Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module BUSI4021: Marketing Theory

Department: Business School (Business)

BUSI4021: Marketing Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to N500
Tied to N506
Tied to N508


  • 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 formative assignment is designed to test students’ acquisition of subject specific knowledge and skills through their interrogation of a key concept in marketing theory. In the first instance, this will be tested via an individual assignment (1000 words) that deals with a key concept such as the marketing concept, relationship marketing, or critical marketing studies (for example). This will provide students with experience of researching about and then subjecting to review and critique a key concept in marketing theory.
  • The group summative project will build upon this by asking the students to produce a group essay that reflects upon the key ideas that have resonated with them during the course. They will be asked to provide a critical review of these ideas and based on their group insights – insights developed through introspective reflection – highlight how their knowledge of the ideas concerned has changed over the duration of the course. Practically, this will require that each student maintains a diary of their experiences during the course which will subsequently inform their analysis. Diaries will be included as appendices to their group project.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Teaching blocks 9 1 per week 3 hour 27
Preparation and ReadingPreparation and Reading 173
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Assignment 2000 words 100% Individual Assignment (1500 words)
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 1.5 hours 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Individual essay (1000 words). 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.

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