Best MBA programmes in the UK

Dan Mason, Editorial manager
October, 2018

Rankings and league tables aren't definitive, but they can help you find out which business schools offer the most highly regarded MBA programmes - the ones that will give your CV that extra boost

The UK is home to some of the best MBA courses in the world, and this is recognised in all the major global league tables.

These are the UK business schools that performed best across the Financial Times (FT) Global MBA Rankings 2018, QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, and The Economist's Full-time MBA Rankings 2017…

10. University of Reading

Henley Business School

The University of Reading's full-time MBA, delivered at Henley Business School, puts a strong emphasis on international business, leadership and corporate reputation, combining academic theory with real life projects.

It takes 12 months to complete, with the £35,000 fee including tuition, a £1,000 deposit and the cost of accommodation in South Africa for a study visit.

The campus is a short distance from Reading, at the heart of what's known as the UK's Silicon Valley - home to the likes of Vodafone, Microsoft, Oracle and Intel.

As well as the full-time course, you can also study a part-time Executive MBA over 21 months or the flexible Executive MBA over 30 months.

Global rankings: The Economist: 61st

9. The University of Manchester

Alliance Manchester Business School

Describing itself as 'one of the world's most practical MBAs', The University of Manchester's programme will see you taking on three consultancy projects with real clients.

There are options to study over 12, 15 or 18 months, speeding up or slowing down as you choose at certain points in the course. Tuition fees are currently £44,000.

In the most recent intake there were 111 students, including 30 different nationalities and with an average age of 29. Notably, 40% were female, which is impressively high given the notoriously male-dominated nature of MBAs globally.

Alongside the full-time MBA, Manchester offers a global part-time MBA over 18 or 24 months, which involves teaching in three workshop residentials a year. Elective modules can be studied at centres in Dubai, Hong Kong, Manchester, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Kelley-Manchester Global MBA is delivered jointly with the US-based Kelley School of Business. Find out more about the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 36th, QS: 55th

8. City, University of London

Cass Business School

The 12-month, full-time MBA at Cass Business School combines lectures, workshops, live projects, overseas expeditions and international consultancy projects. Tuition fees for the September 2019 intake are £44,000.

For the first six months of the course, you'll build a foundational understanding and knowledge before tailoring the second half of the course to your specific interests.

If you take at least 40 credits worth of elective modules in a particular area, the school will recognise that as your 'concentration'. You can choose from corporate finance, corporate strategy, digital transformation, innovation and entrepreneurship, investment management, and marketing.

There is also an Executive MBA and modular Executive MBA, over 24 months, and an Executive MBA in Dubai, studying at the Dubai International Finance Centre. Find out more about Cass Business School.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 46th, QS: 72nd, The Economist: 65th

7. Durham University

Durham's MBA gives you the opportunity to focus on one of three specialisms: entrepreneurship, consultancy, and technology.

The full-time MBA is taken over 12 or 15 months and tuition fees currently stand at £28,000 - with a discount available for early application. The 15-month version gives you the chance to explore a new industry or job role, take an internship, or prepare to set your own business.

During the course you'll visit a business overseas, attend language classes, undertake a consultancy exercise with an organisation of your choice, and get involved in a real-life simulation of a boardroom.

Durham also offers an online/blended MBA, meaning you can study the course entirely online or in a combination of online and taught residential modules. Another option is the Executive MBA delivered jointly by Durham and Germany's European Business School.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 64th, QS: 67th, The Economist: 57th

6. Imperial College London

Imperial's MBA includes a Global Experience Week, which is bound to be a highlight for many students. It's an intensive foreign trip to explore businesses in an international context.

The full-time MBA takes 12 months, with tuition fees of £52,000. Among the most recent class, an unusually high 45% of students were female, while 88% were from outside the UK. Some 30 nationalities were represented and 24 languages spoken.

Students had diverse previous experience in engineering, energy, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and healthcare as well as the traditional MBA industries of banking, finance and consulting.

