Lancaster was born out of innovation. For a start, the idea of a campus university was a fairly new concept. Students were, and still are expected to take three subjects during their first year. This scheme enabled new students to study three subjects in equal depth during their first year and then specialise in either one of those areas during the Second Year. Initially Arts students were required to study a Science subject, and Science students an Arts. Students could also complete a combined major in two subjects. The approach was highly praised at the time because it helped to sustain interest and diversify the skills and knowledge of students at the university. The introduction of coursework as means of assessment was also an innovative development. Most universities relied solely upon formal examinations but Lancaster decided to incorporate a coursework element into the assessment process, thereby easing the pressure for those students who did not excel in examinations.
With regard to departments, Lancaster also set a trend. Amongst other things, the university developed the first Marketing Department of its kind to be formed in the UK. Of his decision to form the department, Charles Carter commented “We consider there is a need for a greater university interest in the problems of marketing. Marketing is of great importance in the solution of the problems of the British economy and it needs a greater share of good brains and honest research.” In April 1963, it was also announced that a Russian Department was to be formed as a means of studying the language, political system, philosophy and social system within the country.
Innovation was also demonstrated by Charles Carter’s decision to set up a charter against any “discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, politics or any other thing.”