Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Business School (Business)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to N1K017
Tied to N1KC17


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore the range of location, distribution and channel management issues facing modern businesses, with particular emphasis upon the increasing prominence of GIS at all stages in the strategic planning process. The module combines seminar discussions of the spatial dimensions of business planning problems with practical instruction in the use of industry-standard GIS software packages. A particular feature of the module is the extent to which both the seminars and practical classes draw upon innovative case studies in order to link potentially abstract GIS concepts to authentic business scenarios and data, illustrating how leading organisations internationally have successfully employed GIS in addressing 'real world' business problems in industries as diverse as automotive manufacturing, retailing, financial services, telecommunications, gambling, food distribution, newspaper publishing, and insurance risk assessment.
  • This is designed as a level 4 elective module, introducing students to the strategic business geography literature and GIS software, and building upon topics in marketing, operations management and information systems introduced in the core modules of the MBA.


  • Spatial Business Strategies:
  • Spatial strategies for sustainable competitive advantage and business growth;
  • The geography of the competitive environment;
  • Inductive and deductive approaches to location analysis and site selection;
  • Spatial interaction modelling;
  • Spatial approaches to territory management and network optimisation.
  • GIS for Business:
  • Introduction to spatial information technologies (SITs) and ArcGIS;
  • Accessing, analysing and evaluating spatially-referenced business intelligence;
  • Developing spatial models for location selection and trade area analysis;
  • GIS strategies for territory realignment and intelligent network planning;
  • Organisational strategies for implementing "intelligent" GIS technologies and spatial decision support systems (SDSS).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, the students will have acquired:
  • a grounded understanding of the spatial dimensions of business activities, together with the role of GIS as a strategic planning tool;
  • a critical appreciation of the nature, quality and accessibility of spatially-referenced business intelligence and the potential contribution of GIS in the strategic application of such intelligence.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, the students will have acquired:
  • the specialist technical skills needed to utilise GIS-based solutions to strategic spatial planning problems in manufacturing, retail and service organisations.
Key Skills:
  • Written communication; planning, organising and time management; problem solving and analysis; using initiative; computer literacy.
  • 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 assignment will test students' understanding of relevant concepts and their ability to apply and interpret what they have learned to the analysis of a particular issue in depth.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops (a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion) 28
Preparation and Reading 122
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: GIS Practical Project Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
GIS Practical Project leading to a report 4,000 words maximum 100%

Formative Assessment:

Classroom-based GIS formative exercises.

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