Skip to main content

University of Exeter Business School

Understanding Our World

Module titleUnderstanding Our World
Module codeMBAM964
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Sabine Tuckett (Lecturer)

Morgen Witzel (Lecturer)

Ms Joanne Abraham (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

14 days

10 days

Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will cover 3 core topics: Accounting and Finance; Economics and Data and Analytics and will introduce theories and concepts that underpin the world of modern business.

MBA graduates need knowledge of these theories and to be effective in understanding the situation in which they work.  In these 3 topics you will study the basics of data analysis, accounting, finance and economics, all fields that we believe are fundamental to MBA education.  Competence here allows you to interact effectively with more specialist professionals in these fields, an ability that is fundamental to sound decision making skills and to support your progression to senior leadership roles

Module aims - intentions of the module

Accounting and Finance

The aim of the accounting and finance module is to help you to gain an understanding of how to prepare and use financial reporting information. You will be expected to develop valuation-related and financial analysis skills to support the interpretation, evaluation and use of accounting information from the view point of major users of financial reports (i.e. equity investors, lenders, managers, etc.). Real life examples will be integrated into the lecture material to help support your understanding of the concepts.


The aims of this module are to allow you to develop an understanding of the relevance of economics to managers in business, and to introduce key issues in the economics of a sustainable world: for example, the economics of climate change, national and social development, and inequality at the workplace and in society. The module will interweave microeconomics and macroeconomic contents throughout, drawing on both perspectives to help us understand people and markets: the way that they work, and the ways in which they fail. The module will cover fundamental concepts (such as supply and demand) and historical developments to show how they influence—even today—how much of the world operates. This module will challenge your conventional thinking by introducing you to strategic and economic toolkits of decision-making, grounded in recent research in behavioural economics and psychology. Finally, this module will bring in contemporary economic and political issues to inform class discussion.

Data and Analytics

Information is the lifeblood of business. Companies that manage information effectively can improve efficiency, be more responsive to market opportunities, achieve competitive advantage and operate more sustainably.  As businesses drive towards sustainable strategies, they are looking for better information to guide decisions.  Many companies are already gathering data but a critical next step is to build information systems and data analytics capabilities that will turn this raw data into actionable insights. This will enable companies to more effectively identify which actions are achieving their goals, detect risk or opportunity early, evaluate possible outcomes, allocate resources to achieve greatest returns; and measure the true impact of products. This module will explore the role of information and analytics in supporting the development of more sustainable strategies and the practical techniques managers can use to design effective information flows.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. explain the role of economics in managerial decision-making and evaluate how markets work and evaluate emerging economic themes that are having an impact on companies;
  • 2. critically evaluate current approaches used for collection, management, communication and analysis of commercial, operational and system data, and how this data is used to support ethical decision-making;
  • 3. interpret a range of financial data in order to draw conclusion related to the financial performance and position of a company;
  • 4. develop a critical assessment of any given situation by rigorously analysing problems in accounting, finance and economics.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. explain key accounting concepts and evaluate how they affect the production and presentation of financial statements;
  • 6. compute returns and risk measures for individual assets and portfolios of assets. Value a company using the Discounted Cash flow technique and relative valuation techniques;
  • 7. demonstrate familiarity with analytical tools available for the collection, analysis and visualisation of numerical and textual data and use these to find, derive, evaluate and report information;
  • 8. apply theoretical arguments, frameworks and concepts to the analysis of business and management scenarios. Link theoretical constructs and organisational practices;
  • 9. illustrate the nature of market failure and the implications for business and government. Explain the value of using economics in assessing the external environment for business decision-making.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. take a global outlook: apply creative intelligence and ethical imagination to complex problems to ensure that environmental and social governance is taken into account;
  • 11. apply critical thinking: present and defend strategic analyses in multiple forms (written, verbal, digital) based on case material, desk based and empirical research;
  • 12. work with a collaborative mind-set: give and receive feedback at all levels in a confident and respectful manner. Work inclusively across multi-cultural groups to research, explore and prepare a persuasive argument against an assignment or client brief;
  • 13. develop an ethical perspective: improve personal effectiveness through consciously and diligently making decisions on behalf of all stakeholders, environmental, social and financial;
  • 14. demonstrate technological and digital literacy: identify and apply relevant technologies to source, process and communicate accurate information.

Syllabus plan


  • Key Accounting Standards.
  • Calculation of Ratios, Interpretation of Ratios.
  • Applying what we have learnt so far to our chosen company.



  • Risk and Return and Time Value of Money.
  • Discounted Cash flow and its applications and cost of capital.



  • Competitive markets and industries, GDP
  • Inequality, work performance, public goods
  • Decision-making and choice architecture
  • Marketing, automation, and final presentations


Data and Analytics

  • Introduction to key concepts in data and analytics and their application to sustainable business.
  • Using Design Thinking techniques to understand business problems
  • Telling the story with data - Infographics and Visualisation
  • Ethics and governance for using data and analytics in business

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 & Teaching activities91Lectures & facilitated group discussions
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities209Reading, research, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Economics – group presentation4 minutes (5 slides)10,11Oral feedback
Accounting & Finance - MCQ test30 questions5,6Correct answers + spreadsheets with calculations
Data & Analytics - group exercises1 hour1,2,10-14Oral feedback

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
Accounting & Finance – individual financial analysis353,000 words3-6,8,10-14Correct answers
Economics - Individual assignment 303,000 words1,8,9,12-14Written feedback
Data & Analytics – Individual assignment353,000 words2,7,10-14Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Accounting & Finance – individual financial analysis (35%)Accounting & Finance – individual financial analysis 3,000 words (35%)3-6,8,106 weeks from briefing
Economics - Individual assignment (30%) Economics - Individual assignment (3,000 words) 1,8,9,126 weeks from briefing
Data & Analytics – Individual assignment (35%)Data & Analytics – Individual assignment (35%, 3,000 words)2,7,106 weeks from briefing

Re-assessment notes

An overall module mark of 50% is required from across all three components.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Accounting and Finance

Software: For the finance part you will need a laptop with preferably with MS Excel installed or alternative (that you should be familiar with).

Recommended textbooks:

  • Rice, A. (2015). Accounts demystified: the astonishingly simple guide to accounting. Harlow: Pearson Education. This book covers the accounting part of the module.

A textbook is not compulsory for the Finance part but a very good introduction to some of the concepts we will cover is in: 

  • Fraser-Sampson, G. (2011). No fear finance: An introduction to finance and investment for the non-finance professional. London: Kogan Page.

See here:   (Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10 are relevant for the Finance part of the module).


There is no required textbook that covers all the material in the module. Two excellent sources for how economics applies in the real world, from business to public policy, are (the first one is available for free online):

  • The CORE Team (2018). Core econ: Economy, society, and public policy. Online Edition:
  • Froeb, L.M., McCann, B.T., Shor, M., & Ward, M.R. (2016). Managerial economics: A problem-solving approach (4th ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning.

Data and Analytics

  • Provost, F., & Fawcett, T. (2013). Data science for business. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.

(The book is available on-line through the Exeter University Library.

Analytics tools

A level of familiarity with Microsoft Excel is expected.  The student must have personal access to MS Office 2013 or higher (PC or MAC), this is available to all Exeter students free of charge during their time at the university

  • Access and training for the other software tools used in the module will be provided

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Accounting & Finance:


Data & Analytics: under construction

Key words search

Finance, Accounting, Economics, Analytics, Data

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date