BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL

UNIT GUIDE : Full Time Students

CONTEMPORARY BUSINESS ISSUES

ACADEMIC YEAR 2009/10

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not chosen solely for current relevance but also for having been a “contemporary issue” for a sufficient period of time for an adequate body of theory and evidence to have been established. This includes knowledge of relevant theory and an analysis of available evidence. seeks to provide support and guidance for a learning process conducted by students for themselves. UNIT OVERVIEW This unit is intended to be multi-disciplinary. it seeks to engage students in all of the three main broad subject areas of BU’s Business School – finance. The topics and their subsidiary issues are: Topic 1: Working with Information Technology • • • Why IT is good for business and the economy. . What legal measures are used to promote competition and restrict monopoly? Competition policy and anti-monopoly legislation. It does not follow the traditional model of a continuous programme of lectures and seminars but instead seeks to provide support and encouragement for students to learn about business and to develop useful problem solving skills for themselves. law and management. For this unit students will be assessed individually but expected to work as part of a small and interdependent group of students. That is. as in many other aspects of life. Assessment will be based on this individual contribution to a group effort. therefore. However. That is. Legal provision for IT in the world of business. The role of IT in economic growth and financial success. In business. The unit. you should not expect the unit to necessarily be able to address current “headline” topics. Many current “headline” issues are simply too new for this to be available so please don’t be disappointed if today’s big news is not covered. it is sub-divided into three subsidiary topics: (I) the economic rationale (II) the legal implications and (III) management in practice. Effective management of IT in a business environment.3 1. 2. UNIT TOPICS FOR 2009/2010 Each of the topics set for the 2009/2010 session has a common structure. In consequence students are both expected and required to be willing to learn in subject areas which overlap and complement their own main areas of specialisation. This means that the issues to be covered are chosen to be ones of current relevance. work is characterised by individuals operating as part of a team. Like any other form of post-graduate university education students are expected to adopt an academic approach. The approach to learning taken by this unit is one of “guided research”. Management of competition and competitive strategies of firms. therefore. The unit aims to address “contemporary” issues. Topic 2: Competition and Competition Policy • • • Why is competition considered good and monopoly bad?: The economic case for competition. The topics selected are.

it is not necessary that students submitting a paper on legal or economic aspects need have any specialist background in either subject. For example. In the first instance there will be an opportunity for students to form their own groups but those that have not submitted notification by the deadline (precise date to be advised later) will be allocated to groups and topics. Although the paper will focus on the specific subsidiary issue it will be required to show evidence of recognition of the links between this issue and the other subsidiary issues. a student writing a paper on the legal aspects of the WTO would be required to demonstrate knowledge of the key linkages with both economic and management issues. This is an initial submission and the work will not be marked at this stage. be allocated to a topic. There will be two stages to submission. Legal challenges and provisions of the WTO. 3. as defined by the content of the “core concepts” lectures and the accompanying material posted on MyBU. whose work should be properly attributed in the submitted paper. This is intentional: the unit seeks to expose students to ideas from other specialist areas. That is. . There may be many different groups dealing with the same topic but each group will deal with only one topic. Each group will volunteer for or. where appropriate. Each group will deal with one of the three topics listed above with each individual group member taking responsibility for one of the three subsidiary issues. (b) explain your choice of focus and (c) conduct your own research in a way that generates a set of clear conclusions. the paper must also contain some original research by the student. Where it is relevant original research is strongly encouraged. approximately 3000 words in length. ASSESSMENT AND UNIT REQUIREMENTS Students will form groups of three after the initial introductory lectures and seminars. Each student will be required to submit two individual pieces of work. which will account for two thirds of your overall mark. in the event of failing to volunteer by the deadline. more detailed aspect on which to focus your own research. The responsible individual will be required to submit a paper on this. if a case study or simple statistical analysis is appropriate to your issue then your mark would normally be substantially better if you include such analysis of your own. Students are required to submit their individual paper digitally on MyBU no later than Friday 18 December 2009 (week 22). PLEASE NOTE: the work will be assessed on the presumption that no prior knowledge of any subject is necessary. in addition to covering the core concepts. This paper must exhibit a clear and full understanding of the relevant core concepts. For example. Where students are assigned to groups they will often be allocated to produce a paper on a subsidiary issue in which they have no specialist background.4 Topic 3: International Trade Negotiations : the World Trade Organisation • • • Why has most of the world committed itself to increased trade liberalisation? The case for free trade and the WTO. Within that group each of the three individuals would volunteer for or be allocated to one of the subsidiary issues. will be a paper prepared on one of the subsidiary issues listed in section 2 above. More importantly. This would require interaction with other group members. Your paper should. For example. The first of these. The purpose of this initial submission is to (a) fix the content of the paper so that no subsequent changes can be made and (b) to allow the paper to be forwarded to another student (from another group) for critical review. Management and strategy for firms operating in an increasingly global business environment. you should (a) choose a specific. not be based only upon a literature review.

