MM296: Building competitive advantage: Business Strategy and Operations

MM296: Building competitive advantage: Business Strategy and Operations

Module code: MM296

Module provider: International Business and Strategy; Henley Business School

Credits: 20

Level: Level 2 (Intermediate)

When you'll be taught: Semester 1

Module convenor: Dr Joseph Lane, email:

Module co-convenor: Dr Ajeseun Jimo, email:

Pre-requisite module(s):

Co-requisite module(s):

Pre-requisite or Co-requisite module(s):

Module(s) excluded:

Placement information: na

Academic year: 2024/5

Available to visiting students: Yes

Talis reading list: Yes

Last updated: 28 May 2024


Module aims and purpose

The first half of the module introduces students to the concept of competitive advantage, why this is important for organisations, and how this can be achieved through the development and application of business strategies. In addition to asking the core question of how an organisation can build and sustain competitive advantage, the module will introduce students to critical perspectives on the theories, frameworks and analytical tools used in the strategy process. Sources of competitive advantage in the external and internal environments of organisations will be explored, as well as consideration of fundamental concerns facing organisations operating in an increasingly global and dynamic business environment.

The second half of this module focusses on operations management, which can be seen as the function of the organisation that manages the resources that are devoted to the creation and delivery of services and products that create value for the organisation’s customers. Integrating operations management alongside strategic management responds to the resulting opportunities and challenges faced by organisations today. It focusses on the key principles that underpin operations management in order to provide a theoretical and practical grounding that provides a broad understanding as to how operations managers can lead the delivery of products and services that both delivers value for their customers and delivers on the organisations business objectives and strategic vision.

Overall, the module will highlight the importance of different functions within an organisation working together and the role of operations and processes in supporting strategic initiatives in developing and sustain competitive advantage over the long-term.

The module lead at the University of Reading Malaysia is Dr Mandy Mok.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. Apply key concepts, theories and tools to significant, relevant, and authentic problems facing organisations
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of core theory and academic literature relating to the areas of business strategy and operations management
  3. Explain and debate the perspectives of business strategy in organisations and the role of operations and processes in supporting organisations in the delivery of their strategy
  4. Analyse and evaluate a range of data, sources of information and appropriate methodologies, and to use that research for evidence-based decision-making
  5. Effectively communicate the results of analysis, synthesis and application of concepts and theories

Module content

Topics to be included in this module: 

  • Competitive advantage
  • External and internal strategic analysis
  • Disruption and technological change
  • Strategy in turbulence
  • The nature of operations and processes and key dimensions of operations strategy
  • Delivery system and process design
  • Meeting customer demand, including capacity, inventory and supply chain management
  • Measuring and improving operations performance


Teaching and learning methods

Core material will be covered in lectures in which class interaction will be encouraged. These will be supported by seminars which will include individual and group-based activities on relevant topics and cases.

This module may be taught in a different Semester if you are studying at our campus in Malaysia.

For students studying at our campus in Malaysia: This module may be taught in a different semester and the breakdown of study hours may differ to those set out in the Study Hours table (please refer to the Module Handbook for the correct breakdown). In addition, you will be required to complete an additional 40 hours of study, taking the total number of study hours to 240 for this module. This is to comply with the Malaysian Quality Agency (MQA).

Study hours

At least 31 hours of scheduled teaching and learning activities will be delivered in person, with the remaining hours for scheduled and self-scheduled teaching and learning activities delivered either in person or online. You will receive further details about how these hours will be delivered before the start of the module.

 Scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Lectures 21
Seminars 10
Project Supervision
Practical classes and workshops
Supervised time in studio / workshop
Scheduled revision sessions
Feedback meetings with staff
External visits
Work-based learning

 Self-scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Directed viewing of video materials/screencasts
Participation in discussion boards/other discussions
Feedback meetings with staff
Other (details)

 Placement and study abroad  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Study abroad

Please note that the hours listed above are for guidance purposes only.

 Independent study hours  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Independent study hours 169

Please note the independent study hours above are notional numbers of hours; each student will approach studying in different ways. We would advise you to reflect on your learning and the number of hours you are allocating to these tasks.

Semester 1 The hours in this column may include hours during the Christmas holiday period.

Semester 2 The hours in this column may include hours during the Easter holiday period.

Summer The hours in this column will take place during the summer holidays and may be at the start and/or end of the module.


Requirements for a pass

Students need to achieve an overall module mark of 40% to pass this module.

Summative assessment

Type of assessment Detail of assessment % contribution towards module mark Size of assessment Submission date Additional information
In-class test administered by School/Dept Class Test 25 90 minutes Semester 1, Teaching Week 12
Written coursework assignment Individual Essay 75 2,000 words Semester 1, Assessment period

Penalties for late submission of summative assessment

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

Assessments with numerical marks

  • 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 three working days;
  • the mark awarded due to the imposition of the penalty shall not fall below the threshold pass mark, namely 40% in the case of modules at Levels 4-6 (i.e. undergraduate modules for Parts 1-3) and 50% in the case of Level 7 modules offered as part of an Integrated Masters or taught postgraduate degree programme;
  • where the piece of work is awarded a mark below the threshold pass mark prior to any penalty being imposed, and is submitted up to three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline), no penalty shall be imposed;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

Assessments marked Pass/Fail

  • where the piece of work is submitted within three working days of the deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): no penalty will be applied;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): a grade of Fail will be awarded.

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.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment is any task or activity which creates feedback (or feedforward) for you about your learning, but which does not contribute towards your overall module mark.


Type of reassessment Detail of reassessment % contribution towards module mark Size of reassessment Submission date Additional information
Written coursework assignment Individual Essay 100 3,000 words During the University resit period August/September

Additional costs

Item Additional information Cost
Computers and devices with a particular specification
Printing and binding
Required textbooks
Specialist clothing, footwear, or headgear
Specialist equipment or materials
Travel, accommodation, and subsistence


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