We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4O910: The Boardroom Exercise (EBS)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to N1T817 Business Administration (Dual Award)


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with the opportunity to apply, at a strategic level, the concepts and theories learnt during other core modules to the board-level management of a real-world international organisation.
  • To allow students to reflect upon and improve the analytical, professional and social skills expected of an MBA graduate.
  • To develop insights into the multi-disciplinary nature of corporate management of an organisation.
  • To enable students to understand at an advanced level the implications of and trends within corporate governance structures, frameworks and policy for the effective management of corporations.
  • To develop and enhance skills in communication, presentation, persuasion and mindfulness within the context of the boardroom of an international organisation.


  • During the initial stage of the MBA Programme, students will be introduced to the necessary functional disciplines of general management through a range of core modules. This module allows the student to explore the multi-disciplinary nature of general management by seeing the application of all these functional disciplines within the setting of the corporate boardroom.
  • The module is centred on the Boardroom Exercise, which is a small-group activity towards the end of the core period of the programme MBA programme. Students are allocated to groups and simulate the behaviour of the executive management team of a specified real-world organisation as they prepare for and participate in a simulation of a board meeting of the corporation. This meeting is chaired by an external executive with extensive board experience along with other similar external executives and academic staff who undertake the role of non-executive directors. The activity is designed to provide an opportunity for experiential learning, with the group carefully searching for and analysing relevant information; preparing an agreed agenda and board papers for the meeting; participating as specified members of the executive management team within the meeting and presenting and facing questions upon the papers from the non-executive directors as part of the board’s deliberations and decision-making processes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students should:
  • Have a critical appreciation of corporate governance structures, risk management procedures, and related processes and policy development as they apply to the activities of a corporate board; the roles and responsibilities of executive and non-executive directors; and the effective performance of company boards;
  • Have an advanced understanding of how the disciplines of general management can be integrated and used to effectively manage the strategic development and performance of an international company;
  • Have an advanced understanding of the typical challenges faced by international business organisations and the development of options available to address them within the context of ethical business practices and environmental sustainability.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should:
  • Be able to think strategically and critically about the performance of an international corporation, as well as functionally;
  • Be able to critically analyse the internal, market and non-market environments of the corporation in order to understand the strategic constraints and opportunities it faces to address current and future performance;
  • Be able to develop, as part of a team, detailed and integrated management reports that explain current corporate performance and/or define management actions to address performance and contribute to the future strategic development of the corporation;
  • Be able to articulate and persuade groups like non-executive directors and the broader investment community that the executive management team has a clear understanding of current corporate performance and the ability to drive successful future performance;
  • Be able to think self-critically about their managerial knowledge and professional skills, identifying gaps and opportunities for continued personal development.
Key Skills:
  • Building and developing teams
  • Negotiating and persuading
  • Sourcing appropriate data and evaluating evidence
  • Interpreting and using numerical and financial information
  • Reflecting and synthesising from experience
  • Developing critical thinking and reflection
  • Synthesising diverse perspectives
  • Developing coherent and persuasive arguments
  • Selecting appropriate modes of communication

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Whilst not part of the teaching input into this module, students will be expected to draw on the content and skills developed in other core modules.
  • Taught components will examine issues of corporate governance structures and processes; the roles and responsibilities of directors and boards; the composition of effective boards; the nature of board papers and investor communications. This will also include drawing upon the collective experience and expertise of the senior executives acting as board chairs and other NEDs. Some of this material may be made available in online format rather than in a classroom session.
  • A workshop on effective boardroom behaviour will examine and develop thinking, listening and communicating skills, drawing on the latest thinking on effective leadership approaches including mindfulness. Appropriate links will be drawn to the wider programme of professional and personal skills and development. The workshop will be followed by group-based coaching in both effective board behaviours and upon the content of the board papers and board meeting. In addition, where timing permits, the groups will have the opportunity to draw on the skills/mentoring of their board chairs and other non-executive directors though informal meetings and web/telephone communication. This includes the Chairs and non-executive directors leading the feedback session, immediately after the full board meeting.
  • The boardroom groups will need to spend considerable time, both together and individually, analysing the chosen company, evaluating its performance and strategy, devising and evaluating strategic responses and preparing the relevant documents (board papers) for consideration. This will include seeking guidance from both their chairs/NEDs and the module team on the content and presentation of the papers required for the meeting.
  • As this team-based exercise seeks to replicate the collaborative nature of boardroom decision making the module is assessed by two group elements: the team performance within the board meeting (60%), and the team performance in preparing the board papers (40%).
  • As the Boardroom meeting would be difficult to repeat, any student failing the group component of assessment will have a resit opportunity consisting of a 3,000 word individual report focusing upon the performance and proposed strategies of the chosen corporation, provided that they had engaged meaningfully with the exercise. Those unable to participate fully in the preparations for and/or the board meeting at the end of the exercise will be required to take the module again (at the same attempt) on a later occasion, normally with the next cohort.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/Workshop/Presentations (Web-based content, online & face-to face) 14
Group Coaching (Seminar format) 2
Group Meetings with Chair/NEDs 8
Group reading, analysis, preparation & meetings 76
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Boardroom Exercise Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Board Meeting 90 mins 60% 3000 word individual report
Board Papers 20 pages (approx) + supporting papers (not assessed) 40% See above

Formative Assessment:

Informal formative feedback will be provided by the module team throughout the Boardroom Exercise, within workshops and coaching sessions. In addition, each group will be able to draw on the expertise and mentoring of their board chairman and other NEDs. Further formative feedback will be provided by the chairman and non-executive directors (including a member of the module teaching team) in an extended debrief (typically up to an hour) immediately after the full board meeting.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University