MSc in Lean Enterprise

Entry requirements: Please see the entry requirements tab below 
Full or Part-time: Part-time
School: Business School

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Since the publication in 1996 of Lean Thinking (Womack and Jones), ‘Lean’ has established itself as the most effective and most widely adopted improvement methodology for operations in the world. With roots in the Toyota Production System and in earlier approaches, Lean has expanded vertically into accounting, marketing, HR, IT, design and R&D, and logistics, and horizontally into service, health, government, and banking. Lean is now integrated with other effective approaches including Systems Thinking and Six Sigma. The Buckingham degree is titled ‘Lean Enterprise’ rather than ‘Lean Operations’ . The focus, however, is on integrated operations rather than on learning  a range of diverse disciplines or tools.

Whilst today not everyone agrees with the term ‘Lean’, the principles learned in this degree are now ‘mainstream’ in any aspiring operation. Find out more at one of our Open Days.

Download the MSc Lean Enterprise brochure

Why Buckingham?

The 22 month, part-time Buckingham MSc is specifically designed for practising managers working, or aspiring to work, in the delivery of services or products. The degree is in ‘enterprise’ because most organisations rely on the integration of employees, customers and suppliers to deliver value. This involves end-to-end value streams from understanding customer requirements, through design and operations and on to product or service delivery. Knowledge of accounting, quality, design, innovation, service are all necessary.

The typical age of participants is 30s and 40s. All participants have considerable experience and are contributors as well as recipients.

Buckingham has an ethos of student support, consistently leading the National Student Survey for student satisfaction. As a private university with a Royal Charter, Buckingham has great opportunities for innovation.  The MSc is part of the Buckingham Lean Enterprise Unit (BLEU).


The staff of the programme are all experienced Lean, Systems, and Six Sigma practitioners as well as all having years of experience in hands-on Masters-level Lean teaching.

John Bicheno

Professor John Bicheno

Professor of Lean Enterprise

BSc (Eng), GDE (Witwatersrand), MA (Lancaster), MBA (Bradford), PrEng, CFPIM (APICS), FSAPICS John was born in South Africa. He graduated with Engineering degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and spent 12 years in industry and local government in … Read more >

John Darlington

Value Flow Consulting Ltd John Darlington is the founder and Managing Director of Value Flow Consulting Limited, a UK based management consulting firm working with clients around the world. Value Flow helps customers improve performance by using a combination of … Read more >

Dan Jones

Professor Daniel Jones
The Lean Enterprise Academy

BLEU Associate

A management thought leader and adviser on applying Lean process thinking to all kinds of businesses across the world, Dan Jones is an honorary graduate of the University of Buckingham Business School (Doctor of Science, 2015). After studying at the … Read more >

John Seddon

John Seddon

BLEU Associate

John Seddon is an occupational psychologist, researcher, professor, management thinker and leading global authority on change, specialising in the service industry. He is the managing director of Vanguard, a consultancy company he formed in 1985 and the inventor of ‘The Vanguard Method’. Read more >

Justin Watts

Justin Watts

BLEU Associate

Justin Watts is a Head of Service Excellence at Lloyds Banking Group where he is responsible for specific application of System thinking to the digital development and end 2 end transformations of customer journeys. Before this role Justin worked as … Read more >


The philosophy of the programme is that Lean can only effectively be learned with hands-on practice. Hence, a considerable part of the programme is held on-site at plant and service locations. By the end of the programme, participants will have taken part in real exercises (not just case studies) in several organizations in several sectors.

Mentoring is an important part of learning about Lean. Detailed mentoring, feedback, and discussion are important incorporated aspects. Networking, of course, is also a valuable aspect that results from the class profile.

The student group is deliberately small to allow both practical hands-on participation and personal interaction with some of the leading practitioners in the UK.

Course outline

During the first 14 months, students take nine 5-day modules, eight of which are assessed. The additional non-assessed module includes skill training on the application of systems thinking, problem solving and aspects of TWI (Training Within Industry). Extensive use is made of electronic meetings and mentoring. An iPad is recommended.

The modules are a set, one flowing into the next, building into an integrated system. Hence there are no  elective modules. Several staff contribute on more than one module.

Between modules 1 and 2, there will be a practical week spent on ‘systems thinking’ and TWI methods. Systems Thinking will include practice in the very successful Vanguard ‘Check’ methodology. The TWI section will develop competence in the classic TWI trilogy of job instruction, job methods, and job relations. (TWI is to a large degree the foundation of the Toyota Production System.)

In between modules there are electronic-based mentoring sessions, based on the ‘A3’ format. Skills in the use of A3 will therefore be developed throughout the programme.

Part 2 has two main activities – a dissertation and an on-site ‘capstone’ exercise for both assessment and integration. Regular feedback sessions take place, both face to face at various locations, and electronically.

The mentored capstone exercise is considered essential for the experience of integrating all the modules.

More information in the University Handbook.

