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Leading in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Module description

This module engages the participant with the emergent technological innovations that are being described as the next industrial revolution. It is focused on increasing the participant’s ability to understand technical innovations and communicate them clearly within a diverse team, in order to increase the ability to create more value.


The module engages with the challenges that increasing connectivity (fibre, mobile, and IoT) across the globe is bringing. It also endeavours to help participants identify the international opportunities that lie within the convergence of a connected innovation ecosystem. 


This module is predicated on the rapid increase of ‘platforms’ and servitization through digital connectivity. It is essential that managers have the knowledge and skills to identify the possible disruptions that these advances may bring. At the same time, they need to identify appropriate technologies to utilise, in order to create, deliver, and capture value more effectively.  

Sustainability: The module explores ‘sustainability’ from the point of view of both risks and business opportunities, as a driver of new forms of value creation.

External Engagement:

The Exeter MBA’s technology partners will help deliver and build content for the online teaching element. In combination with this there will be a variety of local partners that will help facilitate the ‘living lab’.

Ethics and Corporate Responsibility:

This module will be based on the idea that business can ‘do well’ and ‘do good’ in the context of the emerging fourth industrial revolution.

Research in Teaching:

This module will draw on the expertise of both faculty and guest contributors and their relevant research. It will also lean on current institutional research, such as the World Economic Forum who have been at the forefront of the conversation around the fourth industrial revolution. It will also encourage curiosity and shine a light on emerging technologies for further individual research.

Full module specification

Module title:Leading in the 4th Industrial Revolution
Module code:MBAM938
Module level:M
Academic year:2019/0
Module lecturers:
  • Professor Mark Thompson - Convenor
Module credit:10
ECTS value:






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

4 days (+ study over 6 weeks)

Module aims

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital, and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries” (Schwab, 2016). The aim of this module is to engage with the size, speed, and scope of the historic changes occurring all around us (Schwab, 2016). As such the module is designed to immerse the participants in the ‘world of technology’, in order for them to hone their skills of communication and gain vital perspective on what lies ‘on’ and ‘over’ the horizon. This will equip the participants with the ability to develop solutions that embrace technology and respond to our global challenges.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate and critically analyse how the emerging ‘fourth industrial revolution’ will affect business and society and the opportunities and risks that are associated with it
  • 2. Critically reflect on the emerging technological ecosystem

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Communicate and critically analyse the history of computing and digital revolution, information science, and network theory
  • 4. Demonstrate an introductory understanding of computer coding, AR and VR, material innovation (bio and tech), artificial intelligence, robotics, and the blockchain
  • 5. Engage with and utilise the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, and digital manufacturing

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Demonstrate multimedia production and communication skills
  • 7. Demonstrate effective independent and team study skills
  • 8. Demonstrate effective group study skills
  • 9. Work effectively in a team to produce technical output

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 activities 7Online lectures, workshops, and tutorials
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities21Experiential learning: Technical and design couching.
Guided independent study72Reading, research, and writing,

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorials, presentations, and discussions.1:1 20 minute discussions in the 6 weeks leading up to the module, 1 hour in class discussions on presentations 1-8Oral 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
Vlog (Individual) 401 x 4 minute (Vlog)1-7Written feedback
Test (Individual)2030 minutes in class1-5, 7Marked with notes
Documentary video (Group)4015 minutes 1-9Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
1 x 4 minute (Vlog)40% Individual assignment 2000 words1-7Six weeks after briefing
Test (Individual) 30 minutes in class20%, 30 minute test1-5.7Six weeks after briefing
Documentary video (Group) 15 minutes40% individual 3 minute video 1-9Six weeks after briefing

Re-assessment notes

The new assignment will have a brief which contains a different emphasis to the initial assignment.

Syllabus plan

The technical understanding is built through content and assessment delivered over a twelve-week period through an online platform. This technical understanding is then put into practise during a four-day living lab challenge. The lab is designed to be a highly experiential learning environment with the teams having access to 3D printing, Raspberry Pi’s, robotics, and recording equipment. These two phases of the module will allow participants to increase both their technical and business vocabulary regarding the emerging fourth industrial revolution.

  • Introduction to the history of computing and information theory
  • Internet of Things – Cloud platforms, software, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and sensors
  • Robotics and A.I –  Servos, motors, and IBM Watson
  • Material Innovation and Digital Manufacturing
  • VR and AR
  • Blockchain
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Programming
  • Video and sound production

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


Accenture. 2016. Insight Digital Platform Economy


Accenture. 2017. Tech Vision 2017


McKinsey. 2016. An Incumbent's Guide to Digital Disruption


McKinsey. 2017. Measuring B2B Digital Gap


OECD. 2016. OECD Science Technology and Innovation Outlook 2016


Schwab, K. 2016. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Geneva: World Economic Forum


World Economic Forum. 2016. An Introduction to the Digital Transformation Initiative



Further reference material will be provided during the online delivery

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date