Core courses and electives

Core courses

These core courses have been selected due to their breadth and depth, to ensure you approach business situations with confidence and clarity.


Background: Financial statements are fundamental data for all organisations. In the last few years, financial reporting requirements have changed significantly across the globe, with many companies now publishing their annual accounts according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). An understanding of financial reporting using IFRS is a prerequisite for understanding the financial success and financial stability of these companies. While it is not necessary for you to become a technical accounting expert, some technical and institutional knowledge of accounting is essential for leadership roles in any organisation.

Objectives:  There are two primary objectives for the course. The first is to build your understanding of the subject of accounting. We can define accounting as the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information, with the purpose of informing decision-making relating to the financial performance and financial position of an organisation.  At the heart of accounting is a model for recording and presenting economic information, which is summarised in a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.  The starting point in understanding accounting is grasping how this model works. A deeper understanding of accounting then requires an appreciation of both the strengths and limitations of accounting data.  The second objective is to build your understanding of financial reporting more broadly, including areas such as financial statement analysis, corporate valuation models, investor relations, audit and governance.

This course will enable you to: 

  1. read and interpret financial statements, and understand the 'language of business' that is used in the business media and elsewhere
  2. perform financial analyses of companies, for example for the purposes of financial management and control, or for investment or credit decisions
  3. evaluate your own organisation’s reporting policy and strategy.

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In the current competitive environment, it is important to understand the relationships between different business factors, to forecast trends, to appreciate the risks arising from management actions, and to optimise investment strategies. Decisions are often taken under considerable uncertainty and time pressure. Therefore, managers need to be able to grasp the range of uncertainty rapidly and make rational decisions, which are both flexible and robust. This course aims to enhance your ability to apply modern decision technology and statistical methods to decision-making. It is a practical course, which uses Excel to illustrate how to apply the methodologies introduced. The course is multidisciplinary with links to accounting, economics, finance, marketing and operations management.

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Business Finance

Business Finance is concerned with measuring the value that investments create for investors, and with understanding the way that this value is shared amongst the various claimants on the firm’s profits. At the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of portfolio management and its relationship to the corporate cost of capital; they should be able to value new investment opportunities, and to price basic derivative securities; finally, they should understand some institutional features of the bond market and the market for initial public offerings.

The first part of the course lays the foundations for this discussion by examining the measurement of risk and return, and by understanding how investors can build portfolios so as optimally to trade risk off against return. This provides us with a benchmark for evaluating fresh investment opportunities. The second part of the course shows how this is accomplished, by valuing the cash flows that an investment is expected to yield over its life. The course then discusses the various sources of funds, and the ways that financing patterns might affect the value of an underlying investment. Finally, the course discusses the fixed income market, derivative securities, risk management, the separation of ownership and control, and the market for initial public offerings.

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Firms and Markets

The first part of the Firms and Markets course applies the principles of microeconomics to business decisions. Microeconomics studies the behaviour and interaction of producers, consumers and other economic agents. In this course we will focus on the choices of firms and the implications for industry dynamics. The course covers the building blocks of supply and demand, competition and monopoly. In addition, we discuss the important managerial topics such as pricing methods, strategic interaction between firms and auction design. Students without any economics are recommended to invest a substantial amount of time ensuring that they have grasped this basic material.

In addition to mastering the basics of microeconomics, students will learn how to use these ideas to address managerial problems. During the course students will analyze a number of case studies, as well as conduct an in-depth industry study.

The second part of the Firms and Markets course is an application of the principles of microeconomics, to macroeconomic problems: the analysis of the national and the global economy, with special emphasis on the role of governments and central banks. The teaching will assume that, by now, students have a solid base in microeconomics, as taught in the first part of the course. By the end of the course we expect that students will be able to understand the policy debate, critically assess the various arguments, and understand the implication of policy to business decisions. The teaching will be both analytical and applied.

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Marketing plays a critical strategic role in all firms. The marketing function has responsibility for generating and growing demand for a firm’s brands, products, and services in the marketplace in a manner that delivers superior value to both the firm and its customers. This is all the more important in today’s technology-enabled, fast-paced, always-on and on-demand market environment where customers have increasingly high expectations of firms and firms in many established industries face new competitive threats from innovative and radically new business models. Moreover, due to these market conditions and new technologies, marketing has become an increasingly digital and technology-enabled field. Thus, the future of marketing looks very different.

