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Student and tutor module reviews

Making sense of strategy

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: B301
  • Level: 3

Student reviews

I have mixed feelings about this module. The pros: My tutor was a superstar all the way through, always replied to any correspondence and she was very good at pushing us through the hurdles.

The content of the module is actually useful, if you weed out all the blabber surrounding it.

You can get through the TMAs just fine as well as get your head around critical thinking and trying to choose a few theories to argue your case - as you won't be able to cover it all in enough depth.

I thought the collaborative wiki building was the most enjoyable and it was actually my favourite part of the whole module. It kept me motivated and we managed to get a bit of banter in as well. It came in very handy for revision as well. This will be a time when you can get ahead of memorising some of the theories.

The cons: A lot of reading which would have not been a problem, but the language used in the books made it hard to get through. I thought it was going around the message in circles a lot.

I would have liked to have an assignment on the last two books as well to motivate myself to read them through sooner, as that has caused problems with my revision, thus I didn't do as well on the exam as on the assignments due to not leaving enough time to revise.

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: March 2015

Firstly, you may have been put off this course by reading some of the previous reviews. I had actually feared doing this compulsory course for my business degree due to previous reviews I had read, which left me feeling defeated before the course began. Do not think this way!

B301 is an excellent module, offering great insight into the world of business strategy, and it will certainly be useful to your working context.

Whilst certainly not easy, the course is perfectly manageable by applying a common sense approach in terms of prioritising workload with other social commitments.

The course was academically challenging at times, but thanks to an excellent tutor who built my confidence, it wasn't nearly as notorious as is made out in other reviews.

Whilst there is a lot to revise for the exam, it is by no means impossible. Certainly, some of the exam questions were fairly basic and straight forward. I would recommend you book some time off perhaps a week or two before the exam to revise.

In summary, a fantastic insightful course which will help you in your working life, and develop your knowledge of strategic thinking greatly. Highly recommended and good luck!

Ron Smillie

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: January 2015

A tough course with a fearsome reputation in terms of both the amount of material, and the standard of work and involvement required. However, it certainly rewards the student for the effort made.

The TMAs and exam are exacting - critical thinking is key, which may be a difficult perspective for those new to Level 3 study or coming from other disciplines. Take none of the material on face value, be prepared to justify your arguments and remember that even apparently competing theories can be combined in an argument. Go for it!

Gordon Stewardson

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: January 2014

One of the most interesting courses I have done. This course provides a solid grounding knowledge in strategy and its content is undoubtedly useful in working environments. Overall, the course is challenging and requires effort. Although, I was surprised in finding out that the final exam does not reflect this characteristic of the course. The examination paper was easy and straightforward. From a level 3 course I would expect a tougher exam, composed of more compulsory questions and less choice available.

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: January 2014

I found this to be an interesting course, yes a huge amount of reading but doable. The content was relevant and the TMAs were hard but understandable, I definitely benefited from attending the tutorials it would be hard to do this course without good support from the tutor and other students.

I had done B201 and B203 before taking this course and there were some subjects that were covered again in B301 which relieved the unrelenting amount of material.

I had doubled up on most courses for my degree but didn't on this one for which I was very grateful, I wouldn't recommend doing any other course with this unless you are studying full time.

However revision for the exam is so hard. I would suggest you get your marks up on other courses and don't hang your degree classification on this course. There is such a huge amount of material to revise and anything can come up. All of us in my group struggled with this although for many it was the last course and we had taken exams before. It was horrible - all my careful making of topic notes during the course ready for revising and learning, only demonstrated the impossible task ahead of me when I looked at the huge pile of topics, concepts and theorists.

My tutor advised that I couldn't learn it all and I had to pick a selection of topics, I was lucky that 3 of my 4 chosen topics came up and I gained a good pass but I still feel sick thinking about what would have happened if I hadn't been so lucky. Looking at the exam paper I couldn't have 'waffled' my way through any of the others, the questions were very specific.

With such a large amount of material I think it would have been better and more fair if it had been like the B201 exam where you could select areas of study for the exam. In summary, it is a very interesting course that I have found useful in 'real life' the only downside is the style of the exam.

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: September 2012

This course is without doubt the most intense that I have studied.
It will require discipline, diligence and good time management.
Each block takes in a significant amount of reading but hang in there because it all comes together as the course ends. So while it places a high level of demand on the student, it also provides numerous sources of knowledge and information that I for one will be able to utilise for the rest of my career.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: August 2011

A varied and interesting course which is best tackled (if possible) during a period that you could promote as much time as possible to, I would suggest an extra hour or two above the OU's suggestion. There is a large amount of reading (and thorough comprehension and retention of those works) required, in addition our tutor recommended a further 3 books which he felt would assist our studies.

