MSc/PgDip Business Economics
Portsmouth University
School of Economics

 

CURRICULUM

Stage 1: ECONOMICS & THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

(8 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The course is designed for students who have no background in economic analysis. It has a dual function; to introduce fundamental economic concepts relating to business decision taking, and secondly to show how business is affected by interrelationships in the national and international economic environment.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Teaching will be by a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical sessions utilising computer spreadsheet courseware and packages where appropriate. Although the subject begins at a level appropriate for those with no previous experience of the subject, it progresses quickly. To this end regular test sheets will be used to emphasise the problem-solving role of economic models.

SYLLABUS

Introduction: Taking decisions; internal and external context of decision making; modelling; optimisation.

Consumer demand; production functions and technical efficiency; cost functions and productive efficiency.

Business objectives in a market context; existence of firms; market structures and allocative efficiency; factor markets.

An introduction to macroeconomic analysis; Keynesian and Monetarist theory. Government macroeconomic and industrial policies.

The analysis of international trade. Comparative advantage; factor endowments and the Heckscher Ohlin theory. Empirical tests and alternative trade theories. Commercial policy. The theory of tariffs; non-tariff barriers to trade; arguments for protection. Trade Institutions.

Open-economy macroeconomics. Exchange rate regimes; adjustment policies; internal and external equilibrium.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 1: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

(5 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

To provide a general introduction to the use of Information Technology in business organisations and to familiarise students with essential hardware and software concepts. To enable students to use industry standard products for the analysis and presentation of business information.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Teaching will be by lectures and computer-based practical sessions.

SYLLABUS

Introduction. Business information, analysis, presentation and communication.

Hardware and software. Personal computers, operating systems and software categories. Wordprocessors, spreadsheets, database systems, etc. File handling and disk management. Printers and printer drivers.

Data analysis and presentation. The use of spreadsheets and other packages for the construction of tables, charts and graphs.

Problem-solving, modelling and decision making with a spreadsheet. "What-if" analysis. Optimisation and goal-seeking.

Database concepts and applications. Files, records and fields. Storing and accessing information. Editing, sorting and querying. Bibliographic databases.

Electronic business information. Online databases and CD-ROM.

Business communications. Electronic mail and computer conferencing.

 
Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 1: ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE

(5 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

This course is devised to give students a comprehensive understanding of basic accounting principles and techniques as they presently exist in the United Kingdom.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

A weekly lecture supported by weekly seminars. During the seminar time students will work through both prepared and new material building upon their lecture notes. The integrated assessment programme provides an opportunity for the student to understand the aims and needs of the accounting function and to be able to relate to those aims.

SYLLABUS

Accounting

Differences in business ownership and their respective sources of finance; the rationale for accounting; the accounting equation; the structure of a manual accounting system; the nature of debits and credits; bad debts, depreciation and stock valuation; the trial balance as a foundation to the final accounts; Final accounts.

 

Assessment

75% Examination 25% Course Assessment


Stage 1: QUANTITATIVE METHODS

(5 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

To provide a foundation in the essential quantitative techniques and methods which are needed in business economics. To build on whatever knowledge of mathematics and statistics students already possess. To show how quantitative methods can be used in formulating and solving problems in business economics.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Lectures will provide a general introduction to each topic and there will be a series of classes to go through excercises and problems with students. However, because of the anticipated variations in ability and knowledge amongst students, the course will be based on a number of specially written study packs geared towards self-paced independent learning, each culminating in a test sheet. Each student will be seen individually at least twice during the course in a surgery session where guidance will be given on how to use the study material. Where a student has studied a topic before he/she will be permitted to proceed straight to the test sheet.

SYLLABUS

Simple economic models in mathematical form. Variables, functions, parameters and solutions.

Marginal analysis and optimisation. Derivatives, rates of exchange, elasticities and optimisation.

Linear programming. Objective function, constraints and graphical solutions. The dual.

Describing statistical data. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions.

Probability and probability distributions. Rules of probability, random variables and probability density functions.

Statistical inference. Estimation and hypothesis testing. Sampling distributions.

Regression analysis. Least squares regression. Goodness of fit and test statistics.

Assessment

Assessment will be 100% examination, based on the test sheets for each topic.


