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A Level Business Studies Home Learning Course - Online

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  • Academic Title
    AS +A2 = A level in Business Studies. Both AS and A2 level courses and examinations must be successfully completed to gain a full A level.
  • Course description
    Course Summary
    On completion of our A Level Business Studies course, students will have:
    Developed a wide range of important problem-solving and decision-making business skills.

    Explored many of the legal and financial aspects of starting and developing a business.

    Developed an understanding of the internal business structures of various organisational types and the ability to co-ordinate efficient functioning in the contemporary and modern business world.
    Knowledge of the external business environment and the various economic factors that can underlie the functioning of businesses.

    Knowledge of the various prominent forces that can affect the business performance and enact changes and how to deal with these elements of change when they do arise.

    Discover the importance of stakeholders in the business including customers, creditors, shareholders, employees and how they can affect the course of direction of the business.

    Acquiring and developing core transferable skills in business.

    Development of responsible business management capabilities including planning, organising and problem-solving

    Course Content
    An outline of what is offered in our A Level Business Studies course:

    AS Level
    Unit 1: BUSS1 – Planning and Financing a Business
    • Business start-up guide
    • How to finance small businesses

    Unit 2: BUSS2 – Concepts of Business Management• Financial management
    • Importance of Human Resources
    • Operations Management
    • Marketing and the Competitive environment

    A2 Level
    Unit 3: BUSS3 – Strategies for Success
    • Functional Objectives and Strategies.
    • Financial Strategies and Accounts
    • Marketing Strategies
    • Operational Strategies
    • Human Resource Strategies

    Unit 4: BUSS4 – The Business Environment and Managing Change• Corporate Aims and Objectives
    • Assessing changes to the Business Environment
    • Change Management

    Course Overview

    Unit 1: BUSS1 – Planning and Financing a Business
    Business start-up guideThis section provides students with an introduction to the scope of Business Studies within the context of starting a new business. 

    Enterprise - What is a business Enterprise? The Business Entrepreneur, Risks and Rewards, Opportunity Cost, How to Become an Entrepreneur, Ways to get Government Support for Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.

    Generating and protecting business ideas - Sources / Opportunities for finding business Ideas, Identifying market or product niches, what are Franchises? Copyright, patents and trademarks.

    Transforming Resources into Goods and Services - Inputs, outputs and the nature of the transformation of resources into finished products, and adding value.

    Business Planning - The purpose and contents of business plans, Sources of information and guidance.

    How to Conduct Market Research for Business Start-Ups - Methods of primary and secondary market research, Qualitative and quantitative research, Size and types of samples, Factors influencing the choice of sampling methods.

    Understanding Markets - The nature and types of markets, the importance of demand, Types of market segmentation, Market size, growth and share.

    Making the right choice of legal structure for Business - Sole Traders, Partnerships, Private Limited Companies, Public Limited Companies, Pros and Cons of Legal Structures, Not-for-Profit Businesses.

    Raising Finance - Sources of finance available to start businesses.

    Location of a Business - Factors influencing start-up location decisions.

    Employing People - Types of employees used in small businesses, Using consultants and advisors.

    Financial Planning
    This section provides students with an understanding of key financial concepts essential for the planning of small businesses.

    Calculation of costs, revenues and profits - What are fixed, variable and total costs? Price, total revenue and profit.

    Break-Even Analysis and Decision-Making - Contribution and Contribution per unit, How to calculate break-even output, Analysing changing variables and their effects.

    Introduction to Cash-Flow forecasting - Nature of Cash Flow, Forecasting Cash Flow, How to structure a cash-flow forecast, Importance of forecasting cash-flow for businesses.

    Setting of Budgets - Income, expenditure and profit budgets, and the process of setting a budget, Budget amendments and completions.

    Assessments of Business Start-Ups - Aims and objectives of Business Start-Ups, Strengths and Weaknesses of business ideas or plans, Risks involved with Business Start-Ups, Reasons for failure of business start-ups.

    Unit 2: BUSS2 – Concepts of Business Management

    Financial management
    This section introduces students to the importance of the management of finance.

    Importance of using budgets - How to calculate and interpret favourable and adverse variances, making informed decision-making based on variance analysis.

    Cash-flow improvement - Causes of cash-flow problems and ways to improve cash-flow

    Measurement and Increase of Profit - Net Profit Margins, Return on Capital, Methods of improving Profits and Profitability, Differentiating between Cash and Profit.

    Importance of Human Resources
    This section considers the issues that managers face in relation to managing the human element to make a business more effective.

    Organisational Structure - Hierarchy and spans of control, Delegation and communication flows, job allocation and workloads, Workforce roles.

    Measuring Effectiveness of the Workforce - Methods of measuring workforce roles.

    The development of an effective workforce: recruitment, selection and training - The process of recruitment, Internal and external recruitment, How to choose the best employee, Workforce improvement through recruitment and selection, Methods of training.

    Development and retention of an effective workforce: Employee motivation - Financial methods of motivation, Improvement of Job design, Employee empowerment, Team working and Motivation Theories.

    Operations Management - This section should promote understanding of the importance of operational decisions in managing a business in tertiary, secondary and primary sectors.

    Making Operational Decisions - How to calculate and manage capacity utilisation, what are non-standard orders? Matching production and demand.

