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Why This MBA Program Keeps Getting Ranked The World’s Best For Corporate Strategy

The Lancaster MBA has been ranked number one for corporate strategy by the Financial Times for the third consecutive year



Fri Jul 5 2019

More and more companies are looking for strategic thinkers.

Why? Because they want managers who understand an organization holistically; managers prepared to push strategic discussion and implement change swiftly.

That’s according to Martin Friesl, PhD in strategy, former project manager at Siemens, and professor of strategic management at Lancaster University Management School.

For Martin, strategy is the culmination of everything an MBA degree is about; linking finance, marketing, and operations together to generate the best business.

A top-ranked MBA

It’s no surprise then that the Lancaster MBA has just been ranked number one for corporate strategy for the third consecutive year by the Financial Times.

This is because the school is all about front-loading experience and back-loading theory. “We don’t want to just teach students about strategy, we want to teach them how to become strategists,” Martin explains.

There are three core parts to strategy, Martin continues, all of which are covered in different modules on the Lancaster MBA—the core Strategic Management module, which addresses the science and art of strategy, as well as four electives: Managing Strategic Change; Corporate Strategy; Mergers and Acquisitions; and Strategic Brand Management.

The first core part to strategy is the positioning of a company so that they have a competitive advantage in the market. The second is the corporate-level strategic issues of what business conglomerates should acquire, and the third is about the process of strategy-making, asking the question: What are managers doing when they develop new strategies?

Strategy in the real world

While most strategy modules elsewhere function on case study analysis, on the Lancaster MBA, there is not a single case study used in strategy classes. Instead, students are put into the shoes of executives, assigned real companies, and expected to develop and present to their class an effective business strategy using only publicly available information, every week.

These projects tap into MBA students’ professional experience, creating an environment where they have to bring this into the classroom and build upon it. Students are primed for lectures on the relevant theory so that they can ask Martin and his team more informed questions, thus gaining the most out of their learning.

“Modules start with students presenting, not professors talking,” says Martin, who teaches alongside Gerry Johnson, a best-selling author, and former PwC partner David Pettifer.

“Myself, Gerry, and David openly debate with each other in front of the students, so it feels like a workplace where professors are more like colleagues.”

It is this collaborative and mutual learning approach that shapes strategy at Lancaster. Because of this, Martin says, students are provided with the full complexity of strategy-making and all its difficulties, ensuring they're ready to be strategists in the real world.

Why Lancaster?

Vivian Ephraim (pictured below, right) a current student on the Lancaster MBA, has experienced this learning environment first-hand. She’s only four months into the program but has already registered the value of the school focusing on people and what a diverse cohort can bring to the table, especially in strategy.


A former investment analyst, Vivian has ambitions to gain an upper management position in a private equity firm after graduation. An MBA degree with strength in strategy was high up on her list.

This, along with Lancaster’s diverse class—there are 22 nationalities represented in this year’s class—is what attracted her to the program, and has helped her develop both professionally and personally.

“If you’re a successful strategic thinker you’ll make the right investment decisions,” Vivian explains. “Engaging in practical strategy projects with a team full of different perspectives, constantly challenges, and improves, your decision-making process.

“Already, from Lancaster, I’ve gained an open mind, become more accepting of constructive criticism, and I now know when to speak and when to listen.”

This article was originally published on March 1st 2019.

Student Reviews

Lancaster University Management School




An exceptional educational establishment in the North West of England.

This university has been a fantastic life experience as well as a great academic one. I first decided to go to Lancaster University Management School due to its exceptional business education facilities and have not been disappointed. I recommend the university to anybody that wants to put themselves in a strong position for a career upon graduation.




On Campus

Student Ambassador

Overall, the instruction is decent, however it also depends on your department. The people are friendly, in my opinion. The sporting events are enjoyable, and there is a good sense of community. Although the city is quite remote, it is nonetheless attractive.




Lancaster University honest review

The education system in the university is excellent especially that of the Management School. The campus has great facilities for students to study and live in a relaxed manner. The students can engage in various activities through the socities.




Great opportunities to think beyond

Lancaster University provides a lot of good opportunities to think beyond.There Entrepreneurship in residence program helps students to meet and seek guidance about entrepreneurship and the challenges.Their Work in progress program help to fabricate your startup idea and further to pitch to the potential investors.Apart from that there are lot of programs like Enactus, guest lectures and guidance from seniors to help and shape your career needs. They provide lot of opportunities to shape up your employability skills.




On Campus

A top university in the UK for management science!

If you’re interested in management science studies, Lancaster University is one of the top universities in the UK. The faculty is renowned and have a sterling reputation for research in management science. Candidates specifically interested in Forecasting would find the Centre for Marketing Analytics and Forecasting especially relevant to their field. Besides, the ROI is good as the overall cost compared to other universities is less.




Great university for academia – not great for 'entrepreneurs'

Please keep in mind that my review is nuanced by my expectations of an Entrepreneurship degree :) I came to Lancaster University because it was one of the top universities to have a course in Entrepreneurship. After 4 years in this degree, my most valuable experience has been my placement and not the actual course. The course is heavily focused on impractical elements, which is a bit odd for an Entrepreneurship degree. There are some modules that involve hands-on work but the faculty support for such things has not been great. My course also involved a lot of teamwork which has been fantastic and really prepared me when it comes to dealing with the diversity of opinions. In terms of career prospects, the management school does A LOT to host events, workshops and support sessions to help you build up your employability skills. Although, I wish there was more acknowledgement of SMEs/startups as a viable career option. The entrepreneurship team which is meant to support budding businesses is really stepping up their game with tons of guest speakers, workshops and pitching opportunities. The location is a concern if you're not in STEM, Law or Accounting and Finance. Business requires networking with the broader community. However, for Lancaster students, the best bet is a trip down to Manchester or London. On the flip side, living in Lancaster is much cheaper! Overall, if the purpose of your university experience is to receive top academic education and have great facilities at your disposal, Lancaster is a great choice. But if you want to be in business and entrepreneurship, I would look elsewhere.