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An introduction to business and management

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This key introductory OU level 1 module provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to business and management in a globalised world. Through readings and international case studies you’ll explore a wide range of topics in contemporary business and management: what motivates people to work; how to assess financial soundness of a business; what attracts customers; how economic crises affect businesses; and ethical challenges in business and management. Using a blend of text, audio video and interactive online activities, you’ll develop vital skills for study and for work in business, public or voluntary sector organisations.

What you will study

Businesses make up a hugely significant aspect of global society and provide both goods and services for people to use and employment for a large proportion of the population. This introduction to the fascinating world of business consists of seven blocks of materials that cover a wide range of topics in contemporary business. Each block consists of a Readings book in addition to an online study planner and interactive online activities. A wide variety of case studies are used to enhance your learning through application to real world situations. Two large case studies of real, international companies - one of them in video form – will help you understand the complexities of business and management and how different aspects of a business work together.

In Block 1 you will learn what a business is and what distinguishes it from other types of organisations in the public and voluntary sector. You will gain a first insight into a business’s external environment and its main business functions, as well as into the nature of organisational structures, cultures and values.

In Blocks 2, 3 and 4 you will learn about three of the main business functions: human resources management, accounting and finance and marketing.

Block 2 looks at the people at work. You will explore what motivates people to work, and how organisations select, train and evaluate employees. Throughout the block you will learn about both the techniques that organisations use to manage their employees and how these human resource management techniques are perceived by and impact on the people working in the organisation.

Block 3 will give you an accessible introduction to financial information for business. In this block you will learn how to read and interpret the main financial statements produced in a business, a crucial skill for any student of business and management.

Block 4 is about marketing. You will explore the importance of marketing in a business and how a marketing plan is put together, including the collection of marketing research, understanding customer behaviour and tailoring products and services to meet customer requirements. You will also learn about the significant role that marketing plays in contemporary consumer society.

In Blocks 5, 6 and 7 you will explore the way in which business is embedded in its external environment.

Block 5 is about the economic and political context in which businesses and other organisations operate. You will learn about topics such as supply and demand, the economic system, the role of central banks, and about the role of governments in making economic policy and regulating businesses.

Block 6 introduces you to the subject of business ethics. Businesses regularly face difficult ethical challenges, such as whether to use sweatshops to produce more cheaply or how to balance environmental concerns with the desire for growth. In this block you will explore some ethical theories that can help you to think through these issues.

Block 7 concludes the module with a look at the global context in which businesses operate. No matter how small a business may be, it will be influenced by globalisation. You will learn about what globalisation actually means, what drives it and how it impacts upon businesses. The block concludes with a look at some of the key challenges posed by globalisation.

Taken together this module offers a broad and engaging introduction to the fundamentals of business and management in its global context.

Entry requirements

This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

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

What's included

Module website, including online study calendar, interactive online activities, video and audio materials and links to assessment resources; 7 books of Readings

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. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

While you study this module you will be supported by your tutor in face to face and online tutorials. Your tutor will facilitate online discussions with your fellow students in your tutor group forum and will be available for individual queries and help if you need it. Your tutor will also mark your tutor marked assignments and give you feedback on your progress.


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).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying B100 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

An introduction to business and management starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018 and February 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2023.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination
No residential school

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