Students will be sent by email the paper of another student for critical review as soon as possible after the deadline for initial submission. within the same cover. Your review will not be shown to the student whose work you are reviewing. The presentation will not be formally assessed but it is expected to fulfil two key functions: (a) to help students identify linkages with the other specialist subsidiary issues within their topic (note: your paper must show evidence of awareness of these links) and (b) to provide some feed-back before you finalise your individual paper. It is also a requirement of the unit that each student complete the student unit evaluation questionnaire on MyBU. They will be treated as a single. Word limits for this unit should be treated as guidelines. Your critical review will assessed on the basis of your ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in the work of others and your ability to express an alternative point of view. either in its preparation or its delivery or both. Both should be submitted together in hard copy and. where they are bound or otherwise covered. It is the failure to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant that will be penalised rather than the precise number of words. The final deadline for submission of both the student’s own paper and their critical review is 29 January 2010. The critical review should be approximately 1500 words in length and will account for one third of the overall mark. Work submitted which is substantially less than the word limit will almost always be lacking in adequate content and it is this lack of content rather than any breach of the limits that will be penalised. The mark awarded to the student whose work you are reviewing will be determined first and there is no possibility of praise or criticism from you influencing this mark. Guidelines for assessed work are presented in Appendix 2 to this document. If any changes are found to have been made a substantial reduction in the mark awarded would normally be imposed. . In writing the critical review you should neither shrink from praising the work of another where such praise is due nor should you hesitate to criticise where criticism is merited. Only one form should accompany them since the two will be treated as a single. It is intended to assess your understanding of the subject so it is important that your review uses your knowledge to support or criticise the paper being reviewed. PLEASE NOTE : the individual paper submitted must be identical to the one submitted digitally at the end of the autumn term. composite assignment. Likewise work submitted which is substantially in excess of the word limits will almost certainly include much irrelevant material. confirming that they are sufficiently confident in their work as to not require further support. Groups are permitted to opt out of making a presentation if and only if all members of the group submit a written request in writing. combined piece of work. Each member of the group is expected to contribute to their group presentation.5 Each group will be required to make a group presentation during a pre-arranged session in week 21 (Monday 7 December to Friday 11 December). Please read these carefully. Until you have completed this you will not be regarded as having satisfied all the requirements of the unit. Where possible this will be the paper of a student from another group and it will normally be a paper written on a different subsidiary issue of the same topic that the student produced their own paper for.