One TMA requires 2 weeks of online colaboration at specific times (ours clashed with summer holidays and the 2010 world cup!) and whilst enjoyable, proved a challenge for many of my group as it was opposed to the usual flexibility the OU is renowned for.

My expectation was that this was a "how to do strategy" course and as such would be prescriptive in its format, after realising that this is not the case I was able to realign my approach to my studies.

I have to be honest, this was my least favourite course I have taken, having said that I have been able to apply some of the course concepts to my work. My personal experience was that the exam did not really enable me to demonstrate my comprehension of the course.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: June 2011

There was a tremendous amount of reading for this 8 month course which really didnt give you much time to digest everything. I found this a difficult course because of all the reading but I managed to scrape though. If it wasn't a compulsory module in my degree I would have avoided it. On the other hand there were some interesting parts which have certainly stuck with me since finishing the module.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: May 2011

This course was quite heavy with a lot of reading and was very fast paced. I think it should have been a 12 month course. Strategy was quite intense, some parts were very interesting but other parts I didn't grasp until the end of the block which didn't fair well with TMAs. There was a lot of information to revise for the final exam.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: January 2011

As a level 3 I expected this module to be a challenge. However, it was much more difficult, demanding and stressful than I ever anticipated. For each block there is a course book to work through and a book of academic readings. I found the academic readings very difficult to cope with and I had to spend much longer per week on this course than any other I have done with the OU to keep up.
he collaborative analysis using a case study was an intense 3 weeks but I found that one of the more enjoyable parts of the course. The TMA questions are difficult and to get good marks critical analysis is key.

If you are thinking of taking this course be prepared to work hard. Good luck.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: December 2010

Faculty response

I'm very grateful for the feedback offered here and it's great to see that students have found what they have learned on B301 to be useful in real life. I can't deny that there is a lot of material in the module and students (and tutors) do have to work hard. Strategy is a big subject, and study at level three is challenging in a number of respects not the least of which is time management.

Following feedback from students and our excellent team of tutors on the first presentation (2010 from which comments here appear to date) we provided a far more detailed study calendar in 2011 to help students plan their work week by week, and changed the timing of one of the assessments to lighten the load half-way through the module at what had proved to be a 'pinch-point'.

Both of these changes were reflected in much improved survey feedback for the 2011 presentation which is reproduced below. To my mind this presents a much more accurate picture of the current and ongoing experience of the course than do the 2010 figures also displayed on this website. Compare them and see what you think!

B301, February 2011 presentation:
Overall satisfaction with quality - 85.4
Satisfaction with study experience - 81.3
Value for money - 77.9
Satisfaction with Tutor/advisor support - 75.0
Satisfaction with teaching materials - 84.4
Workload higher than expected - 72.9
Met learning outcomes - 84.4
Recommend course to others - 72.9
Met my expectations - 66.7
Enjoyed studying the course - 67.7

Best wishes, and please keep the feedback coming so we can make B301 even better.

Terry O'Sullivan
B301 Module Chair


Tutor reviews

For me, as tutor, the main strength of B301 is the way the module is structured in a very logical and coherent way. Block after block, we explore the conceptual frameworks of strategy formulation (such as the positioning school and the resource-based view) and we learn to apply the tools used to develop and implement a business strategy (e.g. overcoming cultural resistance to change within the organisation, or better understanding middle managers' pivotal role).

The dialogue of "theory" and "practice" makes B301 most relevant, especially as the examples show that planning strategically is important for all types of organization.

It is true that the module is demanding; students have to work hard. Strategy is notoriously seen as a difficult topic, but the learning materials help support independent learning. The collaborative activities (for example a compulsory wiki as part of one TMA) also ensure that students work together and feel part of a community of learners.

Loykie Lomine

Review posted: January 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.


Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2016 presentation of B301. The survey was carried out in 2017.

199 students (a response rate of 27.3%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 70.4 138
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 66 128
The module provided good value for money 57.9 110
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 73.5 144
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 78.4 152
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 79.9 155
I would recommend this module to other students 56.2 109
The module met my expectations 61.7 121
I enjoyed studying this module 54.6 107
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 63.7 123
Faculty comment: "The module team is always keen to learn from survey results. We are pleased that close to 80% of respondents were satisfied with the teaching material and clear learning outcomes. It is encouraging that more than 70% of respondents were satisfied with support provided by their tutor/study adviser. We have been working closely with the Head of Student Experience to build on what we do well and rethink things that we could do better. Efforts to ensure that our offer is fresh and relevant—which should meet concerns about this module's study experience, value for money and students' willingness to recommend the module—are shaping the design of the replacement to this module which is planned for introduction in 2019."
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