Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University

Business organisations and their environments

On this page

Business organisations come in all shapes and sizes, and form a central feature of our everyday lives. Our experiences of business organisations vary depending on where we are globally, but we interact with them daily in very personal ways. This course is inspired by the ways in which these organisations are conceived, function, survive and prosper in these turbulent times of the twenty-first century. It is a practical course, grounded in your own experience of business organisations as an employee, customer or stakeholder, and is designed to develop your personal and professional practice in diverse business environments. The course is taught mainly via the internet and you'll take part in an online collaboration with other students.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1015.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1015.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1015.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1015.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1705.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1015.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

We have considered how the internet impacts on the way we live every day and certainly on the way we work and interact with myriad business organisations. Web literacy and the ability to work collaboratively with others in an online environment are now core business skills. To offer you an up-to-date learning experience this course is presented mainly via the web making full use of the OU’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and keeping pace with the rapidly changing global business environment.

This course examines the environments in which business organisations operate. It also looks at how these environments shape, and are shaped by, the ways in which these organisations function. It does this by using theoretical ideas about (and models of) these relationships. You’ll learn by sharing and widening your experiences and analysing them in innovative ways around three key themes:

  • You’ll focus on the relationship between theory and practice. In its teaching and learning approach, this course encourages both reflection on practice and consideration of the implications of theoretical and ethical debates for the operation of businesses in the modern world.
  • You’ll explore the diverse and complex worlds of business: nationally and internationally; large and small; and between the diverse range of organisations that engage with business, including public bodies and the social economy.
  • You’ll use different theoretical models to investigate the implications of different ways of thinking about the business environment.

Key features of the course are that:

  • it explores current global, regional and local issues in business supported by relevant and interesting examples
  • it explores the current state of academic knowledge and ideas of some classic business scholars in a guided way
  • it makes creative use of online technologies to enhance the teaching and learning of business organisations and their environments
  • it challenges your thinking and perceptions of business organisations and their relationship with the society we live in
  • it unravels some of the wider debates and controversies that exist in theoretical and practical understanding of business organisations and their environments.

The structure of the course is organised into four blocks.

Block 1, Encountering Organisations, starts by asking you to assess your current knowledge and understanding of business organisations. It then helps you to develop your skills using the online tutor group forum to reach a shared understanding with your fellow students. You’ll use an online tool to develop your portfolio of skills and abilities. You will also work through an introduction to the course themes and discover ways you can reflect on your relationship and experiences of business organisations and their environments.

Block 2, The Evolution of Organisations, explores how the organisations we see today have been shaped. Against the backdrop of organisation theory, you’ll investigate the internal and external factors that shape business and that business seeks to influence. This will include theoretical analyses and discussions of some internal factors that influence the nature and direction of a business anywhere, like culture, structure, management and control. You’ll also explore the ways in which external factors, like national culture, external control (such as law and regulation), and technological and economic issues impact on the relationships between business organisations and their environments. There will be an online group collaborative activity preparing for the fourth tutor-marked assignment during study weeks 16-19. You will need regular access to the internet during the four weeks of this collaborative activity in February, a fact you may want to consider when making holiday or travel plans.

Block 3, The Context of Organisations, focuses on three sets of overarching debates and issues that are current in the world of business and continually impact on the performance of business organisations. These issues are globalisation, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and regulation. Each topic is explored through case-study materials and theoretical debates about the implications of these issues for business organisations.

Block 4, Re-encountering Organisations, considers what organisations may look like in the future. Are emerging organisational forms, such as open-source networks and social enterprises, just a transient phase? Or are such forms the start of a revolution in the operation of business? What are the implications of this for the business environment? How will changes in contemporary business impact how we work together?

Throughout the course, there is a strong focus on the practical implications of the debates you consider and how these link into your experience of the world of business. The main study materials will be delivered online with embedded audio and video links and via DVD and interactive study materials. This material illustrates the issues raised and links into tutorial discussion and activities to develop your understanding. The use of blogs and collaborative work will foster group learning.

Vocational relevance

The course will prepare you with practical skills that are in line with the QAA benchmark statement expectations for business studies.

Entry

The course is for you if you want a general overview of modern business and the ways in which they relate to their environments. It makes as few assumptions as possible about what you already know and about your experience of formal academic study. However, this is a Level 2 course and if you have no previous experience of studying business studies, it is strongly recommended that you first study An introduction to business studies (B120) (or its equivalent)

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Large print versions of the study materials can be provided on request. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Main study material, four blocks in 29 weekly texts including extra resources and activity material, are provided online. Three course readers, a book of supplementary readings, a course guide and a DVD containing copies of the online video material are provided in a hard mailing.

You will need

The ability to play CDs and DVDs.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“I think this has to be my number 1 favourite module since starting my study with the OU in 2011. ...”
Read more
“Having completed B203 I was a bit worried about doing B201 as I found B203 such a chore. However this ...”
Read more

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code B201
Credits 60
OU Level 2
SCQF level 8
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us

Get a prospectus

Download or
order