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Making sense of strategy

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The fascinating world of strategy – from its origins and development as a subject to the controversies that dominate contemporary strategic debate – is introduced in this course. It’s relevant to anyone interested in how organisations and individuals make sense of the world and strive for success. You’ll develop skills in clear thinking, independent enquiry and collaborative working as you analyse and apply the ideas and approaches that have done most to influence how strategy is conceived and carried out in today’s organisations, whether commercial or not-for-profit, locally, nationally and internationally. You’ll take part in an online collaboration with other students for a month during the spring.

Modules at Level 3 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
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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

Strategy is the way in which organisations and individuals orient themselves towards what they see as success in their various fields of endeavour. Traditionally this has been taken to involve formal sequences of analysis, planning and choice, and implementation of coordinated activities in pursuit of deliberate goals. Other schools of thought have argued that the wide gap between intention and achievement means that the study of strategy should focus on how winning strategies actually emerge almost in spite of such processes. As the world grows more complex from rapid change in technology, lifestyles, markets and politics, it becomes increasingly difficult for strategists to interpret and exploit opportunities for long-term advantage with any certainty. Strategy is thus a dynamic and controversial field, but an understanding of it, and the ability to critically apply strategic thinking, is more important than ever in the twenty-first century work environment.

You will learn

Critical thinking skills: the course encourages you to adopt a critical perspective from the outset – not only supporting your detailed familiarisation with a range of theories and models, but also requiring you to take account of the circumstances and contexts in which these theories and models have been developed and applied. This is by no means a negative exercise; instead, the thorough grounding that the course offers will equip you with the skills to evaluate and select from a diverse body of knowledge guided by its appropriateness to the situation in question. This is a very important benefit from the point of view of how the course will enhance your employability. The challenges of contemporary management in whatever field necessitate precisely this kind of critically informed decision-making, rather than a sole reliance on established modes of thought.

Professional and key skills: In common with the other courses in the Business Studies programme, the course uses The Open University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with a particular focus on facilitating collaborative learning. Employers consistently give high priority to the skill of team-working when asked what they look for in graduates, and the course aims to give you ample opportunity to develop and demonstrate this vital professional accomplishment both face-to-face and online. Some assignments (TMAs) include important elements that require you to work with one or more colleagues, culminating in an extended group project in the second half of the course where you will carry out joint analysis of a major case study. This mode of study has the additional benefit of helping to address the potential isolation of being a distance learner, and allows you to learn with and from like-minded students supported by an expert tutor. The assignments will develop and demonstrate your skills in analysis, problem-solving, decision-making and information literacy.

Knowledge and Understanding of Strategy: There are six blocks in the course:

Block 1: Introducing strategy starts by examining some common definitions of strategy and teasing out their assumptions and implications. After an overview of the course content, you will be introduced to the fundamental skill of critical thinking and invited to see strategy as a social process that includes you both as learner and practitioner.

Block 2: Analysing your environment examines the ways in which organisations make sense of their external and internal environments, and discusses the strengths and limitations of each technique. Stakeholder management will also feature, leading to a consideration of the wider context (ethical, political and international) in which strategy takes place. 

Block 3: Strategic choices continues our critical examination of models and concepts espoused by strategists working broadly within the economic rational tradition. We explain the thinking behind common strategic moves, and relate the ways in which organisations make sense of their environments to how they select strategy to further their competitive and corporate aims.

Block 4: Collaborative analysis will extend your own analytical and decision-making skills, as you work with other students online on a case-based task. The block is activity-based and develops a combination of skills that are highly relevant to employability – team-working, information literacy and problem-solving. It presents an opportunity to relate theory to practice in a way that will increase your grasp of the debates around strategy and develop your confidence to engage in them. In addition, material developed in Block 4 contributes towards your mark for TMA 04. 

Block 5: Strategy implementation seeks to demystify what in many respects is the least well-understood aspect of strategy – putting plans into practice. It examines major influences on implementation such as culture and leadership. This block will also take account of an important focus of contemporary research, ‘strategy as practice’ – the close analysis of what strategists do –  in order to examine precisely how strategy ‘happens’ in organisations.

Block 6: Where next for strategy? – as a dynamic field, strategy needs to address the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world. This final block looks at some of the directions in which contemporary strategic thinking is moving, including complexity theory, which seeks to understand how organisations can co-evolve harmoniously and successfully with their continually changing environments.

Vocational relevance

The focus throughout the course on developing skills (cognitive, practical and professional) closely reflects the Quality Assurance Agency’s benchmark statement expectations for business studies and clearly expresses the course’s intention to enhance the employability of its students. Although it has a significant theoretical component, the course’s emphasis on practical application of strategic models also supports employability across a range of sectors.

Entry

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU.

The course is aimed at those who want a general overview of how modern organisations approach and carry out strategy. 

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

Outside the UK

This course is relevant to business students in both a UK and a non-UK context.

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. Musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. 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

Course books, study guide, other printed materials, website with audio resources.

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. They will mark and comment on your written work, and you can ask them 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.

There is also an assessed online collaborative activity - centred on a major case study.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2014. It will be available again in October 2014. We then expect it to be available once a year, in October.

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

“A tough course with a fearsome reputation in terms of both the amount of material, and the standard of work ...”
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“One of the most interesting courses I have done. This course provides a solid grounding knowledge in strategy and its ...”
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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 B301
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

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