Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module BUSI47Z15: International Study Tour

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI47Z15: International Study Tour

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to N2P109
Tied to N2P209
Tied to N2P309
Tied to N2P409
Tied to N2P509
Tied to N2P609
Tied to N2P809
Tied to N2P909


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an opportunity for students to visit leading international companies and to understand and evaluate the complex nature of different dimensions of their ‘organisational system’.
  • For students to analyse at least one major organisation on a significant dimension of its ‘organisational system’ (e.g. culture, strategy, finance, innovation, HRM).
  • For students to research and produce either a single detailed case study or a comparative analysis of two organisations, based on desk research prior to the tour and primary research conducted during the tour.
  • To enhance the employability of students, through exposure to leading international companies.
  • To give students an insight into different working environments when they are considering in which sector to start their careers.


  • Pre-Tour preparation:
  • In groups, students will thoroughly research a selected company in general terms, in terms of a strategic analysis, and on its dimension of focus (e.g. innovation, finance, HRM) to be confirmed prior to the tour.
  • They will produce and present three formative group presentations, based on their group’s desk-research (e.g. published case studies, as well as articles in leading periodicals and newspapers, such as the FT).
  • Before the Tour, they will submit a research plan to the organisers for how they will gather primary data from their participant organisations.
  • The Tour:
  • The tour will comprise six half-day visits to each of the participating organisations, spread across a full working week, with one day set aside for group work.
  • During each visit, as well as the corporate presentations, the groups will have time to conduct primary research, in the form of interviews with the company representatives, as well as observation and document analysis, to refine their understanding of their chosen aspect of the organisational system as it is manifest in their organisations.
  • The post-Tour report delivery:
  • After the Tour, individual students submit a summative assignment comprising their own final analysis, either of a single organisation or comparing and contrasting two organisations (2,500 words).
  • Each student will also submit a further individual assignment (500 words) detailing their own reflections on the experience, what they personally learned about their topic on the Tour, and how they will make use of this experience and knowledge in their future career (i.e. ‘reflective practitioner’ activity).
  • There will be a final de-briefing seminar.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of:
  • Methods for identifying and presenting a host organisation’s essential dimensions (scale, history, structure, operations and markets, current performance)
  • Methods for identifying and analysing how the host organisations design and co-ordinate their operations or policies on a given management topic
  • Critical analysis of how this approach originated, and its impact on operational performance and employee well-being in the host organisations
  • Organisations as ‘systems’
  • Applied analysis of theory and frameworks at an advanced level inside a real organisation
  • The benefits and limitations of primary research, especially the production of detailed case studies
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to identify evidence for the underlying assumptions and theoretical differences in different approaches to particular aspects of organisational systems.
  • Effective group work, including collaborative effort in the research, drafting, and presentation of a report, as well as interpersonal sensitivity, perhaps across national cultural boundaries.
  • Desk research and primary research associated with case studies
  • Ability to appreciate the concept of a ‘reflective practitioner’ and to reflect critically on their own (future) practice as a way of learning and developing.
Key Skills:
  • Written communication; planning, organising and time management; problem solving and analysis; interpretation of data; computer literacy; interpersonal skills.

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

  • The summative written assignment is designed to test the students’ theoretical understanding of their chosen topic, and their ability to apply this to contemporary settings. It also tests their capacity for ‘reflective practitioner’ insights.
  • Because the majority of the learning activity takes place on the tour itself, there will be no formal lectures. Instead, it is planned that there will be three preparatory seminars during Term 2, which will prepare the students for the tour, get them to reflect on case study methodology in the preparation for their formative group presentations, and a final seminar to examine the formative feedback, and to agree upon a viable approach to the primary research to be undertaken on the tour itself.
  • On the tour itself, the participating organisations – having been briefed and having agreed on the overall theme of their visit – will submit to questioning and other forms of primary research. The groups will prepare questions, and assess the evidence for the organisation’s responses to those questions. Free time during the tour will be used to consolidate knowledge, and/or to prepare for visits to the host organisations.
  • The post-Tour de-brief will be an opportunity for the students to refine their analysis, and to reflect on their own summative assignment and learning.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Preparatory seminars 3 2 6
The tour: company visits 6 2 x daily 3.5 21
Post-tour seminar 1 2 2
Reading, project work and preparation (group work and individual) 121

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written report 2500 words 100% Same
Component: Written assignment Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Reflective practitioner statement 500 words 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be provided on group presentations during the preparatory seminars, as well as during the tour itself. Students will receive formative feedback in verbal and written format on a group basis.

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