Precise times will be notified through MyBU and by email. Those students whose names have not been submitted by this deadline will be notified of their assigned group. the teaching programme is designed to serve the needs of students’ own scholarship and research for their assessed paper.20) Students are encouraged to seek support from unit tutors at any time that they need it. Please use your university email to do this – messages from personal accounts may be blocked by the university’s spam filter. TEACHING Unlike a traditional type of unit. Teaching is provided in three main phases – (a) introductory (b) intermediate and (c) group presentations.uk) of the names of the students and the subsidiary topics to which each is assigned no later than 6pm on Friday 23 October. There will be three subject lectures of three hours each. PLEASE NOTE: by the end of week 14 students should have a clear idea of what is involved in each topic and each subsidiary issue. one for each subject area. These will be scheduled as follows: Law – Wednesday 14 October (week 13) Management – Wednesday 21 October (week 14) Economics/Finance – Tuesday 13 October (week 13)* • this lecture is to be held in a room that is not sufficient to accommodate all students and will be repeated on Tuesday 20 October for those who cannot be accommodated on the first occasion. students are asked to leave questions of general . therefore. However. 4. in which the teaching programme is determined first and the assessment later. This would be in a different subject area and you would normally not be able to choose the subject area.ac. Students are strongly recommended to attend all three of the core concepts sessions before choosing the subject area for their individual paper.to be presented jointly by all unit tutors. with a further 40 minutes for questions and discussion. It is intended to provide an overall explanation of the approach of the unit. Core Concepts Lectures (weeks 13 and 14): These will cover methodology and the core concepts that you need to understand and include in your paper for each of the three questions. This will take about 1 hour 20 minutes.6 4. Please note that you will also be assigned a paper from another student to review. In the first instance this should be through the on-line discussion forum on MyBU where both the questions and the answers to them can be shared easily with all students. In consequence those wishing to form a group should notify the unit leader by email (awebster@bournemouth. You would be expected to exhibit knowledge of the relevant core concepts in your review and. The following provides details of the contents of each stage. Students can also raise questions with individual tutors as their work progresses. need some understanding of the core concepts in all three subject areas. 4.2 Intermediate (Weeks 15 .1 Introductory Stage (Weeks 12 -14) Lecture week 12 (Wednesday 7 October): Introduction to the unit . topic and subsidiary issue by email as soon as possible thereafter.

Each tutor will be present for a minimum of a one hour face to face session and a one hour live online session. You are also free to request that a support session be arranged at a later stage. It is much more common for other students to have similar questions. 5. Guidelines for the presentation are posted separately on MyBU. However. But office hours are open to students from other units and pressure of time means that they do not offer the best prospect for your question to receive as much attention as it deserves. These are intended to provide the opportunity for students to request further explanation of core issues or methodology. this may need to be a live on-line session rather than a face to face one and will only be arranged if a number of students request it. therefore. All unit tutors will have office hours in which they are available to see students and you are just as welcome to make use of these as any other student. . Non-attendance at surgery sessions will be taken to imply that you are satisfied with your progress and do not need further support at this stage. It is. READING AND OTHER SOURCE MATERIALS It should be obvious from the nature of this unit that there can be no single recommended text for this unit. Please organise your work so that you are in a position to ask meaningful questions at this stage. This unit places considerable emphasis on helping you make use of your own initiative and this will be reflected in the marking of assessed work. PLEASE NOTE: at this stage there will also be a one hour lecture to provide guidance on writing your critical review. Please make use of these but please do not limit your reading and research to those sources suggested on MyBU. 4. The timing of the group presentations (one week before initial submission of your individual paper) is intended to provide feedback on what amounts to a draft of your paper. important that you attend this. They will also be available for further sessions (face to face or on-line or both) if there is sufficient demand from students notified in advance. whether or not notified in advance of interest from students. Each unit tutor will be available for a number of “surgery” sessions.3 Group Presentations (Week 21) Once the membership of groups has been finalised the particular time allocated to your group will be notified to you by email and posted on MyBU. Written guidance on preparing a critical review is also provided on MyBU. For this reason it is much more effective for such questions to be dealt with either through MyBU or through surgery sessions where many students can benefit from the same advice. Please do not expect lengthy or detailed individual tuition if you do not participate in the arranged sessions.7 interest to the discussion forum and requests for further explanation of methodological or theoretical issues to the surgery sessions. Suggested sources and resources for each topic and each subsidiary issue will be provided on MyBU. Students are not required to attend surgery sessions if they feel comfortable with the support already provided. Please try to avoid raising problems on a one-to-one basis with unit tutors. It is very rare for a question or a problem raised by one student to be unique. There will be no set agenda for these sessions since the content will be wholly determined by student requests. Most students are familiar with writing papers but find writing a critical review an unfamiliar experience.

