Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2009-2010 (archived)


Department: Economics, Finance and Business (Business)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2009/10 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1DU17
Tied to N1DR17
Tied to N1DU14


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To give students an in-depth understanding at an advanced level of the complexities of decision-making, and how decisions can be improved by specialist techniques such as decision analysis and scenario thinking.
  • To provide students with a sufficiently detailed knowledge of methods for solving quantitative problems to permit them to appreciate material covered elsewhere in the MBA programme.
  • Emphasis is placed on critically evaluating both the quality of management judgement and the assumptions underlying decision-aiding techniques, especially quantitative techniques.


  • How people choose between alternatives.
  • Improving choice using multi-attributable value analysis techniques.
  • Psychological pitfalls in choice: overconfidence, escalation of commitment, shift-to-risk in decision making.
  • Decision analysis – methods and techniques for making decisions that involve uncertainties.
  • Data description.
  • Applications of models to management problems, e.g. risk and monitoring.
  • Scenario planning versus decision analysis – creativity and the framing of decisions.
  • Decision making in management teams – pitfalls and remedies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A specialist knowledge of the pitfalls in how individuals and management teams make decisions;
  • A critical appreciation of the assumptions, implications, and limitations of decision analysis;
  • Advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the uses of quantitative and qualitative information for evaluating options in an uncertain business environment.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Advanced skills in, and a critical understanding of, the techniques of multi-attribute decision analysis;
  • Ability to use modelling applications within Excel and apply them to complex management problems.
Key Skills:
  • Written communication;
  • Planning, organising and time management;
  • Problem solving and analysis;
  • Using initiative;
  • Computer literacy.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is delivered in discrete Units. These are designed to enable the learning outcomes to be achieved through a combination of specially written material, directed reading, reflection through self-assessed assignments and guidance for further reading. Module tutors provide feedback on formative work and are available for individual consultation as necessary (by email, telephone, post or fax).
  • The summative assessment, by written assignment, will test students' understanding of, and ability to apply, relevant statistical and modelling techniques.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
DL Study Units (a combination of specially written material, directed reading, self-assessed assignments and guidance for further reading) 150
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment 4,000 words maximum 100%

Formative Assessment:

Self-assessed exercises integrated into distance learning materials and a written assignment.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University