Co-operative Enterprise

Module description


In this module, students work in groups to develop a co-operative business plan that could be launched on graduation. This could be anything where there is an identified primary social need (e.g. housing) or secondary social need (e.g. leisure). Students are given step by step guidance about how to form a co-operative business. Through the process of developing a co-operative business plan, the students will be required to engage with the aims of the module.


Additional Information:


Co-operatives are found throughout the world and the principles enshrined by the International Co-operative Alliance form the basis of the business models developed in this module.



Sustainability is a key consideration in the viability of the business plans developed in this module, in line with the seventh principle of co-operation set out by the ICA, which states: ‘Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members’.



The module will be of value to students seeking to work in environments where knowledge of co-operative principles and working practices are important. For example, government posts, NGOs and businesses that transact with co-operatives. You will also develop team work skills and co-operative solutions to common problems like ‘free riders’ and leadership conflict.


Full module specification

Module title:Co-operative Enterprise
Module code:BEM3038
Module level:3
Academic year:2021/2
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Adrian Bailey - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






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


Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • explain the importance of co-operative values and principles to member based businesses
  • explore how co-operatives as a social economic model can contribute to community development
  • provide an in-depth analysis of different types of member owned business
  • equip students with the skills, knowledge and experience to develop a co-operative business plan that aligns with co-operative values and principles

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. articulate the elements that make co-operatives distinctive organisations vis-à-vis, state run enterprises, investor owned businesses and social purpose enterprises (e.g. charities);
  • 2. identify opportunities in which co-operative enterprises might be best placed to meet social needs;
  • 3. design and communicate a co-operative business plan, using oral presentations and written documents, that is congruent with co-operative values and principles;
  • 4. critically evaluate the effectiveness of different co-operative enterprises and their associated legal, financial and organisational forms.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. relate, in writing and verbally, debates about co-operative enterprise to wider trends in economy, society and culture, including the provision of public services and the changing role of the state;
  • 6. connect the practitioner and academic worlds vital to the success of co-operative enterprise, in the presentation of theory, concept and evidence.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. identify the value of specific skills that support co-operative enquiry. These skills involve individuals developing an awareness about the challenges faced by the co-operating group, effectively evaluating their personal capabilities in relation to those possessed by other group members, and taking on different roles at different times in the collaborative process in the best of interests of the group; for example, with respect to teamwork, leadership, empathy, and inter and intra group collaboration;
  • 8. exercise autonomy through independent learning including the effective use of time and resources to deliver a group presentation and contribute to a business plan;
  • 9. demonstrate appropriate and innovative use of ICT and IT.

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 Teaching Activity20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity5Tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity2Workshops
Guided Independent Study123Research, reading, reflection, preparation for lectures, tutorials and assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class DiscussionsVaries from session to session1-9Verbal
Class ExercisesVaries from session to session1-9Verbal

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 Presentation1516 minutes comprising per student input of c.750 words or equivalent1-9Written and Verbal
Group Business Plan45Max. 1500 words per student1-9Written
Individual Portfolio402,500 words1-7, 9Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group PresentationIndividual Paper (750 words, 15%)1-4, 9August/September Reassessment Period
Group Business PlanIndividual Paper (1500 words, 45%)2,5,6, 7August/September Reassessment Period
Individual PortfolioPaper (2500 words, 40%)1,2,4,5,6,9August/September Reassessment Period

Syllabus plan


  1. Co-operatives as Social Enterprise
  2. Co-operative Organisational Forms
  3. Co-operation Ideation
  4. Co-operative Case Study
  5. Legal Frameworks
  6. Capitalisation
  7. Economic Forecasting
  8. Demonstrating Impact
  9. Group Workshop
  10. Presenting Your Business Plan
  11. Feedback

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Birchall, J. (2011) People-Centred Business: Co-operatives, Mutuals and the Idea of Membership, Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan

Bull, M. (2018). ‘Reconceptualising social enterprise in the UK through an appreciation of legal identities’. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 24(3), 587-605.

Defourny, J., & Nyssens, M. (2017). ‘Fundamentals for an international typology of social enterprise models’. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 28(6), 2469-2497.

Hall, J.K., Daneke, G.A., Lenox, M.J. (2010) ‘Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship: Past Contributions and Future Directions’ Journal of Business Venturing 25 (5) 439-448

Hulgård, L. (2014). Social enterprise and the third sector - innovative service delivery or a non-capitalist economy? In J. Defourny, L. Hulgård & V. Pestoff (Eds.), Social enterprise and the third sector: Changing European landscapes in a comparative perspective (pp. 66-84). Oxon, New York: Routledge.

Mazzarol, T., Soutar, G. & Mamouni Limnios, E. (2019), ‘Member loyalty and WOM in co-operative and mutual enterprises’, Journal of Services Marketing, 33(3), 303-315.

Powell, M., & Osborne, S. P. (2015). Can marketing contribute to sustainable social enterprise?. Social Enterprise Journal, 11(1), 24-46.

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2009) ‘Cooperative Social Enterprises: Company Rules, Access to Finance and Management Practice’, Social Enterprise Journal 5(1), 50-67

Pestoff, V. (2009) ‘Towards a Paradigm of Democratic Participation: Citizen Participation and Co-production of Personal Social Services in Sweden’, Annals of Public and Co-operative Economics 80(2), 197-224

Scholz, T. (2016). Platform cooperativism. Challenging the corporate sharing economy. New York, NY: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Co-operatives UK

Simply Finance - a comprehensive guide to the different options for financing a community enterprise.

Simply Governance - A comprehensive guide to understanding the systems and processes concerned with the running of a sustainable community enterprise.

Simply Start Up - A guide for anyone involved in the creation of an enterprise that will be owned by, run by, and supported by the community in which it operates.

Simply Legal -a comprehensive guide to the legal forms and organisational types for community enterprises.


The Co-operative Group


The Co-operative Movement and Related Institutions

Origin date


Last revision date