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Module information

Understanding Our World

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

Full module specification

Module title:Understanding Our World
Module code:MBAM964
Module level:M
Academic year:2021/2
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Stuart Robinson - Convenor
  • Dr Katie Ledingham - Lecturer
Module credit:30
ECTS value:






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

10 days

Duration (weeks) - term 2:

4 days

Module aims

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.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 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

  • 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

  • 10. present and defend strategic analyses in multiple forms (written, verbal, digital) based on case material, desk based and empirical research;
  • 11. give and receive feedback at all levels, building confidence and developing trust that enables Self and others to take more assertive actions in the achievement of organisational goals;
  • 12. improve personal effectiveness through consciously and diligently developing own communication skills.

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

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

Last revision date