Purchasing & Supply Management

Module description


Purchasing & Supply Management (PSM) is an emerging new field in business management which reflects the worldwide trends of globalised trading and the concept of the extended supply chain. While traditional functions such as buying and logistics have traditionally been considered tactical functions within the firm, ‘PSM’ has grown to becoming a strategic activity which manages supplier relationships, enables network innovation, reduces cost, and mitigates the impact on society and the natural environment. As Purchasing & Supply Management is recognized as one of the cornerstones of 21st century competitive advantage, ‘PSM’ increasingly attracts considerable interest from both industry practitioners and academic researchers.

Additional Information:

Please note that, with the exception of the recommended core text, all of the resources for this module such as lecture slides and PDFs are available on the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE).

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 & Supply Management
Module code:BEM3022
Module level:3
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Mickey Howard - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide a sound introduction to the basic process, context, and theoretical elements of Purchasing & Supply Management by presenting a step-by-step approach in terms of how it has evolved in its current form. It emphasizes the importance of a strategic approach to managing supply networks often involving complex service-based delivery which spans both the public and private sector. The course also includes an introduction to Transaction Cost Economics and the Resource-based View as part of the decision making process over firm outsourcing and the decision to ‘make or buy’. Designed around 10 x 2 hour lectures, supported by 3 tutorial sessions and a group assignment, the module seeks to help students understand where ‘PSM’ fits in the overall global business decision-making models of today.

While designed from the perspective of ‘no previous knowledge on PSM needed’, some basic concepts of Operations Management (OM) will be included to help the student build a solid theoretical foundation on which to base further learning. Hence it is helpful, but not essential, for students to have completed the OM module beforehand. The module will use industry examples from recent research, teaching case studies and practical tasks in class. Essentially, the module asks how and why organizations purchase goods & services, choose to sub-contract particular activities and innovate with key suppliers. And, having done so, what drives these decisions in terms of theory and business practice?

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Describe the evolution of purchasing & supply 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 practice.
  • 4. Evaluate the dynamics of the lean and agile models on supply chain responsiveness.
  • 5. Evaluate the impact of managing innovation and emerging concepts such as servitization and sustainability on supply competitiveness.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Critically evaluate the role of innovative approaches in process improvement such as the use of new technology and the potential impact on supply performance.
  • 7. Apply appropriate theory and conceptual frameworks for developing international sourcing and inter&organizational relationship strategies.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Written communication
  • 9. Independent (and, where appropriate: group) study
  • 10. Secondary (i.e. desk-based, literature 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 hours22Lectures
10Help classes

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class test30 mins1- 3Mark 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
Group (3-5) assignment 403000 words (main text)1-10Feedback written on assignment.
Written exam602.5 hours1-7Final mark and written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
AssignmentRe-submit (40%)1-10Aug/Sep
Written examRe-sit exam (60%)1-7Aug/Sep

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 (PSM)
• Supply Chain Management (SCM): exploring soft & hard supply dynamics
• Competing as supply chains and networks
• Understanding the ‘make or buy’ decision i.e. outsourcing
• Supplier assessment, evaluation & development
• Responsiveness: the importance of being Lean and Agile
• Global sourcing strategy
• Technology and supply chain collaboration: e-commerce and the e-hub
• New product development and the supplier
• Sustainable Supply Chains
• Product-service innovation and supply chain ‘servitization’

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:
One of two possible core texts will be used (accompanied by additional journal readings):

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

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

The ‘3DayCar’ programme website: 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 instill further industrial relevance, the module will include a selection of cases from the tutor’s own research material on automotive, aerospace, marine, logistics, and the IT telecoms sector.  

Origin date


Last revision date