MSc Management

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Business Performance & Strategy

Course unit fact file
Unit code BMAN73091
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course introduces and brings together two components:  fundamentals of corporate strategy and development of skills to analyse performance of companies and industries. In doing so, students will be able to critically evaluate the debate about the links between strategy and performance, as well as be able to apply their knowledge to real company contexts. The course assumes little or no familiarity with basic performance indicators used to measure and interpret corporate performance. Likewise it assumes no background in strategy.

Over the ten weeks of classes the course will include several components. First, we cover some of the fundamentals of business performance to give students confidence in thinking through internal and external factors that help shape financial performance of organizations. Second, we  consider some key ideas in strategy including the debates about whether the sources of distinctive competitive advantage are internal or external to the organisation. Third, we explore the changing role of strategy in the context of financialisation and the notion of structural shifts in the economy.

Throughout, the course uses international company examples to apply these concepts of performance and strategy and in doing so develop some understandings about the difficulties of making strategy choices to deliver sustained financial performance. Companies will be chosen to illustrate some of the different contexts within which strategies choices are made. Overall, the course explores how many companies face multiple and complex problems in developing strategy and delivering improved performance. In addition to the difficulties many firms face in competitive, mature or highly regulated product markets, firms now encounter increased pressure to deliver higher returns to shareholders, as well as being the target of campaigns for shareholder value from hedge funds and other activist investors.


BMAN73091 Programme Req: BMAN73091 is only available as a core unit to students on MSc Management


  • To introduce fundamental concepts in corporate strategy
  • To understand the significance of financial and other performance for different stakeholders and how this can affect strategy choice
  • To explore the difficulties in delivering sustained performance
  • To provide practical exercises on firms and business sectors which require students to apply strategy concepts and demonstrate skills with company-based case material.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Analyse company financial performance, understanding how revenues, costs and the external business environment contribute to business performance
  • Understand some of the major debates in strategy literature about the drivers of performance, as well as critically appraise the academic evidence about the nature and causes of corporate success
  • Apply techniques of financial analysis to companies and industries, so as to evaluate strategy choices and the difficulties of delivering sustained performance
  • Appreciate the significance of capital market actors in the development and presentation of strategy.

Assessment methods

Group written report (30%)

Examination (70%)


Feedback methods

Written feedback on: a) non-assessed plan for group report and b) on the submitted coursework.

Feedback in seminar classes on student discussions and in office hours and/or other arranged meetings.

Generic feedback posted on Blackboard regarding overall examination performance.


Recommended reading

A detailed reading list will be provided with guidance on core and supplementary readings for each of the topics covered. For the seminars, students will be required to work through mini case studies provided, as well as related academic literature.

As general, background reading the following are useful:

·         Richard Whittington, Ludovic Cailluet and Basak Yakis-Douglas (2011) ‘Opening Strategy: Evolution of a Precarious Profession’ British Journal of Management, Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 531–544.

Carter, C. et al (2008) A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying strategy, Sage (Chapter 1).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 118

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Julie Froud Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Informal Contact Method

Office Hours

Drop in Surgeries (extra help sessions for students on material they may be struggling with)

Follow-up work after seminars to help further develop knowledge and skills.

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