Program Description

The GSB MBA programme is structured to refine your professional knowledge, stimulate your imagination and give you the skills and confidence you need to realize your ambitions. You’ll learn to see the world for what it is and what it could become and discover how you can transform simple inspirations into meaningful business solutions.

The programme will also give you a solid grounding in international business with a strong focus on emerging markets. Emerging market business is confronted with a high degree of uncertainty, complexity, and often, excessive inequality. Such a world needs new ideas and solutions, and we’re focusing our energy on developing teaching and research that responds to this need.

The MBA at the GSB is offered as a one-year, full-time course or in a two-year, modular format for delegates who are unable to study full-time. Both programmes are structured around 16 compulsory core curriculum designed to address the fundamentals of management.

Students can then tailor their studies by selecting additional courses from a selection of 19 electives.

Our key learning goals:

  1. Demonstrate the necessary managerial knowledge, tools, and techniques to be an efficient and effective manager.
  2. Exhibit personal leadership competencies that reflect values-based solutions and can be applied to the contexts in which you operate.
  3. Be able to adapt your management and leadership skills and apply these in diverse national and international contexts, with a sound understanding of sustainable development issues.
  4. Demonstrate entrepreneurial competencies based on innovation and creativity.
  5. Possess the pedagogical skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, collection and analysis of data and effective written communication.


The MBA curriculum is structured around 16 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 in each course.

1. Organisations, Leadership, and Values

This course seeks to introduce students to leadership theories, organizational 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 organizations, people, and leadership.

2. Evidence-Based Practice

The objective of this course is for students to develop the capabilities to integrate a discerning and well-informed approach to existing evidence and research into their managerial decision-making processes.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Organisational Behaviour and People Management

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

  • The Individual in the organization
  • High-performance work practice
  • Leading and managing people

9. Operations Management

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

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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 organization, as well as the role that purpose, resources, and capabilities play in strategy formation and action. An important aim is that the student develops rigor and confidence in their own ability to think and work in a strategic context.

14. Social Innovation Lab

This course emphasizes the practical application of social innovation concepts in real-world contexts. It is structured as a lab that builds on the conceptual material introduced in the Social Innovation Entrepreneuring core course.

15. 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.

16. 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.

Admission Requirements

The GSB MBA programme is geared toward talented and mature adults who have proven academic ability and business experience, and who are highly motivated to succeed. Students are selected, inter alia, on their capacity for personal and professional development. The GSB uses a number of criteria in selecting candidates.

To be considered for the GSB MBA candidates need to:

  • Be 25 years or older
  • Have a minimum of three years work experience.
  • Be fluent in English. Applicants whose mother tongue is not English will be required to produce a TOEFL certificate to verify fluency in English.
  • Have completed either a Bachelor Honours degree or Postgraduate Diploma or a cognate Bachelor's Degree equivalent at level 8 through relevant work experience. Candidates not meeting the degree requirement can apply through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route and submit the Portfolio of Learning (POL) assessment form.
  • All applicants are required to write the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) and obtain an acceptable GMAT score. A GMAT score of 550 will ordinarily be required. The GSB offers a five-day GMAT Preparation Course to help students prepare for the GMAT.

In addition to the above criteria, the GSB uses a number of other indicators including essays about life experience, goals, attitudes, and values, evaluations from two referees as well as details of job, educational and extramural activities.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB) is internationally renowned as one of a handful of business schools in Africa with the prestigious triple-crown accreditation with endorse ... Read More

The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB) is internationally renowned as one of a handful of business schools in Africa with the prestigious triple-crown accreditation with endorsements from EQUIS (the European Foundation for Management Development), AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), and AMBA (The Association of MBAs). Read less