This course provides an in-depth introduction to contemporary marketing, with a focus on what matters for the future of marketing. Students will be taken through key stages of developing a value-creating marketing strategy and cover topics such as market analysis, consumer behaviour, digital marketing, customer value analysis, product development and innovation, social media marketing, and retail marketing.

The course’s ultimate aim is twofold. First, to instil in students 'marketing thinking', which emphasises a customer-centric view of business because delivering superior value to customers increases long-run firm value. Second, to equip students with future-oriented marketing knowledge that will prepare them as the business leaders of the future. The specific course objectives are:

  • Understand what marketing is and why it is a critically important part of any business
  • Appreciate changes that have taken place both in the marketplace (eg with consumer behaviour) and in marketing practice (eg due to technology and digital marketing), and what these changes imply for marketing strategizing)
  • Critically analyse a firm’s marketing actions, identify problems, recommend feasible improvements, and develop a strategic marketing plan
  • Know fundamental principles of marketing, including segmentation, targeting, positioning, and customer value
  • Appreciate the various aspects of the marketing process (eg customer insights/research, product launches, innovation and product development, retail, digital, social media) and the key considerations for each one.

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Organisational Behaviour

Leading individuals, teams and organisations is the central task of management and critical to performance, whether you are in a start-up, global corporation, public service or social enterprise. This significance is constantly growing as an increasingly complex and volatile economic and geo-political context calls for strong, responsible leadership. Yet, leadership is as difficult as it is critical, thanks to the complexities of human nature and the challenges that arise when people work together.

We have designed this course to help you meet these challenges in three ways. It will help you:

  • understand what drives yourself – and others – to develop an effective, personal leadership style
  • apply and evaluate frameworks for managing individual, team, and organisational performance
  • reflect on these leadership frameworks and skills in the context of your own experience

These aims are immediately relevant for a lot of activities and assessments during the MBA, such as work in your study teams, group assignments, the Entrepreneurship Project, to name but a few. In short, the better you understand yourself, the team members around you, and the best ways of getting the most out of everyone, the more fruitful your year at Oxford Saïd will be. Beyond ‘unlocking’ value in the MBA itself, though, Organisational Behaviour will prepare you for your next management challenge, and many more after that. To prepare you for that journey, the course is structured around the organisational lifecycle from ‘start-up’ to ‘grown-up’ with a strong focus on your personal leadership development.

The course does not attempt to give you a definitive set of tools and policies. There is seldom a single ‘right’ answer to the complex organisational questions that confront executives in their day-to-day work. There are, however, plenty of wrong answers. It is our aim to sharpen your sense for what works when. 

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Why are some organisations more successful than others? This is the fundamental question of strategy.  This course will help students understand the origins and causes of variation in organisational performance. We examine strategy for the single-business organisation (competitive strategy) and the multi-business organisation (corporate strategy), recognizing the range of criteria for defining ‘success’.  We will also cover some of the basics of global strategy and innovation. The course extends students’ existing background and awareness of the problems involved in managing an organisation by providing readings, analytical tools and case discussion of fundamental strategy issues.

Overall, the course aims to help students develop the following skills:

  1. The ability to apply strategy theory and frameworks critically to the analysis and diagnosis of strategy problems.
  2. An understanding of strategic options in a variety of contexts, including single-business, multi-business, non-business and global contexts.
  3. The capacity to formulate and defend arguments in support of strategy proposals, using theory and evidence.

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Technology and Operations Management

The operations function of the firm covers all aspects related to the delivery of the product or service the firm offers; it not only determines the cost base, it also generally accounts for the largest proportion of working capital requirements, and determines quality and service level for the customer.

This course will introduce the key concepts of operations and process management, develop understanding of their relevance to organisational effectiveness, and show how operations can nurtured as a source of ongoing competitive advantage. We will cover the main concepts of process improvement, including Lean Thinking and Quality Management, and review these in the context of the wide firm.

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the importance of operations management for manufacturing, service, and not-for-profit organizations;
  2. Apply operations management ideas and techniques to identifying, analyzing, managing, and designing or improving processes and systems;
  3. Understand the subject from the various perspectives of the CEO, the entrepreneur, the investor, the customer, and the consultant.
  4. Describe how operations management can be used to develop strategic advantage

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Choose from a wide range of electives, allowing you to truly focus on topics that are specific to meeting your career goals.

The list below is an example of electives offered to previous MBA cohorts. Please note all details are subject to change.

Applications of Game Theory

Game theory is central to the toolkit of any successful business school graduate. It is a powerful component of the armoury in analyses and resolution of business-oriented problems, rather than an esoteric preserve of mathematically-minded social scientists. It also helps to develop a rigorous attitude in approaches to problem-solving matters.

