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Ebusiness technologies: foundations and practice

Ebusiness is booming as organisations strive to gain efficiencies through improved workflows, resource management, just-in-time provisioning and business relationships. This module explores the driving forces behind such developments, introducing fundamental technologies and protocols upon which new systems and services can be built – including Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), web services, XML and associated security standards. Case studies illustrate a range of business models and the business strategies behind the deployment of web services as well as providing insights into future developments. You'll explore the evolution of ebusiness surrounding ICT developments; use software tools to create schemas and web services; deploy collaborating applications; and consolidate your learning in a final project.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
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Entry requirements
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What you will study

Internet and web technologies are driving fundamental changes in the way that businesses interact. This module will introduce you to underlying ebusiness models as well as the rapidly changing technologies and approaches to implementation underpinning these changes. The module will help you develop skills to enable you to interpret, select and utilise a shifting set of protocols and standards from the emerging technologies, based on close examination of a small set of core standards and knowledge gained from studying prevailing protocols and development technologies. You will use several development and testing tools, including Eclipse, soapUI and Active Endpoints Designer* during the module.

The module is organised into four blocks; Ebusiness, Basic Protocols, Web Services and Orchestration. Trust and security will be themes running through the module, alongside the social, political, technical and legal issues associated with new developments. Case studies draw together key features from each part, setting the scene for a substantive project where you will use your new skills to implement a web-services solution for a company.

Block 1, Ebusiness, will set the scene for the module by exploring how the internet has changed the way organisations do business. What has changed in terms of their internal structures and processes and their relationships with customers and suppliers? Drawing on established models and frameworks, you’ll develop a portfolio of skills to help you to identify the challenges and assess the benefits of new technology for an organisation, thereby bridging the gap between a business model and set of business requirements and an appropriate technological solution.

Block 2, Basic protocols, introduces the essential protocols and standards (such as HTTP and XML), that underpin the current web-services business paradigm. Key to this is the family of XML standards for describing, processing, and manipulating data exchanges between disparate systems. Design tools will enable you to develop and validate document schemas and construct messages for exchange between services.

Block 3, Web services, examines the technical and business motivations behind the development of web services. A historic perspective provides a context for web services technologies such as SOAP and REST and their emergence from the evolution of existing standards, such as HTTP and XML. Through a combination of case study and practical work you will implement, test, deploy and use web services to gain insight into their operation, strengths and weaknesses.

Block 4, Orchestration: Real web services perform small discrete tasks. Implementing a business process therefore requires multiple web services, which have to be organised temporally and procedurally. In order to orchestrate individual services you’ll learn about the business process execution language (BPEL). You'll use design tools to construct, validate, and test BPEL scripts and to understand approaches to handling failure and exceptions which occur in processes.

After completing the four blocks you will undertake a substantial individual project. This requires that you produce a considered assessment of ebusiness for use by an organisation and also apply the tools used during the module to provide sample technology demonstrations for the organisation.

The duration of this 30-credit module is 30 weeks requiring around 10 study hours per week.  These hours are only a guide and you may take more or less time according to your study pace.

If you are considering progressing to The computing and IT project (TM470), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.

* The Open University gratefully acknowledges Active Endpoints, Inc for the use of the ActiveBPEL designer tool.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be allocated to a tutor who will offer support through electronic communication and group tutorials. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your project individually with your tutor.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service 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 must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is an individual project, which must also be submitted electronically. The project will account for approximately a third of your study time on this module. Each assessment component (TMA and project) consists of practical work and a written report, with the exception of the first TMA which is made up entirely of a written report.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.


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.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU. 

You need a familiarity with communication technology, and language and modelling techniques used by technologists, such as you would get from appropriate modules at OU level 2 offered by the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology, or their equivalent. Communication and information technologies (T215) would be particularly useful.  Alternatively, an understanding of computer networks and network protocols (e.g. TCP/IP), and an awareness of security issues would provide appropriate relevant background knowledge.

You should be experienced in using a computer for working with documents, spreadsheets and accessing the World Wide Web. You also need good writing and basic mathematical skills so that you can produce a well-structured report and work with basic algebraic equations and carry out numerical calculations.

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

Preparatory work

You should revise the material on communication technology in any OU level 2 modules you have already taken (e.g. Block 2 in the discontinued module T209). T529, the ICT CD-ROM distributed with a number of ICT modules, is also a useful source of revision material.


Start End Fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 Not yet available

Registration opens on 12/03/15

October 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

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 annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

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

Employer sponsorship

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

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification 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 modules.  

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. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

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

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.

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 fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees for courses starting from 1 August 2015 will be available in March 2015.
This information was provided on 26/01/2015.

What's included

This module is presented online via the module website, which gives access to the study materials in electronic format, online forums and other online resources. There are no printed texts but you will receive two DVDs, one containing module software and one containing module-related videos.

You will need

You will need an internet connection to access documents and work with a hosting service for testing web service designs. This may mean extra charges to your telephone bill unless you have a package that provides unlimited access to the internet. As the module is delivered online, you will be spending most of your studying time using online materials.

In order to successfully run the module software, we recommend that you have a minimum of 1GB of memory (RAM) on the computer that you will use for your studies.

If you are running Windows 7 you will need administrator access in order to run the module software.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some module software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile device is not suitable for this module – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this module by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

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

If you have a disability

The text for this module will be delivered electronically. This will probably be as Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files, rather than web pages. 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. Written transcripts of any audio components will be available. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

The module will also require you to use some sophisticated software tools, such as Eclipse. If you use special hardware or software you must, well before the module begins, find out whether it will work with the module software.

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. Find out more about our services for disabled students.