The UCT GSB MPhil is currently being delivered in accordance with UCT's Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) protocol. This framework includes a blend of synchronous (real-time online face to face virtual classroom) and asynchronous (self-paced / in your own time) course content delivery methods. The ERT protocol shall remain in effect in 2021. 

Drive novel and sustainable solutions for social change

Join like-minded thinkers where experience, passion and innovation converge to support new possibilities.

The MPhil in Inclusive Innovation will help you create better solutions for African challenges.

The MPhil is an interdisciplinary, research-based degree that lays the foundation for the development of novel and sustainable solutions for social challenges. Spend a year experimenting, collaborating and designing your own prototype, framework or business model to address a specific social or environmental challenge. This specialised degree is offered as a one-year programme over four modules and students must submit a research dissertation within two years of registration as the only examinable outcome of the programme.


1 year
modular programme plus research dissertation


4 modules of 1 week each


February 2022


Applications for 2022 are now open.


The MPhil develops inclusive innovators who boldly pursue ambitious ideas and dreams. This specialised Master’s degree is designed to be a collaboration between faculty and practitioners at the UCT GSB and student innovators. Modules are held at the UCT GSB campus in Cape Town - South Africa’s most beautiful city. You will be studying at a globally-accredited business school with a world-class reputation. We are one of less than 100 business schools in the world to be triple-crown accredited. 

The degree will equip you to engage critically and innovatively in finding solutions to societal challenges through strategic thinking, design thinking and systems thinking. You will gain skills in managing complex innovation-focused projects, identifying and coping with the challenges of entrepreneurship, tackling business model innovation and planning new ventures and processes including detailed strategy and feasibility studies.


The UCT GSB MPhil programme is geared towards individuals who demonstrate a desire to become change makers in their communities and social contexts. Hear from our students on why they choose to do the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation at the UCT GSB.

“I choose the GSB because of its reputation in the social impact space” - Khanyisa Mpambani, MPhil in Inclusive Innovation student.

“I am interested in the dialogue and narrative we collectively form as students and faculty to build a better society” -  Lorenzo Davids, MPhil in Inclusive Innovation student.

3 Core Components

Learn, engage, reflect & create

Themes and Challenges

Areas of focus and research

The learning process

Solving "wicked" problems.

Term Dates

Term dates for the 2021 and 2022 intakes

Entrance Requirements

Attributes and qualifications needed for this degree

MPhil Fees

Costs for the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation

Available Funding

Scholarships and bursary opportunities

How to Apply

Start your application for the 2022 intake 


The MPhil in Inclusive Innovation is a modular degree so students must be able to attend full-time at the UCT GSB campus in Cape Town for four modules, of one week each, during the first year.

The MPhil in Inclusive Innovation programme offers a degree by dissertation only. This means that the dissertation is the only formally examinable deliverable. However, the programme does require full participation the four modules that offer lectures and workshops designed to strengthen your research skills and to deepen your capacity for practical innovation.

Students will also need to ensure that there is sufficient time and space in their schedule to accommodate inter-modular preparation work and submit deliverables between each module. Deliverables will be evaluated for quality, though not formally examined. Module attendance and timely submission of all deliverables are formal DP (duly performed) requirements for maintaining good standing in the programme. Students who do not meet these requirements will be asked to leave the programme and will not be allowed to submit dissertations.

Final dissertations must be submitted within two years of registration.

The MPhil in Inclusive Innovation dissertation counts 180 credits - representing 1 800 hours of learning.
Exact distribution of hours will vary, depending on the nature of your research project, but you can use the following breakdown as a rule of thumb.

 Developing your research project and skills via module attendance, module readings, DP assignments     400
Preparing your research proposal (including research plan, preliminary literature review & methods, ethics forms, etc.)     200
Data collection and analysis 600
Writing dissertation chapters (drafts, review meetings, revisions) 600

The biggest difference between this degree and most other Master’s programmes is social purpose. The MPhil specialising in Inclusive Innovation addresses social challenges by providing students with the opportunity to do really meaningful and purposeful work in a focussed and supportive environment. Some other programmes only provide the skills for higher level management roles whereas the MPhil programme marries theory and practice to enable students to bring their innovations to life.

Inclusive innovation is simply the development of new products or processes (or a combination thereof) that improve the lives of those living with the lowest incomes. We examine a number of definitions on the course, including Phylis et al (2008) “… a novel solution to a problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals”; Westley (2010) “… an initiative, product or process or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of any social system”; and George et al (2012) “… the development and implementation of new ideas which aspire to create opportunities that enhance social and economic wellbeing for disenfranchised members of society.”

MPhil students are encouraged to work on an innovation that they feel addresses social needs and ultimately relieves poverty across various sectors.

UCT owns all students’ research upon completion and it is shared on an open platform with the public. However, your business idea is yours to pursue in your own capacity. If you have any concerns or questions about Intellectual Property, you may contact the UCT IP office. Click here for more information.

Yes, you may. This programme will provide you with the skills to develop your innovation further; to design your business plan in a way that fits the demands of a social environment and the tools to help you build a sustainable business.

Yes, you may. Not all students wish to start their own business after completing the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation, some students would like to implement their innovation in their current place of work to address an issue that they feel needs to be addressed.

Yes, you may. Sometimes the idea you may have had when applying has changed since starting the course or perhaps with some research you found a different area you would like to pursue, and you may do so.

You can locate a supervisor on the GSB website where a list of all academic staff is available with each academic's area of expertise. You may contact a supervisor who you feel would be able to offer support with your area of research. As our programme does not start off with the research component at the beginning, you are not required to have a supervisor already before the start of the academic year.

Yes, you should apply for the scholarships even if you have not yet completed the RPL assessment, as most of the scholarship deadlines are before the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation application deadline.

The GSB has an extensive network both locally and globally in the field of inclusive innovation, and we frequently facilitate introductions for our students.

During the programme you will have access to industry experts and key local and global specialists - from deep-content experts to market professionals working in the community. Their insight and feedback will help you to improve your solutions.

You will also have the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals across different industries and build your network.

Once you graduate from the UCT GSB you will join our alumni network which is a dynamic forum comprising more than 23 000 past GSB students in 68 countries worldwide. Many of the GSB’s alumni hold key positions in top companies or have started their own successful businesses. Alumni play a vital role in supporting and encouraging more recent graduates to follow in their footsteps and GSB students who find employment after graduation - particularly internationally - frequently do so through alumni contacts.

  • Contact our admissions team on 0860 UCT GSB (828 472) / +27(0) 21 406 1111 or email
  • Attend one of upcoming information sessions, which are held all over the world, click here for more information.

If you meet the admissions criteria for the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation and are ready to apply, please click here. For more information on the application process please click here.


Professor Warren Nilsson

Director of the MPhil Specialising in Inclusive Innovation 

Associate Professor Warren Nilsson is currently Associate Professor of Social Innovation at the UCT GSB as well as a faculty affiliate of the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan.



Date: 14 July 2021

Time: 12:00 - 13:00 (GMT+2)

Venue: Online (virtual)


Hear from the director of the MPhil Specialising in Inclusive Innovation, students, and alumni on what they have to say about the programme.