This elective is intended to attract those members of the MBA student community interested in developing a more thoroughgoing understanding of game theoretic principles, and more broadly than currently on offer, to assist in their systematic deployment in analyses of business cases. 

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Asset Management

This elective covers foundation principles of Asset Management (briefly) and modern topics in Asset Management.

We study in details three types of assets: Mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and hedge funds. These assets are those that are most debated nowadays and of foremost importance in practice. Most of the material is however applicable to almost all of the other asset classes. 

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Business in China

China is one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing business environments in the world today. The size of the domestic marketplace makes it a magnet for foreign business, but it has proven time and again to be an immensely difficult place in which to do business. It is a country in which the business landscape is in a constant state of flux; it is simultaneously undergoing an economic, legal, social and technological transformation. The purpose of this course is to provide a framework for understanding these changes and develop the tools needed to do business in this challenging environment. It is useful not only for those interested in doing business in China, but also for those who are interested in understanding one of the most important drivers of the global economy.

Each week of the course will address a major component of China’s business environment from both a foundational perspective and from a practical perspective. Topics will include the historical relationship between China and foreign business, the relationships between the government and business, the process of economic reform and development, the challenge of reaching the Chinese consumer, the legal context and the competitive challenge that is emerging from China. In each week the readings will include background readings that provide context, readings that focus on the lessons for foreign business and concrete case studies. The intent is to provide you with a rich understanding of today’s China and the knowledge needed to do business in China.

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Collaborative Economy

The objectives of the course are to:

  1. Understand how the collaborative economy (also commonly referred to as the ‘sharing economy’) is disrupting business models across sectors, changing how we live, work, bank, travel, learn and consume
  2. Learn about how the best known start-ups in the space, namely Airbnb and Uber, have scaled so fast, and understand the challenges they face in taking on legacy industries
  3. Understand the next wave of ventures such as The Food Assembly, Transferwise and UpCounsel, and how they apply collaborative principles in ways that are set to change industries from food to banking to professional services
  4. Explore the impact the collaborative economy has on the foundations of society; including the future of work, how we think about trust, and the design of regulatory structures
  5. Discuss the challenges incumbents face in terms of internal capabilities and culture that may hold them back in the collaborative era and discuss how might they respond
  6. Acquire practical knowledge of the unique challenges and opportunities of building start-ups in the space

This course pairs academic readings, cases (including Airbnb) and frameworks with pragmatic, real-time input from successful entrepreneurs around the world. Monday classes will be focused on understanding key principles that underpin the collaborative economy and will be explored through readings, visualized concepts, debates and video material. Wednesday classes will be focused on practical learning on the unique opportunities and challenges of building businesses in the collaborative economy. In each Tuesday class, we’ll be joined by a guest entrepreneur to draw lessons from how they have built their own ventures. 

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Corporate Turnaround & Business Transformation

In this course we will be considering the ways in which corporations and public sector organisations attempt to change when they hit trouble. We will look at both successful and unsuccessful cases, and examples from large and small organisations. We begin by thinking about what leads to corporate difficulties in the first place, and consider the way in which turnaround can be designed, enacted and sustained. This is a field in which there are no ‘magic bullets’, but we hope the material covered will help develop your thinking and help you to reflect on your own experiences.

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Corporate Valuation

Managers of firms have many responsibilities. A critical one is ensuring that the firm makes appropriate investment and financial decisions. This course focuses on how to make good decisions. While the course deals with the mechanics of corporate valuation, it is also a course on how to create (and destroy) corporate value.

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Digital & Social Media Strategy

Digital/social platforms present firms with enormous opportunities for creating and enhancing value for both themselves and stakeholders such as customers. How these communications technologies can – and should – be used for strategic value-generating purposes, however, is not straightforward. This course grapples with this challenge, with the primary aim being to help students understand how to unlock the value in digital/social platforms across a variety of business contexts and for a number of markedly different purposes. The role that digital/social platforms can play goes well beyond marketing, or as a new vehicle for (or substitute to) advertising. Thus, this is not, strictly speaking, a “marketing” course. Rather, it is a course about how digital and social media can be used to enhance business value.

