University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business
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MBA Structure


The MBA curriculum is structured around 15 core courses. These are designed to map the contextual landscape in which businesses operate, give students a solid grasp of the fundamentals of management, build their business acumen and offer integrative practice opportunities. Course designs are updated and adapted annually, therefore the topics listed for each course can be considered as a guideline of what students can expect to be covered on each course.

1. Organisations, Leadership and Values

This course seeks to introduce students to leadership theories, organisational leadership and the complexity of a number of leadership and managerial situations and to give insight into the underlying processes. The course invites students to develop a critical attitude towards leadership theories and practices. It aims to develop a thorough understanding of the relationships between organisations, people, and leadership.

2. Markets in Emerging Countries

The course provides an in-depth analysis of markets from various perspectives, focusing on how they differ within emerging and developing countries.

3. Business, Government and Society

During this course students will be familiarised with a variety of economic, social, environmental and political trends and developments that may impact either directly or indirectly on the strategy and operations of businesses in an emerging market economy such as South Africa. They will also be challenged to consider the role and some of the current responses of the business community to these trends.

4. Leadership and Personal Development

The course is intended to be a catalyst for personal reflection and insight into processes and concepts critical for completing the MBA successfully, as well as to provide a platform for future work and personal success.

5. Economics for Business

The economy is the environment of business. Thus the purpose of the course is to outline the key principles of economics that will be of use to students in their working lives. This course is a principles course in micro and macroeconomics.

6. Accounting

The Accounting course focuses on introducing MBA students to the language of accounting and providing students with the ability to read, interpret and understand financial statements.

7. Organisational Behaviour and People Management

The OBPM course will provide an overall organisational approach to people management strategies and covers three main themes:

  1. The Individual in the organisation
  2. High performance work practice
  3. Leading and managing people

8. Operations Management

This course aims to equip students with the ability to describe and analyse operations and to understand the key operations decision areas with respect to process, capacity, inventory, workforce, quality and measurement.

9. Finance

The MBA Finance course focusses on both theory and practice at a corporate and investor level. This course will enable students to develop an understanding of the practical aspects of finance.

10. Marketing

This course provides students with an overview of the marketing function and is designed to give students confidence in their ability to apply marketing theory in business practice.

11. Social Innovation Entrepreneuring

This course offers MBA students an introduction to the rapidly emerging field of social innovation. While there are many emerging perspectives on social innovation, most generally a social innovation can be understood as an intentional, positive, creative shift in systemic social-ecological patterns.

12. Strategy

The course aims to introduce students to the fundamental principles and concepts of strategic management. It serves as an opportunity to develop their skills for strategic thinking and analysis. Students learn about business strategy and corporate strategy formulation relevant to the macro-environmental industry and competitive drivers facing the organisation, as well as the role that purpose, resources and capabilities play in strategy formation and action. An important aim is that the student develops rigour and confidence in their own ability to think and work in a strategic context.

13. Business Model Innovation Lab

The Business Model Innovation Lab will provide students with the opportunity to critically explore, through the combined use of integrative and systems thinking, business models and innovation. In resonance with the broader vision of the GSB, this course uses the emerging market context as the backdrop within which to explore the intriguing developments of innovation responsive to a highly volatile, uncertain, and yet, promising economy such as South Africa.

14. Research Methods and Research Report

This course is delivered in two parts. The first part will assist in preparing students for the MBA research project, by training them to develop a well-reasoned, empirically rigorous argument and how to make decisions on the basis of existing evidence and research. During the second part of the course, students will take what they have learned and apply this to writing up their research topic.

15. Company Analysis

Flex your consulting muscle as you engage with, analyse and advise a real-world organisation. This course combines lectures with student-led fieldwork. Working in teams, you will need to integrate a wide variety of managerial knowledge, tools, and techniques to identify, conceptualise and design methods to address a specific challenge in your selected organisation.

UCT GSB Executive MBA

The EMBA curriculum comprises five contact courses, plus a dissertation. The interactive nature of the programme requires that you must attend all contact courses and contribute to the collective experience.

Course 1: Systemic Executive Practice

This first course will enable you to start the construction of a conceptual framework for systemic management practice, which all other courses will develop further. The learning processes and projects are designed to introduce and embed systemic practices in your own management practice.

Course 2: Managing for Shareholder Value

In this course you will explore opportunities for future value creation. The course integrates key concepts from the fields of economics, finance, globalisation and entrepreneurship into a strategic framework. It guides the establishment of a strategic intent and identifies and organises the activities, resources, capabilities, structures and processes needed to realise this.

Course 3: Managing for Customer Value

Focusing on operations, this course will give you an in-depth understanding of how internal and external customer value is created in terms of quality, cost, volume and timing. The course aims to construct a cybernetic conceptual model of operations and to apply this to the value chain of the organisation and its different functions.

Course 4: Managing for Societal Value

In this course, you will broaden your focus to take in the wider socio-economic context in which business and other institutions operate. It is designed to instil an appreciation that an organisation is only as viable as the socio-economic system of which it is a part.

Course 5: Designing Sustainable Business Models

The course will focus on enabling you to develop a new way of being in strategic management and leadership. By allowing you to dwell on and reflect on particular experiences using relevant theoretical concepts, as well as through trying out various heuristics and thought experiments, you will begin to experiment with different ways of being that will unlock new competence, agility and resilience in the workplace.

Course 6: Dissertation

The dissertation marks the final phase of your EMBA. You will be required to write a 25 000 word research report on a topic of relevance to your organisation or context that demonstrates your understanding of the research process and your ability to apply this.