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Business organisations and their environments

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 module 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 module, 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 module is taught mainly via the internet and you'll take part in an online collaboration with other students.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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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 module 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 module 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 module 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 module are that it:

  • explores current global, regional and local issues in business supported by relevant and interesting examples
  • explores the current state of academic knowledge and ideas of some classic business scholars in a guided way
  • makes creative use of online technologies to enhance the teaching and learning of business organisations and their environments
  • challenges your thinking and perceptions of business organisations and their relationship with the society we live in
  • 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 module 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 module 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?

Supporting study materials
Throughout the module, 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 module will prepare you with practical skills that are in line with the QAA benchmark statement expectations for business studies.

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 module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module 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

Business organisations and their environments starts once a year – October 2018 is the last time we expect it to start.


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

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    No residential school

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

    Entry requirements

    The module 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 an OU level 2 module and if you have no previous experience of studying business , it is strongly recommended that you first study An introduction to business and management (B100) (or its equivalent).

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 -

    Registration now closed

    October 2018 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 19/09/2018.

    What's included

    Main study material, four blocks in 29 weekly texts including extra resources and activity material, are provided online. Three module readers, a book of supplementary readings, a module 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

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying B201 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.