they break down. The course will use real examples and relate the classroom discussion to students’ own experiences and projects.
The Altruistic Leader*
This course focuses on leadership, particularly within the context of a social business. It draws heavily from research in organisational behaviour, psychology, and sociology in order to examine the knowledge, skills and analytical capabilities needed to exercise leadership and influence. It attempts to strike a balance between theory and practice by providing a solid grounding in theory and research which students must apply to real life scenarios. The course examines topics such as: power and influence; organisational justice; motivation and rewards; leadership styles; cross-cultural management; organisational culture and change.
Applying Behavioural Economics for Social Impact: Design, Delivery and Policy*
This course teaches students how to improve the effectiveness of social interventions. It delivers insights from cutting edge research in psychology and economics, and asks students to use these insights to diagnose, design, deliver, and rigorously test products and services using the principles of behavioural economics and the methods of field experimentation. The starting-point is the principle of coproduction: outcomes in health, education and similar fields are not simply given to end-users, but are produced by end-users themselves, interacting with supply-side factors. Students learn how to diagnose end-user needs, preferences and behaviour. The course then explores how the psychological aspects of behaviour can be combined with the tools of economics to induce behaviour change and improve outcomes. Throughout there is emphasis upon the critical importance of effective measurement which informs improvements in diagnosis and design. The course concludes by exploring how research can be translated into policy action and impact. Real world Harvard Business School case study discussions form the basis of the classroom learning, which is highly interactive and practical.
Altruistic Entrepreneur Project
Throughout the programme students work in groups to develop an entrepreneurial business proposal for social impact, bringing the academic insights from across the degree into an applied experience. The course crystallises the learning from each module. It allows students, supported by experienced practitioners, to develop their own social business idea from concept to realisation. It develops the crucial arts of pitching for finance, of testing ideas as rapidly as possible, and of working in diverse and international groups. Involving radical ideas from design thinking, expert mentorship, and intense schedules, the project will culminate in a presentation to investors.
You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.
You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.
You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.