Universities – in the UK and elsewhere – are caught on the horns of a dilemma: they need to innovate in course design,
but have little or no money available for speculative investment in new programmes. This paper presents an approach to curriculum design that links the pedagogical concerns of quality standards and knowledge creation to the commercial imperatives of funding and development of third-stream income. Drawing in part on Whittington's classification of theories of strategy, it suggests an emergent process serving multiple outcomes in a low-cost, low-risk model. It also addresses in outline the issues of assessment and teaching and dealing with the potential loss of coherence in such an approach.