Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module BUSI4H015: Marketing Theory

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI4H015: Marketing Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to N5K609 MSc Marketing


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module is designed to introduce students to the key debates in marketing theory, focusing specifically on cutting edge research frontiers that challenge the conventional accounts of marketing theory and practice found in mainstream marketing texts and courses. It engages with the philosophical assumptions underpinning marketing thought, tying these to recent empirical advances in marketing theory. As is argued throughout the course, depending on the way we conceptualise marketing, it can mean we see it as a purely managerial discipline, solely preoccupied with meeting customer needs, wants and desires. From other perspectives, however, many of which are not addressed in traditional accounts of marketing theory or practice that are relayed in introduction and advanced marketing textbooks alike, marketing’s role in society, its philosophy of customer-centricity and the ideology of the marketing concept, has been subject to stinging critique. With this in mind, the module aims to deepen students’ appreciation of the limitations of mainstream approaches to marketing theory and practice by juxtaposing these against a range of critical perspectives including those aligned with critical marketing studies, macromarketing, transformative consumer research and recent turns in critical social marketing.


  • The Development of Marketing Theory and Thought: Multiple Paradigmatic Perspectives.
  • Paradigms and Marketing Theory (logical empiricism, interpretive research (CCT), critical theory, postmodernism, feminism and postcolonialism).
  • Marketing as Exchange, Transactions, Relationships, or Seduction?
  • Conceptualising the Consumer: As King? As Sucker? As Guinea Pig? As Amateur? As Postmodern Chameleon? As Misbehaving?
  • Market Research Practices.
  • Co-Creation and the Mobilisation and Manipulation of Consumer Practice.
  • Service Provision, Emotional Labour, Sexualised Labour and Abject Labour.
  • Power and Vulnerability in the Marketplace.
  • Marketing in Non-Western Contexts.
  • The Darksides of Marketing
  • Final Reflections on Postmodernism and Marketing.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have an advanced knowledge and understanding of:
  • The history of marketing theory and practice.
  • The philosophical assumptions of marketing theory.
  • Alternative accounts of the role of marketing in society.
  • The boundaries surrounding consumer agency.
  • The boundaries limiting marketing practice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Analyse the changing nature of the way marketing has been understood historically.
  • Identify the key events in the history of marketing thought that have led marketing theorists and practitioners to justify their activities in some ways and not others.
  • Debate the underlying assumptions that constitute the various paradigms in marketing theory.
  • Debate how the underlying assumptions that constitute the various paradigms influence how we make sense of the role of marketing in society.
  • Appreciate and analyse the plurality of ways in which the consumer can be conceptualised and link these changing concepts to the attempts to legitimate marketing to multiple stakeholder groups.
Key Skills:
  • Effective written communication skills.
  • Planning, organising and time management skills.
  • Problem solving and analytical skills.
  • The ability to use initiative.
  • Advanced computer literacy skills
  • The ability to work effectively and efficiently in teams

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

  • The module will be taught in 3-hour blocks to allow a greater level of engagement with students and to enable a flexibility of approach as appropriate. The teaching blocks will comprise a balanced mix of lecture-type teaching, group work, case studies, discussion and seminar style working such as will enable the learning outcomes to be met.
  • The summative assignment is designed to test students’ acquisition of subject specific knowledge and skills through their interrogation of a key concept in marketing theory that has been introduced during the lecture series. Student knowledge of the concept, the key literature associated with it, its core attributes and major limitations will be tested through a group assignment (to encourage debate and to test team working skills) as well as through an individual examination.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Teaching blocks 9 1 per week 3 hours 27
Preparation and Reading 123
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Assignment 2,000 words 100% Individual Assignment (1,500 words)
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 1.5 hours 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Seminar exercises will be used to give students an opportunity to explore, discuss, critique and apply the key aspects of marketing theory and practice. The main aim of the formative assessment is to begin to understand the application of the material, to consolidate your knowledge and further develop relevant skills for academic work. Participation in seminar elements provides an opportunity for formative feedback throughout the module. Verbal formative feedback will be given to the students as a group throughout the seminar 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