Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI48N15: The Boardroom Exercise (FT)

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI48N15: The Boardroom Exercise (FT)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to N1K017


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To apply at an advanced level the concepts and theories learnt during the core programme of the MBA to the board level strategic management of a real-world international organisation
  • To allow students to reflect upon and improve the analytical, professional and social skills expected of an MBA graduate
  • To develop insights into the multi-disciplinary nature of corporate management of an organisation
  • To enable students to understand at an advanced level the implications of and trends within corporate governance structures, frameworks and policy for the effective management of corporations
  • To develop and enhance skills in communication, presentation and persuasion within the context of the boardroom of an international organisation


  • During the initial stage of the MBA Programme, students are introduced to the necessary functional disciplines of general management through a range of thematic core modules. This module allows the student to explore the multi-disciplinary nature of general management by seeing the application of all these functional disciplines within the setting of the corporate boardroom.
  • The module is centred on the Boardroom Exercise which is a small-group activity (typically 5 – 8 students per group) that runs within the second stage of the MBA programme. Students are allocated to groups and simulate the behaviour of the executive management team of a specified real-world organisation as they prepare for and participate in a simulation of a board meeting of the corporation. This meeting is chaired by an external executive with extensive board experience along with other similar external executives and academic staff who undertake the role of non-executive directors.
  • The activity is designed to provide an opportunity for experiential learning, with the group carefully searching for and analysing relevant information; preparing an agreed agenda and board papers for the meeting; participating as specified members of the executive management team within the meeting including preparing, presenting and facing questions from the non-executive directors.
  • In addition to the group-based activities outlined above, each student will write an individual report that reflects upon their learning from the core modules and skills development programme as it applies to the boardroom exercise and their broader professional development.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should:
  • Have a critical appreciation of corporate governance structures, processes and policy development as they apply to the activities of a corporate board; the roles and responsibilities of executive and non executive directors; and the effective performance of company boards;
  • Have an advanced understanding of how the disciplines of general management can be integrated and used to effectively manage the strategic development and performance of an international company;
  • Have an advanced understanding of the typical challenges faced by international business organisations and the development of options available to address them.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should:
  • Be able to think strategically and critically about the performance of an international corporation, as well as functionally;
  • Be able to critically analyse the internal, market and non-market environments of the corporation in order to understand the strategic constraints and opportunities it faces to address current and future performance;
  • Be able to develop, as part of a team, detailed and integrated management reports that explain current corporate performance and/or define management actions to address performance and contribute to the future strategic development of the corporation;
  • Be able to articulate and persuade groups like non executive directors and the broader investment community that the executive management team has a clear understanding of current corporate performance and the ability to drive successful future performance;
  • Be able to think self-critically about their managerial knowledge and professional skills, identifying gaps and opportunities for continued personal development.
Key Skills:
  • Building and developing teams
  • Negotiating and persuading
  • Sourcing appropriate data and evaluating evidence
  • Interpreting and using numerical and financial information
  • Reflecting and synthesising from experience
  • Developing critical thinking
  • Synthesising diverse perspectives
  • Developing coherent and persuasive arguments
  • Selecting appropriate modes of communication

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

  • Whilst not part of the teaching input into this module, students will be expected to draw on the content and skills developed in core modules.
  • A series of lectures/presentations will examine issues of corporate governance structures & processes; the roles and responsibilities of directors and boards; the composition of effective boards; the nature of board papers and investor communications. This will also include a panel-based discussion drawing on the collective experience and expertise of the senior executives acting as board chairmen.
  • A workshop on effective boardroom behaviour will examine and develop thinking, listening and communicating skills, drawing on the latest thinking on effective leadership approaches. Appropriate links will be drawn to the wider programme of professional and personal skills and development. The workshop will be followed by group-based coaching in both effective board behaviours and upon the content of the board papers, board meeting and investor briefing. There will also be a pre-board meeting (effectively a rehearsal of the full board meeting) led by the module teaching team – which will simulate the meeting and provide verbal feedback to the group.
  • In addition, the groups will have the opportunity to draw on the skills/mentoring of their board chairman though informal meetings and web/telephone communication throughout the Boardroom Exercise. This includes the Chairman leading the feedback session, alongside the other non-executive directors, immediately after the full board meeting.
  • The boardroom groups will need to spend considerable time, both together and individually, analyzing the chosen company, evaluating its performance and strategy, devising and evaluating strategic responses and preparing the relevant documents (board papers) for consideration. Typically, the groups will need to meet as a management team on a regular basis, providing executive management committee minutes to the board chairman and seeking approval/guidance in the development of the board agenda.
  • The Boardroom Exercise forms one element of the summative assessment (75%) of the module – consisting of the performance of the group within the board meeting and the associated board papers for the meeting. This is a group-based assessment with individual marks determined by agreed School procedure for peer moderation of performance.
  • As the Boardroom meeting would be difficult to repeat, any student failing this component of assessment will have a resit opportunity consisting of a 3,000 word individual report focusing upon the performance and proposed strategies of the chosen corporation.
  • An individual report forms the other element of summative assessment (25%). It will focus upon the student reflecting upon the skills and knowledge developed both within the core modules and the personal/professional development programme, using the context of the Boardroom Exercise to critically evaluate individual learning and development.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8
Workshop/Group Coaching/Feedback 12
Group work (timetabled) 28
Group related preparation & reading 64
Individual preparation & reading 38
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Boardroom Exercise Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Board Meeting 90 minutes 60% 3,000 word individual report covering the Boardroom Exercise component overall
Board Papers 40 pages (approx.) + supporting appendices (not assessed) 40% See above
Component: Individual report Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual report 2,000 words 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Informal formative feedback will be provided by the module team throughout the Boardroom Exercise, both within the workshop on effective boardroom behaviours and the subsequent individual group coaching sessions. In addition, each group will be able to draw on the expertise and mentoring of their board chairman. Formal formative feedback will be based on the group performance at the pre-board meeting both in written feedback form and a verbal de-brief meeting. Feedback is also provided by the chairman and non-executive directors (including a member of the module teaching team) in an extended debrief (typically up to an hour) immediately after the full board meeting.

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