Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module BUSI4A515: Business Dynamics

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI4A515: Business Dynamics

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1K607
Tied to N1K507


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with a systematic way of understanding, visualising and modelling the major interdependencies in business and other complex systems, aimed at enhancing strategic thinking and learning.


  • System dynamics as a modelling method and feedback thinking
  • Causal loop diagrams
  • Stocks and flows
  • Time delays
  • Model structure and nonlinear behaviour
  • The modelling process
  • Software used to build models
  • Building and analyzing models
  • Management flight simulator (or microworld)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module students should:
  • have a critical appreciation of the use of modelling and simulation for learning;
  • be able to take feedback relationships, time delays and nonlinearity into consideration when facing complex problems;
  • have an advanced understanding of when system dynamics might add value to the business decision-making process.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of the module students should:
  • be able to create causal loop diagrams from the description of a situation;
  • be able to conceptualise a system dynamics model from causal loop diagrams;
  • be able to build small models using the chosen software;
  • be able to understand the model behaviour and conduct analysis on it;
  • be able to apply system dynamics to the analysis of real-world business situations.
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 learning outcomes will be met through a combination of lectures, seminars and groupwork (including group discussion of model examples, team games and group modelling project) together with individual exercises and guided reading.
  • The summative assessment of the module, by individual written assignment, is designed to test students’ understanding and critical appreciation of the key concepts associated with system thinking and dynamic modelling, and their ability to apply them to complex problem solving.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/workshops 9 2 hours 18
Seminars 4 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 128
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Individual written assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual written assignment requiring the application of system dynamics 2500 words (maximum) 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Group project

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