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Master of Business Administration


This internationally recognised MBA course is designed for practising managers aspiring to higher positions. The emphasis for your learning is directly rooted in management practice – the ‘master’ in the degree title signifies your ‘mastery’ of the art and science of management. To achieve this level of capability the programme concentrates on strategic analysis, interdisciplinary skills, intellectual stimulation and independent judgement and builds these upon a solid foundation of core disciplines, including human resource management, organisational behaviour, accounting and finance, marketing and operations.

The MBA course is designed as an integrated programme, and balances your learning time between 75% of compulsory elements (including the final organisation-based project) with 25% from optional modules. This enables you to adjust the curriculum to suit your needs. MBA modules are challenging but will always direct you towards improving your management capabilities. You will need to have some experiential knowledge at a managerial level and/or of decision-making, so that you have a practical business base on which to build your MBA learning.

You will learn to analyse, synthesise and evaluate a wide range of situations within the broad framework of organisations, their external context and internal management. Among these you will look at economic, environmental, social and technological change issues, corporate governance, markets and customers, managing resources and operations, financing organisations, management and development of people, developing information technologies for application in business and management within a global knowledge-based economy, and development of appropriate business policies and strategies within a changing context to meet stakeholder interests.

The Open University Business School is accredited internationally by the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS); by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); and the MBA is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Only a select group of less than 60 business schools worldwide have this triple-accredited status.

Planning your studies

All entrants to the MBA are required to have a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, professional or technical role. Usually this means that you are at least 25 years old as it is unusual (but not impossible) to be able to satisfy the ‘experience’ requirement under this age.

Depending on your previous qualifications, there are a variety of routes into the MBA:

If you already hold an honours degree awarded by a recognised UK university, or equivalent you can begin your MBA studies by taking MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716).

Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree please contact us. The Open University Business School Masters Programme Committee is responsible for judging whether applicants’ qualifications meet the requirements for admission.

If you are experienced in managerial work but do not have an honours degree or equivalent you need first to gain our Professional Certificate in Management (S01) (previously coded C31). This is also a valuable qualification in its own right.

If you have the equivalent of a UK bachelors degree without honours you may be permitted to progress on to the MBA course by taking the first part of the Professional Certificate in Management, Managing 1: organisations and people (B628). Alternatively if you have an official Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score of 640 or above, and the equivalent of a UK undergraduate degree, you will be allowed to progress directly on to the MBA. If you think either of these possibilities may apply to you, please speak to an adviser.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 6.5 under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

The MBA qualification is in two stages and typically takes three years to complete based on a regular study of 12-16 hours per week, which experience shows us is the practical limit for a full-time manager balancing study with career and family responsibilities. You are allowed up to a maximum of seven years to complete your MBA.

Stage 1

Stage 1 consists of the MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716). This 60-credit module takes 12 months to complete. It is an integrated module covering all the core disciplines which make up the MBA curriculum. You must pass Stage 1 before proceeding onto Stage 2. If you have successfully completed either of the now discontinued modules B700 or B713 these can also be counted as Stage 1 of the MBA.

Stage 2

Your first Stage 2 module is The dynamics of strategy (BB835) followed by Corporate finance (BB831).

You then study 45 credits of optional (or 'elective') modules. Most of these elective modules are rated at 15 credits. Please note that the 30-credit module Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility (W822) starts in November each year and that Business operations: delivering value (T883) is available for the last time in May 2015. If you take two 30-credit modules you can only count 45 credits towards your MBA.

To complete your MBA, you then take a 30-credit compulsory action-learning based project module, Making a difference: the management initiative (B839). This is typically undertaken in your own organisation (though this is not a requirement) which enables you to demonstrate your mastery of the art of management. Although you study this module last, you will find that preparation for it begins with your first module and is embedded throughout your MBA studies.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Career relevance and employability

Employers value the MBA as an indication of high level business and management skills. These skills are in demand, increasingly so in times of economic uncertainty, and employers want practical experience, a thorough grasp of business, and the ability to lead at a strategic level. AMBA’s careers survey shows that MBA students can expect their salary to increase, and the MBA to have a positive impact on their career progression, as well as bring improvements to their organisation or business.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

60 credits from the following compulsory Stage 1 module (to be successfully completed before progressing to Stage 2):

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716)

This MBA module will enable you make a real difference within your management practice and provide a good grounding in the core disciplines of management.

See full description

60 Nov 2015

or the discontinued modules B700, B713, BZX700

And 45 credits from the following compulsory Stage 2 modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
The dynamics of strategy (BB835)

This module will help you gain an understanding of the frameworks of strategy and help you to use these imaginatively within your organisation.

See full description

30 Nov 2015
Corporate finance (BB831)

This module will help you develop the knowledge needed to tackle the main financial issues that you are likely to encounter in your organisation.

See full description

15 Nov 2015

Or the discontinued B831, B835 and a 45-credit examination towards Stage 2.

And 45 credits from the following optional (or 'elective') Stage 2 modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility (W822)

This module examines the nature of corporate commitment to principles of corporate social responsibility in different contexts and its inter-relationship with human rights law.

See full description

30 Nov 2015
Entrepreneurship: experience and perspective (BB846)

This module looks at the challenges of creating and developing entrepreneurial ventures and helps you develop your own venture or engage with other entrepreneurial organisations.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Leadership and management in intercultural contexts (BB848)

This module examines the conceptions of leadership and management in different cultures and the expectations these raise in different cultural settings.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Management beyond the mainstream (BB847)

This module looks at some important limitations of mainstream management thinking and explores a variety of alternatives to it – some longstanding, some recently developed.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Managing financial risk (BB841)

This module explores the nature of the risks that confront all institutions and how exposure to that risk can both be measured and managed.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Marketing in the 21st century (BB844)

This module explores the issues that emerge from marketing planning and uses current theories and examples to show how organisations deal with environmental challenges.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Strategic human resource management (BB845)

This module explores the different aspects of human resource management and helps you understand and influence decisions regarding the management of human resources within organisations.

See full description

15 Nov 2015
Sustainable creative management (BB842)

This module explores creative, innovative and sustainable ways of developing and managing organisations and offers practical approaches for developing yourself, your team and your organisation.

See full description

15 Nov 2015

or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued module T882

And 30 credits from the following compulsory Stage 2 module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Making a difference: the management initiative (B839)

This module enables you to integrate your learning from the MBA programme through undertaking a self-directed real-time management initiative of your own choosing.

See full description

30 Nov 2015

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a Master of Business Administration entitling you to use the letters MBA (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F61
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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