MSc in Lean Enterprise

Entry requirements: Please see the entry requirements tab below Full or Part-time: Part-time UCAS Code: School: Business School Search all courses
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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 by contacting

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 Master’s-level Lean teaching.

Programme Director, MSc Lean Enterprise

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…

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…
Dr Pauline Found

Head of Business Improvement Science & Lean

Professor Pauline Found is Head of Business Improvement Science & Lean, Programme Director of the MSc in Continuous Improvement in Public Services and Professor of Lean Operations Management at the University of Buckingham. She was previously Senior Research Fellow of…


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 13 months, students take eight 5-day modules, all of which are assessed by assignment. 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 currently no elective modules. Several staff contribute on more than one module.

By the end of the programme participants will have taken part in real exercises (not just case studies) in several organisations and sectors.

Mentoring is a fundamental part of learning about ‘Lean’. Feedback and discussion are all important aspects of the programme. Networking is also a valuable aspect; our class profile and student group is deliberately small to allow both practical participation and personal interaction with some of the leading practitioners in the UK.

In year two, students write a dissertation and regular feedback sessions take place, both face to face at various locations and electronically.

Full details in the Curriculum Handbook 


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


Part 1 (120 credits). All modules must be passed. Each module is assessed by assignment (100%).

Part 2 (60 credits). 15,000 word dissertation. A dissertation presentation is assessed.

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

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have significant relevant practical experience or a First / Second class degree plus a minimum of 5 years experience. Download great tips for writing your personal statement.

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:

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 > >


Teaching & Assessment

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 and a 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 host 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 host management. The module concludes at around 15:00.

Year 1 (66.7% of total marks) Year 2 (33.3% of total marks)
Taught stage (100%) Dissertation stage (100% of Yr 2 marks)
Eight modules will be assessed via a 4,000 word assignment.
The assignment will be weighted as 100% assessment of each module.
This stage requires delivery of a 20 minute individual presentation and the submission of a 15,000 word dissertation.
The presentation is weighted 20%, and 80% weighting is for the dissertation.
Students are required to pass all stages. The pass mark for each element is 50%.

  • A Pass will be awarded where the weighted average mark for both years is 50-59%.
  • A Merit will be awarded where the weighted average mark for both years is 60-69%.
  • A Distinction will be awarded where the weighted average mark for both years is >70%.

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.

Additional expenses

Please note that students will be responsible for settling their own travel and accommodation costs to and from modules. Books will also need to be purchased by students on the course.  The MLE recommended reading list is available by clicking here: MSc in Lean Enterprise reading list.  Key texts for each module are listed, along with optional supplementary reading.  Books can be purchased from the University Bookshop by calling +44 (0)1280 823444 or alternatively ordered from an online book supplier.  (The University Bookshop can obtain most books in 48 hours and post them to you if you are unable to collect.)   Key texts are available on short term loan from the University Library.

See the Business Curriculum Handbook for further course details.


After Your Degree

Graduate employment

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.


Fees & Scholarships

The tuition fees quoted are for the degree (e.g. if you start a degree at Buckingham in January 2018, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in September 2018). Fees are normally paid in termly instalments.

Postgraduate loan scheme

A new system of postgraduate loans for Master’s degrees in the UK was introduced in August 2016 with support from the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Master’s courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.  Find out more >>

You may also find it useful to visit our Bursaries and Scholarships and  External Funding pages.

Fees may increase annually in line with inflation. For details, please see our Fees and Finance 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.