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University of Exeter Business School

Co-operative Enterprise

Module titleCo-operative Enterprise
Module codeBEM3038
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Adrian Bailey (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description


In this module, you will work in groups to develop a co-operative business plan that could be launched on graduation. The plan must address 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, you 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 those 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 teamwork skills and co-operative solutions to common problems like ‘free riders’ and leadership conflict.


Module aims - intentions of the module

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 overview 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

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 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 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 organizational forms.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. relate, in writing and verbally, how co-operative enterprises can be designed to solve economic, social, cultural and environmental problems;
  • 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

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

  • 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 the design of a business plan;
  • 9. demonstrate appropriate and innovative use of technology.

Syllabus plan

1. Co-operative Social Enterprise
2. Co-operative Organisational Forms
3. Co-operative Teams: Theoretical Approaches
4. Co-operative Legal Frameworks
5. Co-operative Case Study
6. Mid-Term Test
7. Capitalisation
8. Dragon’s Den Presentations
9. Marketing Co-operative Impacts
10. Workshop
11. Workshop

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 Activity14Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity8Tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity2Workshops
Guided Independent Study126Research, reading, reflection. Preparation for lectures, tutorials and assessments.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class DiscussionsVaries each session1-9Verbal
Class ExercisesVaries each 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
MCQ test4030-minute and 20 questions1, 4, 6, 7Automated online feedback
Group presentation1510 minute presentation, followed by Q&A with Dragons1-9Written and verbal
Group business plan45max 1500 words per student1-9Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
MCQ testMCQ test 40%1, 4, 6, 7Referral/Deferral Period
Group PresentationIndividual Presentation (5 minute recorded presentation, 15%) 1-6, 9Referral/Deferral period
Group Business PlanIndividual Essay (2,250 words, 45%)1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you have been deferred for any assessment you will be expected to submit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be expected to submit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Birchall, J. (2011) People-Centred Business: Co-operatives, Mutuals and the Idea of Membership, Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan
  • 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.
  • Ridley-Duff, R., & Bull, M. (2015). Understanding social enterprise: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2009) ‘Cooperative Social Enterprises: Company Rules, Access to Finance and Management Practice’, Social Enterprise Journal 5(1), 50-67
  • Scholz, T. (2016). Platform cooperativism. Challenging the corporate sharing economy. New York, NY: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web-based and electronic resources:

Co-operatives UK

  • - a comprehensive guide to the different options for financing a community enterprise.
  • - A comprehensive guide to understanding the systems and processes concerned with the running of a sustainable community enterprise
  • - 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
  • - A comprehensive guide to the legal forms and organisational types for community enterprises

The Co-operative Movement and Related Institutions


Key words search

Co-op; Co-operative; Social Enterprise; Third Sector; Cooperative Enterprise

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date