Modules available on this course

  • Foundations and Stability
  • TWI and Systems Intervention (not assessed)
  • Improvement and Systems
  • Demand, Capacity and Flow – Part 1
  • Demand, Capacity and Flow – Part 2
  • Layout, TPM, Lean Marketing
  • Leadership and Change
  • Supply and Distribution
  • Innovation, Design Thinking, Accounting


Read the latest version of Bicheno’s Top 100 on Lean (XLS file, 65 KB)


  • Written assignments often based on own company cases.
  • A3 mentored exercises
  • Practical case study held on-site and covering all modules
  • Dissertation
  • (No examinations)

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have a significant relevant practical experience or First / Second class degree plus a minimum of 5 years experience.

Mature students

Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from suitably qualified students.

Personal statement

Download these great tips on writing your personal statement.

International students

We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.

The University is a UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor.

English levels

If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements. If your English levels don’t meet our minimum requirements, you may be interested in applying for our Pre-sessional English Language Foundation Programmes.

Selection process

Applications are now open, and will close as soon as the course is fully subscribed with the limited group size.

Wherever possible, you will be invited to the University to meet the Admissions Tutor for an informal interview and to have a tour of our campus. If you are an international applicant, it may not be possible for you to visit in person, so if the Admissions Tutor has any queries about your application you may be conducted by skype, email or phone.

The Admissions Team for Business would be happy to answer any questions you may have:


Miss Bethany Carter

Admissions Support & Marketing Assistant

Read more →
Lyn Hartin

Mrs Lyn Hartin

Business Admissions Administrator

Read more →

Terms and conditions for prospective students

When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the terms and conditions between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the terms and conditions outlined in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the terms and conditions contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting any offer. Read the admissions terms and conditions > >

Quality teaching

We offer high quality, traditional Oxbridge-style teaching, which leads to our degrees being recognised around the world. The standards of degrees and awards are safeguarded by distinguished external examiners – senior academic staff from other universities in the UK – who approve and moderate assessed work.

High calibre staff

Most of our academic staff teach for three terms out of four, with the remaining term used for research. Because of this, we have no difficulty in attracting high calibre, highly respected lecturers, many of whom also have a background in business or industry and can offer networking opportunities for students.

Teaching methods

Teaching across our postgraduate programmes is through a combination of formal lectures, tutorials and seminars. Our lectures aim to encourage healthy dialogue between faculty and students, and between students themselves, while our small tutorial groups ensure that students can engage even more closely with their teachers. Members of the Business School faculty also make a point of being available to students outside the scheduled teaching sessions – something which our postgraduate students find particularly valuable.

We frequently use case studies to examine business decisions taken in real situations, and business simulations and games give you first-hand experience of decision making in the world of work. Role-play and group problem-solving exercises help you to apply some of the theoretical concepts delivered in lectures and you will have the opportunity to undertake individual or group projects with local companies on topical business issues.

Assessment methods

Students are assessed using written assignments, mentored exercises, on-site case study and dissertation. There is no written examination.

A Typical ‘Hands-on On-site Module’

The first day comprises lectures and discussion on the topic theory. A briefing is given by plant management , and a walk though takes place. Days 2 to 4 consist of lectures, discussions, and games but also several hours of investigation, observation, discussion with plant staff, use of computer packages for data analysis, and synthesis. During such days, students work closely with lecturers (typically two) and together they work out recommendations. Overnight there is often readings and further analysis. On the Friday a presentation is made to plant management. The module concludes at around 15:00.

Preparation for work

All our degree courses combine academic challenge with the transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for future employment. Many of our more vocationally-focused degrees offer the opportunity of work placements and experience in industry.

Graduate employment

We have a high graduate employment rate, The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) ranked Buckingham top for graduate employability with 98.1% in July 2015.

Our graduate prospects are excellentOur graduates have gone on to further study at most of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, London, Oxford and Cambridge and secured jobs in senior positions around the world. Among our alumni we have a graduate who became the head of his country’s civil service and one who became a leading Formula One motor-racing driver. Another secured a position as the Minister of Sabah and one female law graduate became the first British lawyer to become a French Advocate.

The tuition fees quoted below are for the degree (e.g. if you start an MBA at Buckingham in January 2016, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in September 2016). Fees are normally paid in termly instalments.

tuition fees 2016#

tuition fees 2016#

MSc in Continuous Improvement in Public Services (2-years, part-time) £17,000
MSc Lean Enterprise (2-years, 8-term) £18,000

#Students will pay the same termly fee for the duration of their studies. The tuition fee quoted is therefore the total cost of the degree.


Students who graduate from the University and plan to continue their studies with a postgraduate degree at Buckingham can benefit from a very generous automatic discount on their fees:

  • 33%, those with a first class honours degree from Buckingham
  • 25%, those with a Second Class Honours, Upper Division (2:1) degree from Buckingham

Postgraduate loan scheme

A new system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK will be introduced from 1 August 2016 with support from the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £10,000 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.  Find out more >>


Details of scholarships can be found on our main Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship.

You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.

Due to the mode of study on this course you will not normally need a room in University accommodation during your degree.

However, if you require short-term accommodation in Buckingham we would be happy to provide a list of local bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Alternatively, please contact our Accommodation Office for advice.

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