By successfully completing this course, students will be well versed in a variety of facets of how digital/social platforms can be used smartly to strategically enhance firm and customer value. Students should also be able to develop a strong digital/social business strategy based on unlocking the value in the interactions enabled by digital/social platforms in the marketplace. Specifically, after completing this course students should be able to do the following:

  • Understand what how established and newer type of digital and social media platforms are impacting how business is done
  • Understand key principles of “social interactivity” in digital/social contexts, as well as the concept of 'always-on connected customers' from psychological and sociological perspectives, and how these principles can be leveraged for strategic value-enhancing purposes
  • Know more about the main digital/social platforms and tools that can be used in business and some best practices
  • See how digital/social platforms can add value beyond marketing or advertising purposes and be able to think innovatively about how digital/social platforms, based on interactivity and connectivity, can be applied to a variety of business contexts and functions
  • Develop a strong, coherent, detailed digital/social media strategy

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International Elective

Digital Transformation of Marketing, Media, and Advertising

The objective of this course is to learn about digital transformation that is occurring in three interrelated industries: marketing, media, and advertising. These industries have been undergoing transformative change over the last decade, and the pace of change, led by technological innovations and associated shifts in consumer and firm behaviours, is not slowing down – if anything, it is accelerating. This course examines what these changes are, which are important, and, critically, considers how they are playing out in companies within these industries. The overarching goal of this course is to gain insights into which “disruptions” matter, what their impacts are, and how they create opportunities for the future.

This course runs in New York City and students will visit companies within the marketing, media, and advertising industries to hear from seasoned executives and to discuss and debate digital transformation issues with them. New York is the global heart of these industries, and also is home to many innovative players in the fast-growing “marketing technology” (mar-tech) and “advertising technology” (ad-tech) ecosystems, which are driving much of the digital disruption and transformation in these industries. Thus, the best way to study this is to go to where a large concentration of firms grappling with – and influencing – these transformations are located.

This course is designed for everyone on the MBA programme. It is not purely a “marketing” course because the transformative disruptions in these industries have far-reaching consequences for all facets of business. In the past, this course has attracted students with interests in marketing, media, advertising, technology, entrepreneurship, consulting, finance, investing, and more.

The learning outcomes are as follows:

  1. Have a practical understanding of digital transformation in marketing, media, and advertising industries.
  2. Know how world-leading companies are digitally transforming all aspects of their businesses.
  3. Have an understanding of how to be a transformative leader in a world where being “digital first” is fast becoming a strategic imperative.
  4. Critically assess and evaluate what companies are doing with respect to digital transformation.
  5. Understand beyond a superficial level what some important issues are in the marketing, media and advertising worlds when it comes to new technology.

The course is taught and facilitated by Professor Andrew Stephen and Dr Rhonda Hadi. All sessions will take place in New York during April 2019 (exact dates to be confirmed). The vast majority of sessions will be with companies, and will include a mix of presentations by executives, discussions/Q&A, and interactive group work

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Doing Business in Africa

Africa continues to grow. Even as several countries on the continent suffer the economic effects of declines in commodities prices, others remain among the fastest-growing economies in the world. In 2018 - even as growth rates around the world slowed - Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia grew at nearly 8%. More than a dozen countries in Africa grew better than 5% in 2018. In some ways this growth story is an extremely optimistic one. A rising African middle class has demonstrated a taste for consumer goods; new technologies are creating rapid innovative shifts; and Africa’s population—currently more than a billion people—is booming and overwhelmingly young at a time when populations in other regions are shrinking and aging.

Yet, as recent economic shocks have demonstrated, Africa’s overall trajectory is far from fixed. Many economies on the continent continue to rely heavily on particular commodities such as oil, and in several places economic reform and development has proved frustratingly slow. The business and investment climates in African countries remain complicated, with inadequate institutions, poor infrastructure, rising inequality, and governments that continue to play a large and sometimes unpredictable role in the economy. The combination of high population growth, high formal sector unemployment, and poor investment in education threatens to make the continent’s burgeoning population a liability, rather than a boon, to development. Across the continent the scars of troubled histories, decades of mismanagement, and unresolved political questions loom large.

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of some of the key challenges and opportunities that managers, investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers face on the continent, as well as to offer tools to analyse this complicated environment. The course will, among other things, use a systematic approach to analyse and address some of the most common challenges managers face in Africa: obtaining financing; managing human capital; dealing with infrastructural and institutional inadequacies; finding and analysing data; and understanding the political context. The objective is not only to help students see new opportunities, but to provide them with models and strategies for managing the challenges created by this complex environment.

The course is built around a set of case studies that highlight the on-the-ground experiences of firms and organizations currently doing business in Africa. These cases provide a granular picture of the business environment in key countries, as well as generalizable lessons and conclusions that are broadly applicable across the continent. The course is delivered by Prof. Catherine Duggan.