    Effective Operations Development: Quality - Quality control and quality assurance, Systems of Quality Assurance, Quality Standards, An introduction to quality systems and its management.

    Effective Operations Development: Customer Service - How to meet customer expectations, Ways to monitoring and improve customer service, Achieving high levels of customer service and its benefits.

    Working with Suppliers - How to choose effective suppliers, Role of suppliers in enhanced operational performance.

    Technology in Operations Management - Different types of technology in operations management, Problems in introducing and updating technology.

    Marketing and the Competitive Environment
    In this section students should understand the importance of marketing to businesses and issues affecting their competitiveness.

    Effective Marketing - Purpose of marketing, Niche and mass marketing.

    Designing an effective marketing mix - Influences and Integrated marketing mix.

    The Product Marketing Mix - USPs, Product Portfolio Analysis and Product Lifecycle

    The promotion marketing mix - Above-the-line and below-the-line.

    The pricing marketing mix - Pricing strategies and price tactics.

    The place marketing mix - Outlets and distributors choices and distribution channels.

    Unit 3: BUSS3 – Strategies for Success

    Functional Objectives and Strategies
    This section introduces students to functional objectives and strategies, and examines their appropriateness in the context of corporate objectives.

    Using Objectives and Strategies - Functional objectives and their relationship with corporate objectives, the relationship between functional objectives and strategies.

    Financial Strategies and Accounts
    This section examines the financial objectives of larger businesses, the ways in which financial performance might be measured and the strategies they may deploy.

    Understanding financial objectives, using financial data to measure and assess performance, Interpreting published accounts, selecting financial strategies, making investment decisions.

    Marketing Strategies This section considers the development of marketing strategies for larger businesses through a scientific approach to decision making.

    Understanding marketing objectives, Analysing markets and marketing, selecting marketing strategies, Developing and implementing marketing plans.

    Operational Strategies
    This section considers the operational objectives and strategies that a business may use to achieve success in its particular market.

    Understanding operational objectives, Operational strategies: scale and resource mix, Operational strategies: innovation, Operational strategies: location, Operational strategies: lean production.

    Human Resource Strategies
     This section considers the strategies available to businesses in managing their human resources. It builds upon AS Human Resources materials.

    Understanding HR objectives and strategies, Developing and implementing workforce plans, Competitive organisational structures, Effective employer-employee relations.

    Unit 4: BUSS4 – The Business Environment and Managing Change

    Corporate Aims and Objectives This section considers what the organisation is attempting to achieve, and how this helps to determine its strategies.

    Understanding mission, aims and objectives.

    Assessing changes to the Business Environment
    This section examines the relationships between organisations and their external environment.

    Relationship between business and the:
    economic environment
    political and legal environment
    social environment
    technological environment
    Competitive environment.

    Change Management
    Organisations operate in a changing environment and change creates opportunities and threats.

    Internal causes of change, planning for change, Key influences on the change process: leadership, Key influences on the change process: culture, Making strategic decisions, Implementing and managing change.

    Summary of Assessments
    Unit 1 – BUSS1 – Planning and Financing a Business40% of AS Level
    20% of A Level
    1 hour 15 minutes examination
    60 marks
    Short answer questions and extended responses based on a mini case study

    Unit 2 - BUSS2 – Managing a Business
    60% of As Level
    30% of A Level
    1 hour 30 minutes examination
    80 marks
    Compulsory, multi-part data response questions

    Unit 3 - BUSS3 – Strategies for Success
    25% of A Level
    1 hour 45 minutes examination
    80 marks
    Questions requiring extended answers based on an unseen case study drawing upon knowledge from As units

    Unit 4 – BUSS4 – The Business Environment and Managing Change25 % of A Level
    1 hour 45 minutes examination
    80 marks
    Pre-release research tasks leading to the first section of a two section examination.
    Second section will consist of choice of essays. All questions will be essay style and synoptic therefore drawing upon knowledge from all four units.

    Assignment InformationThroughout the course there will be self-assessment questions, and tutor marked questions, to enable students to monitor their progress.

    Recommended hours of study
    It is recommended that 200 hours of your time should be allocated towards study for the A Level examinations.

    Recommended Reading
    AQA Business Studies for AS by Marcouse, I, Gillespie, A, Surridge, M, Brewer, M, Watson, N,
    Birchall, N and Hammond, A, Hodder Education, 2008 (ISBN 9780340958643)

    AQA Business Studies for A2 by Marcouse, I et al, Hodder Education, ISBN 9780340973578 (to be published April 2009)

    As a student of UK Open Learning you will have access to tutor via email who will mark your work and guide you through the course to ensure you are ready for your examinations.

    Examination CentresUK Open Learning will provide you with a list of examination centres but it is entirely your responsibility to find a centre which will accept you as an external candidate.
    In some cases you should be prepared to travel to another town or city to take your exams.

    UK Open Learning provides expertise support and advice for students in their studies through their comprehensive course packs and tutoring system. However, we do stress that it is the student’s responsibility to find a centre to register and take their exams with. We are aware that sometimes this is difficult or even impossible to arrange.

    Now we have come to an arrangement with a centrally located centre where UK Open Learning students will be able to take their exams. It is the English Maths Science Tuition & Educational Centre, located in Birmingham, right in the centre of England.

    We realise this may still involve a good deal of travelling for some students but the long-term benefits of being able to gain A Levels far outweigh the short-term  expense and inconvenience.

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