Core Capabilities

Duration and timing: throughout all three terms


Together with Mindful Manager and Leading Mindfully, this module forms the central general management core of your MBA programme.

The Core Capabilities module is designed to help you to develop the skills that are vital for effective managing and leading. We focus on three things: your cognitive conduct, your collaborative conduct and, most crucially, your reflectivity.

The module provides an intense experiential learning process and continues throughout the year. Details of just some of the practical workshops and masterclasses are given below.

Cognitive conduct

Critical, creative and integrative thinking

The life of a senior manager is one of the construction and de-construction of arguments – a skill which we will help you to hone. You will become highly skilled in the art of analytical reasoning and critical thinking. As a senior manager in an organisation you will need to be a creative thinker, and highly skilled in mobilising the creativity of others in the identification and exploitation of business opportunities.

As a senior manager you will need to be integrative in your thinking about business problems and issues – thinking about everything that impacts on business issues: customers, employees, competitors, capabilities and the regulatory environment; and pan-functionally: finance, marketing, sales, customer service and operations. We will equip you to become an integrative thinker who considers the problem as a whole, rather than breaking it down and focussing on the parts.

Many components of the Lancaster MBA programme are specifically engineered to drive the development of your integrative thinking – for example the Marketing module, the Business Management Challenge, the Strategy module and the Entrepreneurial Challenge. You will participate in an Integrative Thinking masterclass that will consolidate and test your capability in this area.

This learning programme has been developed by Lancaster, Human Factors and Roy van Budgen of If...then.

Practical workshops include:

  • Critical thinking and argumentation
    Two-day workshop led by Charlie Atkinson of Human Factors. 

  • Creative thinking
    One-day workshop led by Charlie Atkinson of Human Factors. The workshop is timed to complement your activity on the Entrepreneurial Challenge and with Saatchi & Saatchi.

  • Integrative thinking
    One day masterclass led jointly by MBA Director Dr Peter Lenney and Charlie Atkinson of Human Factors.

Collaborative conduct

Deliberative and co-active

The life of a manager is one of deliberation and co-action – of thinking about things together and doing things together – of collaboration. High-quality collaborative conduct is vital. At the very start of the programme you will participate in an intense experiential learning programme designed to provide a rapid enhancement of your collaborative conduct. You will have many opportunities during your MBA to practise these skills and reflect on your experiences.

Most components of the Lancaster MBA programme are engineered to drive the development of your collaborative conduct, whether it is deliberative, co-active or rhetorical, and generate powerful learning experiences on which you can reflect.

Practical workshops include:

  • Collaborative working
    Three-days, including an outward bound day and two days of workshops with our training partners Roberts Atkinson Munro. Students work in teams of five or six and each team is assigned a specialist coach.

  • Rhetorical skills
    Two days of workshops on communication and presentation skills, led by Career Keystones.


Facilitated reflection on one’s experiences is a proven method of performance enhancement, and is the foundation of effective executive coaching.

To assist you in developing your reflective learning skills and – most crucially – the habit of proactive reflection, you will keep an online reflective learning log throughout your MBA year. You are allocated a personal reflection tutor who'll comment on your reflections. Your tutor is, in effect, your online coach.

Assessment: 10 reflective experiential learning submissions and a final capstone reflection.