Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Business School (Business)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1KB17


  • 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 this module, students should:
  • Have a critical appreciation of the main strengths and weaknesses of various strategic actions such as diversification, internationalization, technological first-mover, and joint-venturing;
  • Have 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 this 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 organizational 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:
  • Building and developing teams.
  • Negotiating and persuading.
  • Sourcing appropriate data and evaluating evidence.
  • Interpreting and using numerical and financial information.
  • Reflecting and synthesising from experience.
  • Developing critical thinking.
  • Synthesising diverse perspectives.
  • Developing coherent and persuasive arguments.
  • Selecting appropriate modes of communication.

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 examination will test students' acquisition and articulation of knowledge. The group written assignment is based on a scenario planning exercise, to test students' understanding of and ability to apply relevant analytical techniques.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops (a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion) 32
Preparation and Reading 118
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual written examination 2 hours 100% Same
Component: Group written assignment based on a scenario planning exercise Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group written assignment 5000 words maximum 100% Individual written assignment (2500 words maximum) to include reflection on the groupwork component.

Formative Assessment:

Group presentation linked to Scenario Planning workshop

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