Entrepreneurial Finance

The last decade has witnessed an explosion of entrepreneurial activity world-wide. As the interest in starting business continues to grow, especially among the younger generations, so does the interest in experimenting with alternative financing models. Whilst he second half of the 20th century witnessed the rise of the US venture capital industry, the 21st century has brought about a proliferation of investment models globally.

In this class students will learn the conceptual foundations for understanding main challenges of financing entrepreneurs, sometimes taking the investors’ and sometimes the entrepreneurs’ perspectives. Students will become familiar with the terminology and institutional background of the industry, and learn about the underlying economic issues. While this course does not aim to provide a comprehensive treatment of financial valuation techniques, it will discuss many of the financial trade-offs that arise in the context of private investment deals, both in terms of valuation and contractual structures. It will also relate these financial trade-offs to the broader strategic decisions made by entrepreneurs and investors. The course is primarily based on a mix of case studies, lectures and a variety of interactive exercises.

The main purpose of this course is to:

  1. Introduce students to the topics of entrepreneurial finance
  2. Expose students to the variety of challenges faced by different types of entrepreneurs, in the process of seeking funding for their entrepreneurial ventures
  3. Challenge students to understand the alternative ways that different investors with different investment models use for sourcing deals, writing contracts or managing portfolios of entrepreneurial investments
  4. Integrate theoretical and applied perspectives for understanding more deeply the practice and structures of entrepreneurial finance

The course is designed for a variety of student interests. It directly addresses the concerns of students wanting to become entrepreneurs in the near or more distant future. It provides tools to those students who want to be active on the investing side, such as working for accelerators, angel groups, venture capital firms or corporate venture organizations. It will also be useful to anyone who expects to be interacting with entrepreneurs and private equity investors, be it as suppliers, accountants, strategic partners, consultants, customers or other. Finally, this course is meant for anybody with a curious mind and a willingness to combine serious analysis with creative thinking.

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Financial Crises and Risk Management

The course will develop the analytical tools necessary to understand crisis prevention and management, and risk management. The properties and characteristics of risk management techniques will be analysed and related to corporate and sovereign default risk, hedging and trading strategies, regulation and assessing financial stability and systemic risk. Emphasis will be put on applying these techniques on problems emerging in the marketplace.

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Financial Market Trading

In this course you will:

  1. Understand financial market products, dynamics and key participants in the context of trading a securities portfolio
  2. Explore different trading styles, investor bases and risk parameters
  3. Design and build an investment portfolio with cash securities and apply leverage and fees
  4. Identify 3 different trade strategies using derivatives (curve trade, relative value trade and options trade)
  5. Understand the moral hazard risk in financial markets

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International Elective

Fintech: Present and Future: London

The objective of this course is to learn how Fintech is changing areas such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and even asset management. It will look into how the established financial firms will be rethinking their strategies and how their structures fit within this new market environment. Building on our knowledge of the finance, technology and entrepreneurship space, and the relevant courses e.g. Entrepreneurial finance, Entrepreneurship project, Strategy and Innovation, etc. the course will focus on the impact of technology: how finance is currently run and what is changing the way companies do business. The disruptive technologies are undeniably altering how small companies and consumers interact and do business, as well as how companies market their products and services, and cultivate long-term relationships with their clients. The overarching goal of this course is to gain insights into what these “disruptions” are, how consumers and companies are responding, and where opportunities lie for the future.

This course is a four-day field trip to London. London is currently leading the way in financial services and houses a fast-growing technology entrepreneur community working in these industries. The best way to learn how things are changing and to develop skills in evaluating new opportunities and challenges is to be where the action is, and to meet business leaders and entrepreneurs who are doing it. The course uses a mixture of discussions, readings, exercises, and, most importantly, meeting companies and executives who are facing new challenges in digital and social marketing on a daily basis.

Course objectives:

  • Be equipped to understand and experience innovation in the financial sector.
  • Learn first-hand how emerging technologies are disrupting existing marketplaces and financial services.
  • Gain insights from business leaders and entrepreneurs about how they are responding to challenges associated with digital transformation in the industry.
  • Learn more about career paths in financial services and build their professional network.

