Purchasing and Supply Chain Management

Module description


This module focuses on the practical and theoretical elements of managing global supply chains. It presents a step-by-step approach to the emerging field of Purchasing & Supply Management, emphasising the importance of a strategic approach to managing supply chains and networks. Supply chains not only involve fast moving consumer goods, but also often involving complex product-service delivery to the public and private sectors. The 10 lectures on the module are designed to enable participants to understand where ‘Purchasing & Supply Management’ fits in today’s business decision-making, going beyond cost reduction and consolidation, towards concerns of adding value and introducing issues on global supply chain sustainability.

While designed from the perspective of little specific previous knowledge on supply chain management, some basic Operations Management is desired from students, to help build a theoretical and practical foundation on which to base further learning. The module combines practical industry case studies and academic research papers, including some practical tasks in class. Essentially, the module examines how and why organizations manage their supply chains to purchase goods & services responsively, add-value to their customers, choose to sub-contract particular activities, and ultimately create lasting competitive advantage.

Additional Information:


Students taking this module will get an understanding of purchasing and supply chain management in the UK and Europe, as well as global sourcing and supplier selection methods around the world. In addition they will learn about global brand names such as: Rolls Royce Engines, Tesco, IKEA, Volvo Car Corporation, Dell, as well as public government organizations e.g. defence, health.  


One lecture and a tutorial session in this module is entirely dedicated to sustainability and discusses the implications of the ‘green’ supply chain on global trading. The module also incorporates ongoing research by the module leader on low carbon procurement and the implementation of closed loop supply chains. 


As well as developing their team-working and report writing skills, students gain knowledge and an understanding of purchasing and supply chain management which is valuable for employment. The University of Exeter Business School has links with the Chartered Institute for Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), and any students considering pursuing CIPS qualifications should first consult www.CIPS.org

Full module specification

Module title:Purchasing and Supply Chain Management
Module code:BEMM126
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Mickey Howard - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

The aim of this module is to prepare students in terms of what to expect as a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) professional. It introduces Purchasing and Supply Chain Management as a critical yet emerging field, which reflects on the worldwide trends of globalised trading and the extended supply chain. Purchasing and logistics have traditionally been considered tactical, even clerical functions within the firm. However, today Purchasing (or Procurement) and Supply Chain Management is considered a strategic activity, often conducted by external consultants, which manages supplier relationships, enables supply chain/network innovation, reduces cost, and mitigates impact from/on the environment. As skill sets such as Supply Chain Management (SCM) is recognized as one of the cornerstones of 21st century competitive advantage, this emerging field increasingly attracts considerable interest from both industry practice and more theoretical, academic research. Typical questions which will be tackled in class include: when should supply chains be lean or agile? In what circumstances is outsourcing to the supply base appropriate? How should buyers engage with small-medium suppliers at the beginning of the new product development process? And, whose responsibility is ‘sustainability’ in the supply chain?

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. describe the evolution of Purchasing & Supply Chain Management from tactical to strategic
  • 2. discuss the significance of supply strategy in relation to examples from industry
  • 3. discuss the core concepts and principles of 'soft' and 'hard' supply chain and network management practices
  • 4. critically evaluate the dynamics of supply chain and network models on product-service delivery and performance
  • 5. critically evaluate the impact of managing innovation and emerging concepts such as through-life management and 'servitization' on service-based supply chains
  • 6. critically evaluate the implications for business of emerging thinking of sustainability and the green supply chain

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 7. critically evaluate the role of innovative approaches in process improvement such as the use of new technology and the potential impact on supply chain and network performance
  • 8. apply appropriate theory and conceptual frameworks for developing international sourcing and inter-organizational relationship strategies
  • 9. critically evaluate the impact of the globalisation of supply chains in relation to 'outcome-based' supply chains

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. demonstrate written communication skills, ability to study independently, and secondary (i.e. desk-based, online search) research skills

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours20Lectures
10Help Sessions

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class test30 mins1-3Marked in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual Assignment1003000 words1-10Feedback written on assignment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual AssignmentIndividual Assignment (100%) 3000 words1-10July assessment period

Syllabus plan

NB: The exact title, ordering and specific content of these lectures may vary according to annual updates to the syllabus and emergence of new developments in the field:
• Introduction to Purchasing & Supply Management
• Supply Chain Management: exploring hard and soft supply dynamics
• Competing as supply chains and networks
• Understanding the 'make or buy' decision: the rise of outsourcing
• Supplier assessment, evaluation & development
• Responsiveness: the importance of Lean and Agile
• Strategy, sourcing and supply chain configuration
• Technology and the supply chain: ‘RFID’, e-commerce and the e-hub
• New product development and the supplier
• The ‘green’ supply chain: low carbon procurement, ‘CSR’ and sustainability
• Product-service innovation and service-based supply chains

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Module reading

The readings for this module comprise a textbook accompanied by additional journal readings. The core textbook for this module is:

Johnsen, T. E., Howard, M. and Miemczyk, J. (2014). Purchasing & Supply Chain Management: A   Sustainability Perspective. Routledge: UK

ELE – http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=2489


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

The 3-Day Car Programme:www.3daycar.com

Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply: http://www.cips.org/

Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport: http://www.ciltuk.org.uk/pages/home

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

In order to instil further industrial relevance, the module will include a selection of cases from the tutor’s own research on automotive, aerospace, marine, third-party logistics, ICT, services, sustainability and low carbon procurement

Origin date


Last revision date