Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI4Q615: Silicon Valley Field Trip

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4Q615: Silicon Valley Field Trip

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to G5K709


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an opportunity for students to visit leading international knowledge-driven organisations and to understand and evaluate the complex nature of different dimensions of their ‘business models and systems.
  • For students to analyse the data forms and processes underpinning at least one major organisation on a significant dimension of its ‘organisational system’ (e.g. marketing, 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 trip 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 develop their careers.


  • Pre-Trip 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 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). • They will submit a research plan to the organisers for how they will tackle the topic relevant to each organisation’s needs.
  • Field Trip: • The field trip will comprise visits to a series of data-intensive participating organisations in Silicon Valley, with time set aside for group work. • During each visit, students will present their analysis to the representatives of the participating organisations. There will be time for feedback and questions.
  • The post-Trip report delivery: • After the field trip, 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). • The summative assignment will include a section (500 words) detailing their own reflections on the experience, what they personally learned about their topic on the field trip, and how they will make use of this experience and knowledge in their future career (i.e. ‘reflective practitioner’ activity).

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 ‘data 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:
  • Effective written communication
  • Planning, organising and time management
  • Interpreting and using data
  • Making effective use of communication and information technology
  • Team working
  • Synthesising diverse perspectives
  • Reflecting and synthesising from experience

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

  • This module will be delivered jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Business School
  • The summative assessment 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 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.
  • Parallel arrangements will be put in place for any student unable to travel to Silicon Valley, to ensure the module learning outcomes are still satisfied. Specifically, they will still take part in the preparatory seminars and will also have access to specially recorded lectures, individual tutorial support and pre-prepared data sets. For their summative assessment, the group presentation component will be replaced by an individual video presentation (i.e. the standard resit assessment). In their reflective practitioner statement they will be expected to draw on their experience of the preparatory seminars thus enabling the key skill of teamworking to be assessed.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Preparatory seminars 3 2 hours 6
The tour: company visits 6 2 per day 3.5 hours 21
Post-tour seminar 1 2 hours 2
Reading, project work and preparation (group work and individual) 121
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Presentation 10 minutes 100% Individual Video Presentation (5 minutes)
Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Reflective practitioner statement 1500 words 100%

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. Students will get formative feedback throughout their seminar-based work. The feedback will provided during the seminar and will take the form of a critique and review of the work that has been prepared and presented by the students. The feedback will be given in a manner that all of the cohort can benefit from the feedback and advice given to the group that has presented.

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