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Global Strategy

The principal aim of this course is to provide managers and entrepreneurs the tools needed to evaluate the opportunities and risks of global expansion and to successfully implement a global strategy. Although levels of global economic integration have increased dramatically over the last three decades, the global economy is far from being perfectly integrated, and the differences between national markets remain critically important. These differences are often the result of non-market factors (such as culture, politics, regulations, and institutional structures) and success in a global economy requires managers to consider both the market and non-market environments in which firms function. Any firm exploring the potential of global markets must consider the ways that the global economy is being shaped by local, state, regional and international actors and the technological, political, and social developments that are likely to define their future. 

Building on the first eight weeks of the core Strategy course, Part I of Global Strategy will provide cognitive frameworks for assessing and implementing a global strategy, both in evaluating whether or not to expand globally and addressing the organizational challenges of implementing strategies across international borders. In Part II we apply these key concepts to challenges from the fastest growing and arguably most challenging part of the global economy—emerging markets. Finally, in Part III we consider the role for corporate diplomacy in an increasingly volatile global environment. We will learn the basics of scenario planning, consider state-owned enterprises and privatization, and tackle the reputational challenges for companies operating in multiple, possibly conflicting regulatory regimes. The future business leaders the tools needed to evaluate the opportunities and risks of global expansion and to successfully implement a global strategy. 

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International Elective

Growth Prospects and Opportunities for Business in Africa

The objective of this course is to learn about what the growth prospects in Africa are and what business opportunities Africa presents. The course will also explore the long-term drivers of change in Africa, including the physical, human, global, technological, and institutional and private sector influences. The course is an opportunity for those with an interest in Africa to increase their understanding of how business operates on the continent and access professional and personal resources.
The overarching aim of this course is to gain insights into which opportunities exist on the continent, what challenges may impact those opportunities, and understand where future growth will come from.

The learning outcomes are as follows:

  1. Assessing Africa’s growth performance and prospects over the next 50 years
  2. Develop an understanding of service delivery, technology and doing business in Africa
  3. What is the infrastructure gap, financing and business opportunities in Africa
  4. Understanding the dynamics of Africa’s middleclass, and the opportunities they offer
  5. Gain insight into the regional and global integration of markets in Africa and the economic complexity
  6. The role and impact of inclusive business and BEE in South Africa
  7. Know what the business opportunities are in financing infrastructure

The course is taught and facilitated by Professor Catherine Duggan, and takes place during the Easter break in an African country. Many of the sessions will include guest speakers and company visits. The session will include a mix of presentations, discussions/Q&A, and interactive group work.

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Leadership: Perspectives from the Humanities

Humanities scholars have been thinking about leadership for nearly 3,000 years; we can probably learn a thing or two from them. And Oxford has been a centre for the study of the humanities for nearly 900 years, so there are few better places to draw on the richness and depth of scholarship into how leadership works. The work of historians, philosophers, classicists, as well as the study of literature and artefacts from diverse cultures and traditions, can shed light on most challenges that concern business school students, in ways that will complement other courses. Unique to Oxford, this elective’s course leaders and the University’s humanities scholars will offer insights into the nature of leadership in different contexts.

Eight sessions, each lead by a different humanities subject expert will be grouped into four modules:


  • The world novel and human rights: Postcolonial literature
  • Shakespeare’s Coriolanus on page, stage and film


  • Christopher Wren in Oxford
  • China’s past, present and future


  • Philosophy of mind: Impediments to free choice
  • Moral philosophy: Issues for the ethical leader


  • Leading a performance: choral conducting
  • Persuading your audience: rhetoric and speech making

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Lean Six Sigma

This elective will teach you the fundamentals and methods of application for Lean Six Sigma, a collaborative method to improve operational performance. It combines lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate the eight kinds of waste, defects, Over-Production, Waiting, Non-Utilised Talent Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra-Processing, Lean Six Sigma not only reduces process defects and waste, but also provides a framework for overall organisational culture change.

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Leveraging the Power of Networks

The idea of a network provides a powerful concept that can give us valuable insights into the context in which businesses operate. Individuals, organisations, and other institutional actors are all embedded in a complex web of relationships, which determine access to resources, information, and markets. The success of actors is often shaped by the networks that they belong to, and the position that they occupy in those networks. Similarly, the performance of groups and organisations frequently can be related to the overall pattern of ties between their constituent actors. Hence, both from the perspective of the individual actor and that of the organisations that they belong to, considerable advantage can be gained from mapping and understanding the structure of these networks.