Stage 2: BUSINESS ECONOMICS

(9 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The course is designed for students who wish to examine the importance and application of economic analysis and research to managerial decision making. This course will concentrate on the problems of optimal decision making within the firms own internal constraints, emphasing the short to medium term decisions associated with market mix planning as well as introducing the more long term considerations of corporate strategy. It should be stressed that the emphasis in this case is not on teaching theories that can be applied, but rather to use problems and cases as a means of teaching and understanding the relevance of theories and research.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

As stated above the emphasis in this course is on a practical approach to business decision making. To facilitate this objective the course will make use of case studies as a framework within which problems can be solved and the theories of economics utilised. The course will also make use of relevant examples from invited speakers and departmental research and consultancy. At all stages use will be made of appropriate commercial and specifically designed software packages as an aid to decision making.

SYLLABUS

The objectives of the firm: profit maximisation vs sales revenue, growth and utility maximisation, managerial vs behavioural models, empirical results.

The marketing mix: concepts and theories of mix analysis, elements of the mix, product, price, promotion and planning. Interdependency in the marketing mix.

Pricing theory and practice: transfer pricing, joint product pricing, Discriminatory pricing, empirical studies of pricing practice and strategies.

Product policy and planning, new product policy, product development, characteristics analysis and goals, product placement and distribution.

Promotion and advertising, theory and practice of advertising, models of advertising allocations and decision making.

Applications of decision making under risk and uncertainty: Risk analysis, expected value criterion, adjustment for risk in decision making.

Operations Research, techniques and theories of operations research, linear programming, network analysis, PERT, queuing theory, transportation problems.

Inventory analysis, economic order quantity theory, minimum inventory levels, optimum stock-holding levels, problems of certainty and uncertainty.

Introduction to corporate strategy and the problems of long term planning.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 2: ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE II

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The course is devised to advance students from the first stage of Accountancy and Finance course and to introduce them to practical aspects of accounting in a computer context. There will be an awareness of the role of the accountant as the holder of one of the major business informational databases.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

In recognition of the considerable I.T. content of this course teaching will be by way of hands on computer experience using documentation prepared for processing. This will be supported by more conventional explanatory seminar sessions.

SYLLABUS

Accounting

The codification of accounts; batch control of documents; computer processing of accounting documents; auditing of computer accounting systems; Final adjustments in the context of a computer operation.

Management Accounting

Budget preparation and accounting; principles of overhead recovery; management reporting including analysis of major variances.

Accounting Systems

Microcomputers and networking in relation to accounting software; remote operation of accounting packages; security of accounting information.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework

 


Stage 2: BUSINESS FORECASTING

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

To introduce students to the main concepts and techniques used in producing and evaluating business forecasts and to develop practical forecasting skills.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Techniques will be presented in relation to practical problems and data sets, with a strong emphasis on the use of computer software for model fitting and validation.

SYLLABUS

Forecasting for managerial decision making: the role of forecasting in business. Different forecasting techniques for different decision making situations. Information sets, time horizons and cost functions. Stationary and non-stationary series.

Smoothing and trending methods. Exponential smoothing, moving average and decomposition models. Linear and non-linear trends.

Causal models and econometric methods. Regression models. Specification, estimation and testing procedures. Problems of multicollinearity, autocorrelation and heteroskedasticity. Dummy variables and logarithmic transformations. Forecasts and forecast intervals.

An introduction to Time-Series (ARIMA) models. Autoregressive models, mixed autoregressive moving average models. Trends, seasonality and differencing. The correlogram and partial correlogram. The cycle of model selection, estimation, verification and interpretation.

The Evaluation and combination of forecasts. Mean square error, Thiel's U statistic. Sources of error in forecasts. Introducing judgemental adjustments.

Computer software for forecasting. Data sources, including electronic on-line databases.

Assessment

Assessment will be based on an unseen examination (75%) and a practical case study report (25%).


Stage 2: HUMAN RESOURCE ECONOMICS

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

This course aims to provide an understanding of the functioning of the labour market and of how issues relating to this concept are taken into account in economic decision-making within the firm. It is also a conceptual framework for the subsequent study of Human Resource Planning.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

To achieve the above aim, the course will use a mixture of learning situations as appropriate to the material being covered. The more rigorous analytical sections will utilise lectures and discussion (seminar) groups; a more student-based learning approach based on group and individual work with case study and local labour market information will be adopted to develop the student's awareness of the ways in which the analytical concepts can be applied.

SYLLABUS

Wage theory. Empirical and theoretical aspects of labour supply and demand. Wage and employment determination under different labour market conditions.

Economic aspects of trade union and collective behaviour. Types of unions, history, growth, structure, aims and objectives. Wage determination under unionism and collective bargaining. Unions, relative wages and resource allocation.

