MM1F19-Management Debates: Ways of thinking about business

Module Provider: International Business and Strategy
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2022/3

Module Convenor: Prof Peter Miskell

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to key ideas and debates that pertain to the study of business and management. It exposes students to the intellectual foundations on which many well-known management frameworks are built. In doing so it requires students to consider business decisions from different disciplinary perspectives, and to recognise the value of these competing viewpoints.


The module is team taught, with different streams of lectures delivered by academics from different disciplinary backgrounds. Pedagogically, the module adopts a ‘syndicate’ approach, with students assigned to learning groups for the duration of their study.

This module is delivered at the University of Reading and the University of Reading Malaysia.


The module is premised on the assumption that business and management is not a traditional academic discipline, with its own well established rules and conventions. Rather, we see it as a profoundly important set of activities that shape many aspects of our lives, and which can be understood by applying insights and perspectives from different academic fields. The module therefore aims to:

• Introduce students to ideas and concepts from different subject areas;

• Help students to appreciate the relevance and usefulness of these concepts for understanding business and management practice;

• Encourage students to weigh the relative merits of these different perspectives in different situations or circumstances.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will have demonstrated that they are able to:

• Understand key ideas from the fields of psychology, economics, politics, law, history and philosophy and how these apply to business and management;

• Analyse the foundational concepts of ‘organisations’ and ‘consumers’ from multiple disciplinary perspectives;

• Analyse the relationships and interaction between firms and consumers (or between different organisations) from multiple disciplinary perspectives;

• Appreciate the way in which businesses relate to both their local communities, and to wider global trends, from multiple disciplinary perspectives;

• Critically assess the relative value of these different perspectives in relation to specific questions or international contexts.

Additional outcomes:

During the course of the module students will also have the opportunity to develop their:

  • Ability to work effectively in a team

  • Presentation skills

  • Report and essay writing skills

  • Ability to develop, interrogate and defend opinions and arguments from different disciplinary perspectives.


Outline content:

The module addresses core concepts in business and management from four broad perspectives:

Psychology-Key topics include: individual motives and behaviours at work; consumer decision-making; the exploitation and resilience of individuals; and individuals within local and global communities.

Economics – Key issues include: the efficiency of markets; the economic function of firms; pricing and market segmentation; game theory; and the factors that influence where firms are located.

Rules, regulations and ethics: This draws on academic concepts from fields such as law, politics and philosophy. Key issues include: corporate governance and control; the regulation of consumer choice; the principles of contract law; the challenges of enforcing rules at a global level.

Historical perspectives – Key questions include: when did concepts such as ‘the firm’ or ‘the consumer’ first appear and why? Are the decisions of firms (and consumers) constrained by their particular histories? How can our understanding of the past inform our thinking about current and future trends?

Global context:

The module is international in both content and outlook. The concepts covered through the module are internationally applicable and this will be reflected in the readings and examples explored. The final week of lectures will primarily focus on global issues (e.g. relating to inequality, climate change and shifting patterns of globalisation).

Students will be expected to work within multinational (and multicultural) groups throughout the module, exposing them to different assumptions and approaches in practice as well as in theory.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and workshops. Each of the four perspectives will be covered by a ‘stream’ of weekly two-hour lectures, as well as fortnightly tutorials. There will also be fortnightly ‘integrative’ lectures, in which academics from different disciplinary perspectives will debate big questions. Fortnightly workshops will also be run to support students in preparation for their group assessments. Alongside these ses sions, there will also be a weekly stream of skills classes which will provide dedicated support to help students with things such as team working, essay and report writing, presentations and data analysis / visualisation.


The pedagogy builds on Henley’s longstanding commitment to the syndicate method, whereby students learn in groups throughout the duration of their studies. Students will remain in the same groups throughout the module, with all group members being assigned the same academic tutor. Groups will have to tackle several assignments, with group members having the time to really understand each other’s strengths, and to learn how to work through any difficulties. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 36
Seminars 36
Tutorials 10
Project Supervision 6
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Supervised time in studio/workshop 9
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 75
    Advance preparation for classes 10
    Preparation for tutorials 10
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 80
    Revision and preparation 55
    Group study tasks 60
    Reflection 11
Total hours by term 400 0 0
Total hours for module 400

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 20
Report 20
Class test administered by School 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One open-book on-line examination at the end of the Autumn Term. (60% weighting)

One individual written assignment of 1500 words. Due in week 5 of term. (20% weighting).

One group report. Due in week 8 of term. (20% weighting)

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be required to deliver a group presentation in week 7 of term. This will be linked to their report topic. The presentation will allow students to receive formative feedback to support the preparation of their report. Groups failing to deliver a presentation will receive a small mark deduction for their report.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;

  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:

You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A weighted average of 40% or more.

Reassessment arrangements:

A re-sit examination in late August or early September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 22 September 2022


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