Tools of network analysis, grounded both in the well-established tradition of social network analysis and the new field of network science, provide a large toolkit of quantitative techniques that allow the behaviour and performance of actors to be understood in terms of the structure of relationships to other actors, as well as individual actor attributes. Network methods have also experienced rapid growth in recent years because the increasing use of new information and communication technology (ICT) such as mobile payment technologies, instant messaging, and online social networks to mediate interactions and transactions between individuals and organisations gives rise to large-scale network data. The analysis of these datasets requires novel techniques, but holds the promise of delivering a far better understanding of how interactions between actors can give rise to collective outcomes that would otherwise be difficult to anticipate. Concrete practical examples of real-world networks that will be covered in the course include communication and knowledge networks within organisations, innovation networks connecting different organisations, financial and ownership networks, online social networks and supply networks in manufacturing.

The objective of the course is to provide an understanding of how network methods can generate novel insights, when and where they are likely to be most useful and how they can inform managerial decision-making. 

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Marketing Analytics

Forecasting customer behaviour is a critically important activity for firms. Recent advances in statistics have led to a number of analytical methods that are not only effective in explaining and predicting patterns in customer behaviour, but are also easy to implement by a practicing manager. These models use the basic building blocks from probability theory to offer behaviourally plausible perspectives on what people buy, when they buy it, and how much they buy. As more customer-focused data becomes available, the specification and interpretation of these models can become a regular part of the sophisticated manager’s toolkit.

The principal focus of this course is on inferring unobserved “types” of customers, and using these inferences to predict what they will do in the future. This is a 'hands-on' course, in which students learn to apply probability models to a wide variety of business applications, such as forecasting adoption of new products, analysing media usage, targeting marketing activities, and predicting financial performance. Students will not only learn how to use these models effectively, but also why they work so much better than older, more established statistical tools. The emphasis is on developing good modelling technique, as opposed to manipulating large datasets. This experience creates a more general understanding of how to work with real data, and empowers students to examine alternative interpretations of data with an informed and critical eye.

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Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring

This elective will examine mergers and acquisitions and the restructuring process. The purpose is to give you real insights into the takeover process its motives, strategy, regulation, integration, valuation, tactics, deal making, shareholder engagement and relationship to ownership around the world. The course will evaluate the success and failure of deals and establish what makes for success

The course will comprise case studies, lectures and each week there will be practitioner presentations by senior people from Deutsche Bank, Hermes, Legal & General, McKinsey, Rothschild and Slaughter & May.

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Negotiations: Strategy and Practice

This popular, practical elective teaches the principles of negotiation and how to improve your technique. Through simulations you will learn how to develop skills across different negotiation experiences and how to build your own personal style and capabilities.

Topics include:

  • Claiming value
  • Creating value
  • Individual style
  • Multi-issue negotiations
  • Multi-party negotiations
  • Gender
  • Coalitions
  • National culture

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Political Economy for Business Leaders

This elective is designed to provide students with an understanding of:

  • economic data and how to interpret it
  • the link between economics and politics
  • the influence of politics on business and the economy
  • how to influence politics

You will learn the rules of economy, including what is GDP, how it is calculated, what its shortcomings and benefits are, and how to predict the future.

You will also learn the importance of politics and how to “play the game”, including how policy is formed, how to influence it, and why you don’t have to pay to play.

The course incorporates extensive use of case studies and real world examples to investigate:

  • how governments form policy
  • who needs to be influenced and when
  • why policies change (and don’t change)
  • why money isn’t a prerequisite for policy debate

The course is relevant to investment bankers, management consultants, business managers, professionals, entrepreneurs, NGO employees and social entrepreneurs.

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Private Equity

The private equity course opens up one of the more complex areas of financial management. Private equity investments are illiquid and hard to value and those who manage them often become engaged in the decision-making of the companies involved, all of which makes practical skills as important as theoretical knowledge.

Assessed through four case studies, two spreadsheet assignments and a group presentation, the course demands that students constantly apply the material they have been presented.

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Project Management

In this course, we will have a strong focus on the strategic. Though we will often delve in to project management tools and fundamentals, it will always be with the goal of developing big-picture managerial intuition—about a project’s role in the larger strategic aims of the organization; about how the project fits with other projects; about maintaining awareness of the customer; about navigating uncertainty; among many others. While every project has a unique context, there are important commonalities that span most projects. It is these commonalities that permit us to explore project management generally. In this course we will examine a range of contexts – e.g., outsourcing, product development, geographic expansion, construction, merger integration – in order to develop general capability in managing projects and the people who manage them.

The objective of this course is to prepare students so that they have the ability to effectively manage projects and groups of projects. The goal is to equip individuals across any career concentration, rather than extend the expertise of project-management specialists. We will cover both quantitative and qualitative aspects of project management.