Wage inflation, unemployment, job search, education and economic equality.

Wage structure. Occupational and skill differentials, human capital theory, industrial wage structure, income distribution, regional and inter-industry wage differentials.

Internal labour markets. Discrimination in labour markets. Local labour markets and networks. Segmented labour markets. Inflation and labour markets. Efficiency and distribution in labour markets.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 2: ECONOMIC ISSUES IN BUSINESS POLICY

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

This course aims to increase the students awareness of the business environment. In doing so it seeks to provide a course where common practice may not cover all the issues that a business strategist may require in the future. As such the course will help students be conversant with some leading current issues affecting business policy making not always addressed in the business arena.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

This is a seminar based course in which short research and survey papers written by staff, and which have been previously distributed to students, are discussed. The implications of the topics under analysis for the firms and research interests of the students are then to be discussed and some formally distilled into assessed submissions.

SYLLABUS

The Firm

The motives for the existence of a pro-active business strategy.

Business policy and a financial awareness

Exchange rates, level of interest rates, structure of interest rates, financial institutions and the EC, leading indicators (other than those previously mentioned).

Business policy and an environmental awareness

Environmental audit, green consumerism, energy efficiency and responses to enhanced pollution controls targeting and legislation.

 

Assessment

25% Examination 75% Coursework


Stage 2: CORPORATE FINANCE

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

This course relates the literature in financial economics to the realities of business. In doing so it seeks to provide a practically relevant course for those likely to pursue a future career in the business sphere.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

The course will adopt a flexible approach to teaching methods depending upon the individual subject matter. A considerable proportion of this course can take advantage of empirical investigations and this means of exploration will be used where appropriate. In other instances the case study approach will be educationally beneficial.

SYLLABUS

The Investment Decision

Traditional investment techniques reconsidered; mean-variance analysis; Optimal portfolio choice; CAPM: the theoretical and empirical; Arbitrage Pricing Theory.

The Financing Decision

Capital structure theory; dividend policy: the theory and empirical evidence; Economics of Leasing; Theoretical and Empirical investigations of the Efficient Market Hypothesis; Option pricing theory; Applied issues in Corporate Finance.

Assessment

75% Examination 25% Coursework


Stage 2: THE WORLD ECONOMY

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

This course is designed to help students to understand current economic issues relevant to the international economic environment. While the major part of the course concentrates on the three pillars of the world economy, Western Europe, the USA and Japan, an examination will also be made of those international economic problems facing Eastern Europe and Latin America which have an important bearing on the operation of the global economy.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Teaching will be by a combination of lectures and tutorials. The lectures are important for establishing the scope of a subject which, in concept, is very extensive. The tutorials focus particularly on the skill of collecting data and writing reports on these potential overseas markets.

SYLLABUS

Western Europe

The theory of economic integration and the European Community. Static and dynamic effects of integration. Micro and macroeconomic policies. 1992 and the position of the UK.

USA

Economic structure, government policy and productivity growth. International economic issues: balance of payments, capital flows and debt; North American economic integration; trade relations with the European Community and with Japan.

Japan

Economic structure and organisation; economic performance and structural change since the 1950s. Japan and the international economy: trade performance, balance of payments and international investment; economic relations.

Latin America

The foreign debt crisis and responses to it, particularly the policy shift from maintenance of a highly protected industrial economy towards a more open system. Renewed interest in formation of sub-regional or continental economic blocs.

Eastern Europe

Development of foreign trade relations in post-war period. Constraints on trade with Western Europe; problem of currency/goods inconvertibility and technological backwardness. Economic reform in Eastern Europe and its dependence on economic relations with Western Europe. Prospects for the successful transition from 'socialism' to 'capitalism' in Eastern Europe.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 2: ECONOMIC ORGANISATION AND CORPORATE

STRATEGY
(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The course examines the implications of economic analysis and research for intra-firm organisation. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between organisational structure and the efficiency of strategic/entrepreneurial decision taking. Although the analysis is often couched in terms appropriate to private firms, modern developments make the analysis increasingly relevant to the public sector.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Teaching will be by a combination of lectures and tutorials. Lectures will identify the focus of a subject which is both complex and very fast-moving. The tutorials will be of crucial importance in allowing students to specialise on particular organisational forms and issues that are of interest to them. This will allow for a division of labour with a synergistic outcome.

SYLLABUS

The existence of firms - Coase and the transactions cost paradigm. Principal and agent. Hierarchies and divisionalisation; diversified, conglomerate and multinational variants of the M-form firm.

