Supply chain management

Supply chain networks are recognised as the organisational form that assures business sustainability through supply continuity. Supply chain management is a fundamental skill in today’s competitive business environment, and organisations that excel in this function see the benefit in their performance. This module will provide you with an in-depth insight into supply chain theory, design and best practice, taking into account issues such as ethics, sustainability and risk management. This will enable you to question and reflect upon your own organisation and its role in the supply chain. 


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 postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This online module is designed for those who want to gain a sound knowledge of, and insight into, supply chain management. It will appeal to supply chain professionals as well as managers in other professions.

You'll be provided with an in-depth insight into the theory, problems, solutions, and best practice in the area of supply chain management. You'll have opportunities to question and reflect upon your own organisation and its role in the wider supply chain. It will also help you to develop your ability to identify opportunities for improvement of product design, manufacturing processes, sourcing strategies, and market development.

This module is made up of the following nine units:

  • Unit 1 introduces you to the core concepts of supply chain management and reviews how supply chain management has become a fundamental function for organisations in today’s business environment.
  • Unit 2 focuses on the performance objectives of supply chains and on two particular types of supply chain – lean supply chains and agile supply chains – looking at how performance is measured in each of them.
  • Unit 3 gives you an insight into supply chain design concerning how organisations optimise control and performance through either vertical integration or outsourcing processes and activities.
  • In Unit 4 you'll participate in a practical simulation of managing a typical, but simplified, supply chain and learn from the challenges you encounter in attempting to address the problems generated by supply chain dynamics. This work will be assessed through a reflective tutor-marked assessment that will encourage you to relate your knowledge and experience to theory and identify the challenges of implementing best practice.
  • The four subsequent units cover supply chain relationships; sustainability from environmental, ethical and economical perspectives; risk and the actions that managers take to avoid loss from unforeseen events, and supply chain costs and financial issues.
  • In the final unit you'll study in more depth the supply chains within three specific areas including the public sector, the mining sector and automotive sector.

The module aims to develop an understanding of:

  • the nature of supply chain management, and approaches to address the relevant business decisions in this area.
  • supply chain management theories, including supply chain dynamics, supply chain risk management, and supplier relationship management
  • the impact of the external context on supply chain decision making, including internationalisation and globalisation, current social and technological changes, and government policies and regulation.
  • the challenges of implementing supply chain solutions in context.

You will learn

On completion of the module you will:

  • understand what is meant by supply chain management and the activities involved in its effective practice
  • understand the concept of supply chain dynamics, be aware of the potential solutions to demand amplification and the difficulties of implementing effective solutions
  • be aware of the types of supply chain risk, their impact on supply chain effectiveness and organisation viability
  • conduct analysis of supply chains to identify strengths and weaknesses in their design and performance
  • demonstrate reflective and critical thinking by writing reports that investigate, analyse and critique supply chain practices.
  • understand the challenges of your own supply chain practice.

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 assignments and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You will contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the BB849 website.

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 must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Professional recognition

If you’re considering studying this module as part of the MBA, then if you also study Sustainable creative management (BB842), the MBA would be recognised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK as you can demonstrate the sector-specific skills and knowledge to the standards required of a Chartered Member with CILT(UK).


Course work includes

1 Tutor-marked assignment (TMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Supply chain management starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in May 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2024.


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.

    Entry requirements

    You will need to ensure that you have the knowledge and experience to study at postgraduate level. Please note that if you wish to study this module as part of a qualification you must meet the entry requirements for that qualification and any requirements regarding the order of study.

    The module requires 150 hours of study over six months.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    06 May 2023 Oct 2023 £1600.00

    Registration closes 13/04/23 (places subject to availability)

    04 Nov 2023 Apr 2024 £1680.00

    Registration closes 12/10/23 (places subject to availability)

    04 May 2024 Oct 2024 £1680.00

    Registration opens on 01/09/23

    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2024.

    Future availability

    Supply chain management starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in May 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2024.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

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

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    An extensive variety of specially written resources presented in different media (print and online) and designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material, published articles, case-studies, a set of interactive tools to help you develop your management thinking abilities and access to The Open University library.  

    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 (11 'Big Sur' 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.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

    Elements of this module are delivered online and include the use of real-time online discussions and an interactive whiteboard space; consequently time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    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. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.