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Real Estate

The Real Estate elective at Saïd Business School links the world of investment theory and analysis to the business of real estate investment and finance. The academic basis of the elective is in financial economics and the content focus is international. Our objective is to provide an insight into this global industry and provide foundation knowledge and analytical skills to support a career that focuses on or touches real estate.

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Reputation and Leadership

The principal aim of this course is to provide students with an assessment of how reputations are created, sustained, destroyed and rebuilt. Over the last decade, reputation has become one of the top 10 risks evaluated by senior management. Companies that enjoy strong reputations gain competitive advantage in labour markets, financial markets, consumer propositions and supply chain effectiveness. Individuals with good reputations get paid more, and have more successful careers. Equally clear is the fact that individuals and companies that fail to understand reputation operate with a significant handicap in their chosen fields. Yet reputation is not the property of the individual or the corporation; by definition it consists of the perceptions held by others. This course aims to equip students with an understanding of how they as individuals and as managers should consider and engage with their reputations to achieve success in business.

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Rethinking Business

Commercial activity today engages renewed societal challenges and opportunities, that rethink the standard institutions of Western markets, ownership and interests. Indeed it was a relatively brief historical century, when ‘business’ stood apart from the social in all its institutional, cultural and economic complexity. Today we experience the emergence of Capitalism 3.0 and a variety of experiments in business models, value creation through networks, rise of organizer consumer movements, innovation in venture finance and post-2008 basic challenges to the institutional foundations of economics, finance and commerce. Rethinking Business explores these new models of business in the context of the shifting linkages between markets, government and communities.

These changing configurations establish different conditions for value creation, for innovation and for successful enterprise; they are also associated with alternative forms of human purpose, governance and social provision.

Specific topics include:

  • comparative capitalisms
  • social enterprise
  • alternative economies, innovation and social movements
  • rethinking governance and policy
  • promising, emerging exemplar cases (off-grid energy, innovation finance, frugal innovation)

As a result, the academic approach will be multi-disciplinary with applied examples and cases from across the world as well as several learning formats and classroom activities.

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Social Finance

The objective of this course is to explore the nature and range of the global markets for capital for social enterprises and socially motivated businesses. The academic approach will be multi-disciplinary, touching on quantitative financial analysis, strategy, organisational behaviour and social and ethical considerations.

The course takes the form of lectures, discussions and case studies. As well as academic analysis and framing of the issues the course includes a range of guest speakers from relevant organizations. Students will complete the class knowing the issues, debates and techniques in this field, but also the key “movers and shakers” and the firms and organisations they have built or represent.

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Strategy & Innovation

Strategy & Innovation (S&I) focuses on the interface of nascent markets, organisational capabilities for innovation, and the strategic management of emerging technologies. The class is not about a specific kind of technology or industry, nor is it only about commercial innovation. The course design and content welcomes students from a broad range of skill sets, career aspirations, and professional expertise who are interested in strategic management in fast-moving markets: People who want to start entrepreneurial ventures, who are interested in setting strategy in dynamic markets, who want to promote social and technology innovation, who will consult, and/or who will work in VC or PE.

The S&I course introduces concepts and tools for assessing, analysing, and intervening in entrepreneurial and growth markets and in emerging industry spaces. The focus is on linking concepts with actionable skills. The reading and discussion grapple with fundamental questions: 

  • Why do successful incumbent firms often struggle or even fail over time? 
  • What is the impact of technological innovation on market dynamics?
  • What to build, develop and curate nascent markets?
  • How to analyse the (policy) arc from invention to impact?
  • How to identify and improve the firm innovation system? 
  • How do challenger firms and technologies disrupt incumbent ecosystems?
  • What can models of innovation offer for emerging services and digital industries?

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Supply Chain Management

The aim of this course is for students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key areas of supply chain management: the management of supplier relations, the control of information and material flows to avoid dynamic distortions, and the prevention and recovery from supply chain disruptions and breakdowns.

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The Nature of the Corporation

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the role of the corporation in contemporary society and the promotion of responsible business. 

The corporation is one of the most important institutions in our lives. It clothes, feeds and houses us. It employs us and invests our savings. It is the source of economic prosperity and the growth of nations around the world. It is central to business school education and your future careers. 

This course brings together material from many different parts of the MBA and MFE programmes to give students a thorough understanding of the purpose, objectives, ownership, governance, financing and problems confronting the corporation. Each week there will be presentations by some of the most inspirational leaders in business.

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