Modular format for working professionals
The programme is designed for full-time working professionals, so you don’t need to take a break from your career in order to study.
Teaching is conducted in four short intensive classroom modules taught at LSE campus in London, each module being 1-2 weeks in duration. You will need to take a maximum of six weeks out of the office to attend the teaching modules over the 12-month programme.
In between modules, you can continue to work full-time in your 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 your 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 #3 institution in the world for social science and management, and there is no better place to study social business.
In contrast to more traditional 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 critically evaluate the opportunities and challenges faced by the purpose-driven corporation.
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, strategy, and leadership. 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 resource gathering. They will consider the main techniques for planning and implementing activities to take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities, including customer journeys, sources of advantage, competencies, and the resource-based view of the firm. 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 firm, 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 sustainability, but also environmental sustainability and mission-driven social impact. Foundations of Social Business II specifically introduces students to three critical aspects of this interaction between the social business and its environment: social finance; marketing; and technology. The course looks in detail at the varieties of financing available to social ventures (impact finance, social finance, grant finance), and introduces emerging social finance mechanisms that are enabling innovative collaborations and resourcing to solve social problems. Social businesses must be able to analyse and respond to the markets in which they are situated, and the course explores the concepts and tools of marketing. Finally, no business, whether social or commercial, can ignore the emerging importance of technology as an opportunity and perhaps a threat. The course explores the use of technology, including AI, to analyse and to respond to complex task environments.
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.
The Purpose-Driven Corporation (new course for 2023-24)*
Social and environmental purpose is critical to the current business and leadership agenda. Large commercial sector companies are increasingly wrestling with challenges to their legitimacy and considering how to support senior staff in approaching questions of social impact, justice, harm mitigation and moral purpose – whether as corporate social responsibility strategies or more profoundly integrated within the core objectives of the firm. This course takes on the key debates in this field and provides a framework for action for senior managers. First, it considers the emerging landscape of the purpose-driven corporation and the different labels in this field, from the conscious corporation to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to the benefit corporation. Second, it explores theoretical propositions concerning, and the empirical evidence for, the concept of ‘shared value’. Third, it addresses the challenge for the modern firm of providing an account of its social performance, examining the theory and practice of accounting for environmental and social impact through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria and other systems of social accounting. Fourth, it examines the role of the various stakeholders in the purpose-driven corporation, including shareholders, managers, employees and consumers. Finally, the course explores how to integrate ESG management and a social and environmental focus into business practice.
The Altruistic Entrepreneur Project
This course crystallises the academic learnings from across the degree programme into an applied experience. It runs concurrently with course delivery across all modules. Students will work in groups, supported by faculty, to develop an entrepreneurial business proposal for social impact, moving through idea generation, initial design and formal proposal. The proposal may be a new organisation, or it may be an activity within an existing organisation with explicit social benefit. The project creates a space for real world application of students’ learning; development of the project concurrently with programme delivery enables substantive interaction between project work and core skills learning. The course mirrors the development of the programme overall by requiring students to address questions of context (and relation to state and private actors), questions of strategy and market development, financing, and reporting as well as personal leadership, communications and persuasion. The project will culminate in a presentation to external experts.
For the most up-to-date list of courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page.
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.