Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Economics, Finance and Business (Business)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1KS17
Tied to N1KR17
Tied to N1KS14


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To examine how companies attempt different business and corporate strategies to achieve or maintain a competitive advantage.
  • To give students an in-depth understanding at an advanced level of strategy formulation and implementation under conditions of changing industry competition, firm resources, and technology.
  • To provide an in-depth understanding and critical evaluation of specialist techniques to aid analysis of the competitive and contextual environment.


  • Business and corporate strategy formulation and implementation;
  • The process of developing strategy;
  • Making strategic choices;
  • Analysing the competitive and contextual environment;
  • Implementing strategy.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should have:
  • a critical appreciation of the main strengths and weaknesses of various strategic actions such as diversification, internationalisation, technological first-mover, and joint-venturing;
  • an advanced understanding of many of the routinely-encountered difficulties in strategy implementation and have methods at hand to address those difficulties.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students should:
  • be able to think strategically and critically about a firm, as well as functionally;
  • be able to define a firm’s main capabilities, competencies and competitive advantages;
  • be able to critically analyse the non-market environment of business on firms, such as the strategic constraints and opportunities presented by social and political developments;
  • be able to conduct an in-depth industry analysis and gain advanced understanding of its strengths and limitations;
  • be able to develop and defend a cohesive organisational strategy;
  • be able to undertake critical appraisal of relevant strategic management literature and tools, and apply critical judgement and discrimination;
  • be aware of, and familiar with, methods employed in formulating and implementing corporate strategies;
  • be aware of, and familiar with, tools and techniques to analyse the competitive and contextual environment.
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

  • Learning outcomes will be met through a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion, supported by guided reading.
  • The written summative assignment will test students’ understanding of, and ability to apply, relevant strategy concepts and strategic planning frameworks, together with their acquisition and articulation of knowledge.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops (a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion) 35
Preparation and reading 115
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written assignment based on case study Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written assignment based on case study 4,000 words maximum 100%

Formative Assessment:

Classroom-based exercises involving individual and group analyses and presentations on specific business situations/problems relevant to the learning outcomes of the module. Oral and written feedback will be given on a group and individual basis as appropriate.

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