Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module BUSI41Q15: Strategy (DL)

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI41Q15: Strategy (DL)

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


    Strategy seeks to explain firms’ success or lack of success. Strategy is concerned with matching a firm’s resources and capabilities to the opportunities that arise in the external environment. The emphasis of the module is on two themes: 1) the interface between strategy and the external environment, and 2) the interface between strategy and the internal environment of the firm – more specifically, with the resources and capabilities of the firm.


  • Concepts of strategy.
  • Strategic purpose.
  • Environmental and industry analysis.
  • Analysing resources and capabilities.
  • Sustainable Competitive Advantage – including sources of advantage (cost and differentiation) and sustainability.
  • Corporate strategy – including vertical, horizontal and international scope, methods of development and managing synergy.
  • Corporate culture and strategy.
  • Strategic management processes.
  • Managing strategic change.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module students should:
  • Have a critical appreciation of the contribution strategy can make to successful performance;
  • Be able to recognise the multiple roles that strategic management plays within organisations;
  • Be able to identify structural features of an industry that influence competition and profitability, but also critically analyse competition in order to identify opportunities for competitive advantage within an industry;
  • Have a critical appreciation of the role of resources and capabilities as a basis for competitive advantage;
  • Be able to distinguish and analyse the primary types of competitive advantage;
  • Be able to understand the challenges of managing complex, multi-business organisations, including the relative merits of linking businesses and the alternative approaches available to the corporate centre;
  • Have a critical appreciation of the challenge of managing strategic change.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module students should:
  • Be able to apply a range of relevant strategic analysis tools to assess complex business cases;
  • Be able to evaluate differing strategic options.
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 learning material, self assessed exercises and a formative assignment on key topical issues, together with guided reading.
  • On the DL MA Programme each module is delivered in discrete Units which are equivalent to a lecture session. A DL Unit normally consists of specially written material, directed reading, reflection through self-assessed assignments and guidance for further reading.
  • Each student is allocated a Tutor for each Module. The Tutor is tasked with providing feedback on formative work and is available for individual consultation as necessary. Tutoring is normally provided at a distance and may be conducted by email, telephone, post or fax.
  • The DL Programme also offers annual residential seminars which provide the opportunity for DL students to interface with members of Faculty, meet Tutors and to interact with other students.
  • The assessment of the module, by written examination, is designed to:
  • test the aquisition and articulation of knowledge;
  • test conceptual understanding and skills of application and interpretation within the business context.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Units 9 108
Tutorials 5
Preparation and reading 37
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Written assignment of 1,500 words (maximum)

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