Business Management is offered as part of the International Baccalaureate programme at both Standard Level and Higher Level. It involves learning about and applying a variety of business models and tools in the context of the environment in which businesses operate. Not only is the subject highly case study driven, but it also draws heavily on current business affairs to understand how the theory is put into practice in the real world of commerce.

Perhaps most surprisingly, students have to come to terms with the idea that, in business, there is generally no such thing as THE right answer – rather they must learn to analyse an ever-changing external environment, evaluate their choices, justify them and then be prepared to adapt them. This is why the study of Business Management is seen as an extremely practical subject and immediately applicable in the real world.

Supported by a framework of notes – but more importantly, their own research into a number of companies of their choice – students learn to use the language of the business world in order to discuss the uses and application of the syllabus content in the context of six core concepts, namely Change, Culture, Ethics, Globalisation, Innovation and Strategy.

Teaching and Curriculum

Teaching is undertaken in a university seminar style and formal assessment involves the preparation of an Internal Assignment and two written papers at the end of the two years of study, one of which is based on a pre-seen Case Study and the other is drawn from the entire syllabus.

The IB syllabus is a well-rounded one which offers a broad and detailed introduction to all aspects of the business world in the areas of:

  • Business Organisation and Environment
  • Human Resource Management
  • Finance and Accounts
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management

Progress through the syllabus follows a journey that most businesses would follow from start-up, hence why involvement in the Young Enterprise programme is considered a significant aid to enhancing knowledge and understanding.

Participation in the Young Enterprise programme provides an ideal opportunity to put ideas into practice and discuss the outcomes objectively. It is recognised that, because of the workloads involved in the IB programme, some students might find it difficult to include time for the YE programme and this will not compromise their learning. However, if it can be included then it adds value to the process and is actively encouraged.

Real-world case studies are used to reinforce learning and the opportunity to undertake the equivalent of a Management Consultancy project towards the end of the second year, in the form of the Internal Assignment, on a real business with a real problem that needs resolving. Not only does this teach the students how to interact with clients but also allows them to apply many aspects of the entire syllabus as a form of revision prior to the external examinations.

Beyond the classroom

Regular reading of current business news is essential to provide a well-rounded appreciation of the syllabus, as well as following business-related television programmes. The “Inside the Factory” series from the BBC is one such excellent example as it helps students to understand the intricacies of Operations Management, whilst “The Apprentice” is recognised as a perfect “How NOT to do” guide to approaching business.

There is an extensive reading list available in the Library which provides students with the opportunity to develop greater insights into the business world as well as providing a broader context to enhance knowledge and understanding. This list is regularly updated and added to as new titles become available which include, amongst others, the insights of a US nuclear submarine commander on leadership (“Turn the ship around!” by L David Marquet) and advice on how women can break the glass ceiling in the business world (“Lean in” by Sheryl Sandberg).

Student Showcase

The IB curriculum requires students to choose a subject for their Extended Essay and where students have chosen a business-related topic, they have been able to undertake a significant piece of research and evaluation into the real world of business. Recent essays include:

  • To what extent does the country in which a business is a start-up affect its chances of becoming a “dot com” Unicorn?
  • To what extent can the growth of The Boohoo Group plc as an e-commerce retailer be attributed to their risk management strategy?

In case you are interested, the conclusions reached in these essays were respectively as follows:

  • Attainment of Unicorn status (a valuation of $1bn+) is significantly dependent on the size of the venture capital market in different countries which explains why the vast majority (75 – 80%) of unicorns are found in the US and China
  • Boohoo Group plc has an extremely rigorous approach to risk management which proactively looks at an extensive range of possible risks, thereby allowing the senior management to be able to game these risks and prepare the company for changes in the external environment far quicker than their competitors

Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you will agree and even more impressive coming from Sixth Form students.

University Choices

Students do not need to have studied Business Management in order to apply for a Business-related degree but it certainly helps.

Degree choices tend to split evenly between business-specific courses such as Business with Marketing or International Management for example, or broader business-related courses such as International Relations. Virtually all courses offer industrial placements as part of the opportunity to apply knowledge in the real world and this approach is highly recommended, not only to enhance learning and understanding but also to help develop a network of companies for future employment. Generally undergraduates will find their first first job through these placements.

Future careers are many and varied – be it Chartered Accountancy, Marketing, Advertising and more recently, social media related roles. Given the ever-changing nature of the business environment, a business-related degree is likely to be relevant to pretty much any career (unless it is one of the highly vocational ones such as Medicine), so choosing a Business degree keeps many avenues wide open in the future.

Welcome from Head of Department – Charles Lovibond

Business Management at The Abbey as seen through the eyes of our students: