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University of Exeter Business School

Digital Business Models

Module titleDigital Business Models
Module codeBEMM129
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Lisa Harris (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The digital economy has created significant opportunities while generating new modes of competition in both ‘traditional’ and new sectors of the economy. Established businesses need to appreciate the capabilities of digital technologies within the organisational context in which they will be embedded in order to effectively capture value through digital innovation, while entrepreneurs have few such constraints.


Each week you will draw upon the combined expertise within the group to develop your own community of shared digital practice that can continue to evolve as a study resource beyond the module itself. 


You will experience online collaboration and community building first hand through 1) participation in the collaborative development of module content and 2) subsequent reflection on its value in terms of your learning and future careers. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module examines the business models and strategies of a wide range of digital businesses, from start-up environments to the transformation of established organisations. By drawing upon a range of case study examples, you will critically evaluate the strategic decisions needed to convert digital opportunities into competitive advantage and reflect upon the role of technological innovation in the sustainability of society as a whole.


Please note this module was developed pre-covid19 with a focus on collaborative online study so that you can directly experience the opportunities and challenges of digital working environments. In recent months, the need for such skills has obviously increased significantly in all aspects of our lives.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Review the opportunities and challenges posed by new digital business models
  • 2. Discuss the implications of technological innovation for how we live, learn and work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Explain how digital innovations can be developed in a variety of contexts
  • 4. Reflect upon the culture changes required for effective business transformation in the digital age

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Evaluate the challenges and opportunities associated with the social learning process

Syllabus plan

  • Lessons from the history of technological change
  • The "fourth industrial revolution"
  • The changing nature and location of employment
  • The blurring of physical and digital space
  • The circular economy
  • The sharing economy
  • Digital business transformation within established organisations
  • Entrepreneurial digital business models       
  • What does the future hold? 

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
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Introductory face to face lecture (2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2424 hours of learning and teaching directed through content and activities within the Virtual Learning Environment (8 weeks x 3 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching44 x 1 hour (fortnightly) face to face workshops to take questions, provide scaffolding and assessment feedback
Guided Independent Study120Reading, research, and preparation for tutorials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative exercises will be embedded during the sessions online and will take various forms including individual and group exercises, discussions, case studies and personal reflection exercises. There will be 2 set tasks per week.150 words1-5ELE

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
Portfolio - End of module701000 words + 2-minute reflective video1-5ELE
Multiple choice quiz 1 -End of week 41530 minutes2-3Automated online feedback
Multiple choice quiz 2 - End of week 81530 minutes2-3Automated online feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Portfolio1000 words + 2-minute reflective video1-5Referral/Deferral period
Multiple choice quizMCQ2-3Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Brown, A. (2021) Delivering Digital Transformation: A manager's guide to the digital revolution


Zuboff, S. (2019) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Profile books


Fry, H. (2019) Hello World: how to be human in the age of the machine, London: Penguin 


Gowing, N. and Langdon, C. (2018) Thinking the Unthinkable: A new imperative for leadership in the digital age, John Catt Educational Limited


Hughes, C. (2018) Fair Shot: rethinking inequality and how we earn, Bloomsbury


Keen, A. (2018) How to Fix the Future: staying human in the digital age Atlantic Books


Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2018) Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data


Schwab, (2016) The 4th Industrial Revolution, Penguin


Stockwood, J. (2018) Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy, Human Business in the Digital Age, Virgin


Standage, T. (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social media – the first 2000 years, London: Bloomsbury

Key words search

Digital business models, digital innovation, digital strategy, 4th Industrial Revolution, e-business, big data, social media



Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date