Firms as adaptive organisations; Schumpterian and Penrosian views on the function of the entrepreneur. The New Competition and process oriented models of the firm. Industrial restructuring.

Assessment

50% Examination 50% Coursework


Stage 2: HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING

(6 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of this course is to apply the issues and conceptual framework provided by the course in Human Resource Economics to the topic of strategic planning of labour resources within an organisation. Its function is to change the focus of analysis in order to show how an understanding of the analysis of labour markets can be employed in making strategic decisions concerning human resources both in a macroeconomic environment but more particularly at the level of the individual enterprise.

TEACHING METHODS & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

The course will be delivered so as to stress the concepts of student-centred learning and interactive awareness. Traditional lecturing will be employed as necessary both in order to explain difficult or intangible issues and to provide an overall structure and direction to the course. However, as much use as possible will be made of case studies, role plays, simulations, video, exercises and experiential activities. It is envisaged that the concept of an open-book seen case study exercise will play a prominent role in the final formal examination.

SYLLABUS

Strategic Aspects of Human Resource Policy. Flexible labour practices, quality of working life, work re-organisation and job re-design. Post-Fordism. Aspects of organisational design and development. Payment structures and reward systems. Motivation and job satisfaction. Leadership, management and supervisory skills. Aspects of organisational behaviour. Wages and employment after privatisation. Productivity growth and technological innovation. Aspects of the training and development debate. Skills shortages and government policy approaches.

Manpower Planning. Manpower stocks and flows. Equilibrium and manpower systems. Cross-sectional models. Longitudinal models. Optimisation models. Aspects of human resource planning: job analysis and design, recruitment and selection, performance appraisal, compensation administration, employee benefits, collective bargaining and costs, personnel audits. Information technology. The use of microcomputers in human resource planning.

Assessment

75% Examination 25% Coursework


Stage 3: THE DISSERTATION

(40 credit points)

OBJECTIVES

The Dissertation is an investigation of a closely specified topic or problem in a selected area relevant to the content of the Course. It will be presented in the form of a report of between 15,000 and 20,000 words.

By providing an opportunity for original thought and independent judgement, the Dissertation aims to contribute to the self-development of the student and to provide an indication of his or her research capability and potential.

ORGANISATION

Although full-time work on the Dissertation cannot begin until Stage II has been successfully completed, preparatory work will commence half-way through the second phase of Stage II. The procedure is as follows:

    1. In the second week of May the Postgraduate Business Tutor will introduce all students to the question of the Dissertation. They will be provided with a detailed document setting out the nature and purpose of the excercise, how to choose a topic and appropriate supervisor, the timetable for submission of drafts, conventions used in presentation of the report and examination arrangements.
    2. By the end of May all students will be expected to have registered a topic which will be the subject of an Inception Report. The Inception Report will be approximately 2,000 words and will be presented to a Meeting of staff and students in the Department of Economics. All students will be required to submit this report before the end of Stage II but it will not be formally assessed. The Inception Report is thought to be valuable quite apart from its function as the first stage in the generation of a Dissertation. Thus regardless of whether there is progression beyond the Postgraduate Diploma, the Report will require the identification of a topic or problem and the derivation of framework of analysis using concepts and skills covered on the Course. The presentation will be in the form of a business report with emphasis on a systematic approach and clarity of exposition.
    3. Those students proceeding to the MSc will use the Inception Report as a Dissertation Proposal and work will commence full-time at the beginning of June.
    4. An Interim Draft of between 6,000 and 8,000 words will be submitted by the end of September.
    5. The final draft will be presented by the end of the second week of December.
SUPERVISION

Each student will be assigned a Dissertation Supervisor whose specific functions will be to:

    1. Meet the student regularly, provide general advice and guidance and monitor progress.
    2. Assist the student in understanding and applying relevant research methods.
    3. Advise on the correct procedure for literature search and the development of an appropriate methodology.
    4. Maintain a record of each meeting, which can be made available to the student and the Board of Studies.
    5. Assess the Dissertation as part of the procedure for examination.
 

FORMAT AND PRESENTATION

The complete Dissertation will normally be between 15,000 and 20,000 words, excluding appendices. Three bound typewritten copies in double spacing on single-sided A4 paper will be required. These are to be submitted no later than the second week of December.

 

ASSESSMENT

The supervisor will be responsible for first-marking the Dissertation. The Second Marker will be selected by the Board of Studies and, in cases of disagreement, a third marker will be invited to arbitrate. Dissertations may also be reviewed by the External Examiner.