Other options at Imperial include a weekend MBA, a two-year Executive MBA and a two-year global online MBA.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 51st, QS: 16th

5. Cranfield University

An exclusively postgraduate university, Cranfield offers an eye-catching range of MBA courses. Alongside the regular full-time MBA and Executive MBA, there are three specialist programmes.

The MBA Energy, MBA Defence and Executive MBA Defence Export will set you up perfectly for a career in these industries. You'll pay £39,000, £36,000 and £27,000 in fees respectively to study these programmes.

To take the MBA Energy as an example, the modules will help you to apply typical MBA topics - such as strategic marketing, project management and accounting - to the energy sector. Compulsory classes include 'Energy markets: an executive perspective', 'Sustainable and conventional energy technologies', and 'Value chain of fuels production and energy conversion'.

For the MBA Defence, core modules include 'Risk and defence management', 'Leading change management in defence', and 'Defence economics and finance'. Find out more about Cranfield School of Management.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 61st, QS: 40th, The Economist: 62nd

4. University of Oxford

Saïd Business School

The University of Oxford ranks both as a leading global university in general and a top provider when it comes to MBAs. Among the highlights of its MBA programme is the Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) project, described as 'action-oriented problem-solving' that addresses a key issue facing the world today.

The one-year course at Oxford's Saïd Business School starts in September and costs £57,200 in tuition fees. There were 315 students in the most recent class, representing 62 nationalities in total - with 93% of them coming from outside the UK.

Alternatively you can opt for an Executive MBA or the unique Oxford 1+1 MBA. This is an opportunity to combine the one-year MBA with one of a select list of Masters degrees in subjects such as public policy, computer science and criminology.

It gives you a chance to deepen your understanding of a chosen specialism before undertaking the general business administration programme.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 27th, QS: 9th, The Economist: 75th

3. The University of Warwick

Warwick Business School's MBA gives you the chance to get involved in workshops on client persuasion skills, effective presentations, diversity and culture in global business, and impactful applications and interviews.

The full-time MBA is a 12-month course, with tuition fees of £39,950. The average age of students in 2016/17 was 33, with nine years of professional experience and 32 countries represented.

You'll have the chance to specialise in entrepreneurship, which involves spending 50% of your time on that topic and 50% on the core MBA content. Modules include 'Innovation and creativity in organisations', 'Entrepreneurial finance', and 'Entrepreneurship and new venture creation'.

Other options at Warwick include a distance learning MBA and an Executive MBA (as well as distance learning and Executive MBAs based at the university's London base, in The Shard). Find out more about The University of Warwick.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 41st, QS: 41st, The Economist: 18th

2. University of Cambridge

Judge Business School

At the centre of Cambridge's MBA is the Global Consulting Project, during which groups of students undertake live consulting projects for companies around the world.

Tuition fees for the 12-month full-time MBA stand at £55,000 for 2019/2020. The class of 2017 was made up of 208 students: 61% male, with an average six years' work experience, and an average age of 29. There were 44 nationalities represented.

The curriculum follows a 'micro to macro' pathway with four phases: team building, team leading, influence and impact, and application and relaunch. You can choose to specialise in areas such as entrepreneurship, global business, energy and environment and healthcare strategies.

You can also study an Executive MBA at Cambridge. It's a 20-month course delivered over 16 weekends and four week-long blocks.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 13th, QS: 19th, The Economist: 55th

1. London Business School (LBS)

Marketing itself as 'the world's most flexible', the LBS MBA is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious in world, and certainly among the best respected in Europe.

You can choose whether to study over 15, 18 or 21 months. Tuition fees are currently £78,500, including flights and accommodation for the Global Business Experience - a week-long international trip involving site visits, workshops, panels, guest speakers and opportunities to visit local LBS alumni.

The LBS class of 2019 is made up of 431 students, 91% of them international and representing 63 nationalities. The average age is 29, the average years of work experience is five and the average GMAT score is higher than the majority of MBA courses at 708.

LBS also offers an Executive MBA and two other EMBAs - the EMBA Global Asia and the EMBA Global Americas and Europe. The former is a chance to study in Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and London, while the latter involves study in London and New York.

Global rankings: Financial Times: 4th, QS: 5th, The Economist: 31st

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