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

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

Block 4 focuses on marketing, its importance in a business and how a marketing plan is put together. This includes collecting marketing research, understanding customer behaviour and tailoring products and services to meet customer requirements. You'll also learn about the significant role that marketing plays in contemporary consumer society.

In Blocks 5, 6 and 7, you'll 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'll 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'll 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'll learn what globalisation actually means, what drives it and how it impacts businesses. The block concludes with a look at some of the key challenges posed by globalisation.

In summary, 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

You’ll be provided with seven printed module books, each covering one block of study, and have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials, including interactive online activities
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

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 2024 and February 2025. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2027.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

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