Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module BUSI4G8JN: Consumers and Consumerism

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4G8JN: Consumers and Consumerism

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21
Tied to N5K609J


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To explore consumer interactions with the products and services of everyday life, and with the marketing of those products and services.
  • To facilitate an understanding of how and why consumers act, think and feel the ways that they do by exploring the psychological, social, cultural, biological, and marketing factors that influence, and are influenced by consumption.
  • To critically review contemporary perspectives on consumption and marketing practices at the cutting edge of industry and academia.


  • Products and preferences - exploring the bases of human consumotion phenomena
  • Levels of explanation - causation, ontogeny, adaptation, phylogeny
  • Objects of desire - emergent perspectives on consumer drives, motivations and goals
  • Survival goods - food preferences, landscapes, travel, real estate, sustainability etc.
  • Reproductive goods - dating industry, appearance-enhancing products, fashion, cars etc
  • Kinship goods - toys, children's wear, education, gift-giving, philanthropy, pets etc
  • Reciprocation goods - corporate gifts, sport, hospitality industry, social media etc
  • Culture, sub-cultures, cultural products and cultural codes - music, art, literature, games etc
  • Memes and the marketing of ideas - politics, ideologies, propaganda, news services etc
  • Illicit consumption and 'misbehaviour' - theft, pornography, drugs, fraud, counterfeiting etc
  • The biological shift - consumer neuroscience, neuromarketing and neuro-ethics

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will:
  • Have a critical understanding of the psychological, social, cultural, biological, and marketing influences on consumers' behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
  • Be able to explain the various consumption activities that individuals undertake.
  • Have a critical appreciation of why and how an understanding of consumers and consumption is important for marketing.
  • Have gained the necessary subject knowledge to enable them to observe, interpret and demonstrate marketing and consumption in action.
  • Be able to understand the latest research issues and instruments in marketing and consumer research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will have acquired the following specialist skills at an advanced level:
  • Ability to critically evaluate and reflect on one’s own behaviour in the role of consumer.
  • Ability to develop and evaluate marketing strategies in the light of marketing and consumer theory.
  • Ability to critique consumer research reports.
Key Skills:
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Planning, organising and time management skills
  • Problem solving and analytical skills
  • The ability to use initiative
  • Advanced skills in the interpretation of data
  • Advanced computer literacy skills

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

  • The module is delivered by means of a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures provide the main conceptual input to the module, while the seminar series is designed to provide students with an opportunity to discuss key issues/debates in greater depth and to explore some of the key tools marketing researchers use in this field. In addition to guided reading and independent study, the module makes use of a range of multimedia resources and podcasts to enhance the learning experience and ensure outcomes will be met.
  • The summative assessment of the module takes the form of a conceptual analysis of a major area of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) consumption. This is designed to test students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter and their ability to apply their knowledge and specialist skills in the context of specific issues in consumer research.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 per week 2 hours 20
Seminars 4 1 per fortnight 1 hour 4
Preparation, Reading, Data Collection and Independent Study 126
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual essay 3000 words 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Students undertake a series of in-class group exercises aligned to the module content, receiving instruction and continuous feedback on the theoretical knowledge and consumer research skills needed to undertake the summative assignment.

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