Business Studies is studies as part of a full time A Level study programme.
Studying business allows you to develop a broad understanding of business organisations and provides you with subject-specific knowledge in areas such as markets, customers, finance, operations, communications, and business strategy. You will develop an understanding of organisational behaviour and structure, analytical and critical thinking as well as decision-making techniques. You will also be given the opportunity to develop your own communication style.
Business students develop transferable skills such that they can work in any organisation. Our business students have gone on to start their own businesses and forge exciting careers in multinational companies.
What is Business A Level about?
- Should Marks and Spencer move all of its operations online?
- Is it better to pay high dividends to shareholders or invest profits?
- What should Tesco do to reposition itself in the market?
- How can Crush Candy ensure its long term growth?
- Should Amazon pay more tax in the UK?
- Should tobacco companies plan to exit this industry?
- What’s the best way to design a job that motivates?
- How can a construction business ensure its cashflow is healthy?
These are the types of issues you might consider when studying Business at A level. You will look at a number of different organisations facing different problems.
You are expected to analyse the key factors involved in a given context and have to recommend the best course of action for a business given its existing position: should it launch a new product? Should managers increase staff pay more dividends to investors? Should a business target more emerging economies? How could money be sourced to fund expansion – should you borrow from a bank or friends and family?
Essentially the course is about debating and decision-making in a business context and as such it develops invaluable skills whatever you want to do next. You need to learn and understand the theory but then apply it to a context. The “right” answer will depend on the problem in front of you and you need to be able to think issues through logically, put together well reasoned arguments and make recommendations. It involves analysing situations, making and justifying choices.
What does the course consist of?
The subject is based around the concept of choice and decision making. Students need to consider factors such as objectives, risk, costs, returns, constraints and ethics to decide what to do in any situation.
Decisions will include:
Marketing decisions such as what markets to target, how best to position the business, how to communicate effectively and distribute in a digital world.
Financial decisions such as how to raise finance, how to manage cashflow and how to increase profitability.
Operations decisions such as how to increase efficiency, how to improve quality and how to improve productivity.
Human resource decisions such as how to manage employees, how to motivate and build employee engagement.
Strategic decisions such as how to compete abroad, how to compete digitally, whether to act socially responsibly and how to manage growth.
Students need to understand theory and apply this knowledge to a particular situation.
Who does the subject suit?
To do well on the course you need:
- To be flexible in your thinking- there is no set answer in Business. You need to weigh up a situation to make a decision.
- To be analytical to identify the key issues in a situation.
- Able to make supported judgements. Having an opinion is one thing but being able to put together a logical recommendation building on analysis is another.
- Be comfortable using numbers to support your arguments. The maths involved is not particularly demanding but clearly to make decisions you must be able to compare the likely returns with the investment, assess the value of different projects and interpret data to assess a situation.
- Be able to appreciate that there are different perspective to any decision. What might be good for investors may not be good for employees!
You may have some of these skills already but obviously we will hope to develop them during the course.
How is Business Studies taught at Gateshead College Sixth Form?
Our students say that what they enjoy about Business is that we make it relevant and they can see how it applies to the real world. It also acts as a great bonding experience between students and their parents as students realise quite how much their mothers and fathers know about business and decision making! Our lessons are highly interactive because we want to know what you think.
Everyone has a chance to air their views and defend them. Perhaps most importantly we help you to develop a critical approach to business issues – to think why something happened, to consider what really matters and to look for the best solution in any given situation. There are lots of opportunities to speak to local business people and go on external trips and visits.
Who will teach me?
Paul Unwin is Head of Group and has examined for OCR. He has written several business and economics textbooks for Heinemann. His particular interests in the subject include business strategy and decision making and his most interesting business is SEMCO.
What might the subject lead onto?
The A level provides a good ground in many subject areas and provides a breadth which enables students to go on to a range of degree courses including Marketing, Public Relations, Sociology and Law. Many of our students enjoy the subject so much they want to read it at university. Last year's Business Studies students went on to a variety of Business, advertising and PR courses at the universities of Westminster, Aberystwyth, Northumbria and Edinburgh.