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES Having completed this unit the student is expected to: 1 be able to critically access the specific expertise needed to solve a given strategic or policy problem.8 APPENDIX 1: UNIT SPECIFICATION Unit title Level Credit value Contemporary Business Issues M 20 ECTS credits 10 PRE-REQUISITES AND CO-REQUISITES None. together with the ability to communicate recommendations effectively. RATIONALE This unit employs a team approach to learning. finance. Students will be given access to a broad pool of expertise. continuous change and ethical ambiguities. including the identification of relevant state of the art research. finance and law). 2 have the ability to critically evaluate the major contexts within which organizations operate to enable action in the main disciplines (law. 3 have developed sensitivity to contextual diversity. management or finance) are aware of how their specialist discipline interacts in a real world environment with other related disciplines. management) relevant to their specialist pathway. AIMS The overall aims of this unit are: 1 to ensure that students studying any particular pathway (law. and an understanding of the strategic role of information and communication systems. 2 to ensure students have a broad awareness of current and topical business issues (the word business in this context encompasses law. for example being able to demonstrate critical analytical and evaluative skills to inform professional practice. finance and management). . and have the opportunity to choose and construct their own approach to contemporary business issues (deemed to include the disciplines of management. 4 demonstrate transferable and key skills. 3 to motivate students to learn from self managed and group environments.

Students will be expected to undertake independent research and collaborate within their group to collate their findings. Harvard Business Review. Subject specific resources will be made available by the tutorial team supporting selected issues each year. INDICATIVE CONTENT Topics that may form the focus for any cohort may include the following: • • • • • • • • • • Mergers and Acquisitions Supply Chain Management Electronic Commerce International Trade Negotiations Managing Innovation and Change Technology Transfer Regional Economic Integration Human Rights Any corporate governance or risk management “scandal” Managing Change and Innovation. to critique and evaluate contemporary issues and solutions. 1 . ASSESSMENT Intended learning outcomes 1-4 will be assessed by coursework (100%). the business press: Economist. in a combination of interactive workshops. ICC. Learning then will be mainly self-managed and in groups. tutorial support and mentoring. guest lectures. WTO. and consultancy firms and think tanks. INDICATIVE KEY LEARNING RESOURCES Important contemporary strategic and policy issues are flagged up by: international organisations such as the OECD.9 LEARNING AND TEACHING METHODS In this unit students will be given a briefing and an infrastructure (through the VLA and designated tutors that form a pool of expertise). Financial Times. They will be expected to engage in debate and communicate appropriately to persuade others to support their particular solution.

Good work always show signs of extensive reading and some research. This requires careful explanation on your part. For the same reason you should avoid an excessively long introduction or an unnecessary history of firm X or country Y. Properly attributed quotations and references to others are. You work should reflect this and should analyse rather than describe real issues. for example. however.  You should ensure that your work provides a clear set of conclusions based on your analysis. undertake some of your own research. If.  Remember that you are trying to demonstrate to the marker how well you understand and can make use of the relevant topics. Given that your paper is limited to 3000 words any irrelevant material will mean that you are excluding something of relevance.10 APPENDIX 2: GUIDELINES FOR ASSESSED WORK  Always address the issue that you have chosen (or been allocated) and not another that you would have preferred to have discussed.  Avoid plagiarism at all costs. where possible.  Remember that the subject matter is not merely an abstract classroom exercise nor is it just a journalistic description of the real world. It is important to demonstrate both an understanding of core principles (theories) and their application to reality. important for a good essay.  Make sure that you plan your paper and critical review to ensure that you provide a clear logical structure to it.  Do not include irrelevant material and do not waffle. Pay attention to communicating your knowledge and understanding of the subject and do not just assume that it will be obvious anyway. . The literature on the subject at least attempts to address and provide explanations of real behaviour.  A good bibliography is essential for the marker to provide suitable feedback to you. It is particularly important that you make use of and properly reference the work of other students in your group. Very few marks are awarded for addressing a different issue. you decide to undertake a case study try to ensure that you don’t focus on telling us everything you know about Firm X but that you focus on those aspects of Firm X’s experience that are relevant to the topic. Unattributed copying or paraphrasing of the work of published authors or of other students is a serious offence.  Read widely and. Papers without a bibliography will be penalised with a deduction of marks.

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