This course prepares students for the AQA Business Studies A Level syllabus (2130), for examinations in June 2013 and later years. For examination details see Assessment under the Course Overview section.
The A Level Business Studies course is split into four units:
- Unit 1 - Planning and Financing a Business
- Unit 2 - Managing a Business
- Unit 3 - Strategies for Success
- Unit 4 - The Business Environment and Managing Change
Unit 1 - Planning and Financing a Business
In the study of this unit you will examine the topic areas below in relation to the two core themes: Starting a Business and Financial Planning.
a) Starting a Business
This section provides you with an introduction to the scope of Business Studies within the context of starting a new business. You will be expected to have an understanding of the following range of activities involved in setting up a small business:
- Generating and protecting business ideas
- Transforming resources into goods and services
- Developing business plans
- Conducting start-up market research
- Understanding markets
- Choosing the right legal structure for the business
- Raising finance
- Locating the business
- Employing people
b) Financial Planning
This section provides you with an understanding of key financial concepts essential for the planning of small businesses. You will be expected to carry out calculations and to be able to interpret their results.
- Calculating costs, revenues and profits
- Using break-even analysis to make decisions
- Using cash flow forecasting
- Setting budgets
- Assessing business start-ups
Unit 2 - Managing a Business
In the study of this unit of the AQA A Level Business Studies course, you will examine the topic areas below in relation to the core theme of improving the effectiveness of a business. You will be able to calculate and be able to interpret data measuring the effectiveness of the business. These measurements should include: profitability, labour productivity, labour turnover, unit costs and market share.
This section introduces you to the importance of the management of finance. You will understand that financial measures can be used to indicate how well a business is managed and will understand actions that can be taken to improve financial performance. You will be expected to carry out calculations and to be able to interpret their results. This section builds upon 'Financial Planning' in Unit One.
- Using budgets
- Improving cash flow
- Measuring and increasing profit
b) People in Business
This section considers the issues that managers face in relation to managing the human element to make a business more effective. You will appreciate the value of these techniques in tactical decision-making.
- Improving organisational structures
- Measuring the effectiveness of the workforce
- Developing an effective workforce: recruitment, selection, training
- Developing and retaining an effective workforce: motivating employees
c) Operations Management
This section should promote understanding of the importance of operational decisions in managing a business in tertiary, secondary and primary sectors. You will understand how operations management can help a business to be more effective, and the role that can be played in this by technology.
- Making operational decisions
- Developing effective operations: quality
- Developing effective operations: customer service
- Working with suppliers
- Using technology in operations
d) Marketing and the Competitive Environment
In this section you will understand the importance of marketing to businesses and issues affecting their competitiveness. The study of marketing at AS Level should focus on using the results of market research and developing an appropriate and integrated marketing mix. Consideration should be given to how information technology might be used to assist marketing.
- Effective marketing
- Designing and effective marketing mix
- Using the marketing mix: product
- Using the marketing mix: promotion
- Using the marketing mix: pricing
- Using the marketing mix: place
- Marketing and competitiveness
Unit 3 - Strategies for Success
- In the study of this unit you will examine the topic areas below in relation to the core themes of setting objectives, measuring performance and devising strategy. The assessment for this unit will draw upon AS material which you should use to respond to A2 questions.
a) Functional Objectives and Strategies
This section introduces you to functional objectives and strategies, and examines their appropriateness in the context of corporate objectives.
- Using objectives and strategies
b) Financial Strategies and Accounts
This section examines the financial objectives of larger businesses, the ways in which financial performance might be measured and the strategies they may deploy. It builds upon AS Finance material.
- Understanding financial objectives
- Using financial data to measure and assess performance
- Interpreting published accounts
- Selecting financial strategies
- Making investment decisions
c) Marketing Strategies
This section considers the development of marketing strategies for larger businesses through a scientific approach to decision making. It builds upon AS Marketing materials.
- Understanding marketing objectives
- Analysing markets and marketing
- Selecting marketing strategies
- Developing and implementing marketing plans
d) Operational Strategies
This section considers the operational objectives and strategies that a business may use to achieve success in its particular market. It builds upon AS Operations materials.
- Understanding operational objectives
- Operational Strategies: scale and resource mix
- Operational Strategies: innovation
- Operational Strategies: location
- Operational Strategies: Lean production
e) Human Resource Strategies
This section considers the strategies available to businesses in managing their human resources. It builds upon AS Human Resources materials.
- Understanding HR objectives and strategies
- Developing and implementing workforce plans
- Competitive organisational structures
- Effective employer/employee relations
Unit 4 - The Business Environment and Managing Change
This unit is designed to be synoptic and draws upon all other units of the specification including the AS units.
It considers the relationship between businesses and external factors. It examines how external factors can impact upon businesses, and the responses they may take. The unit also examines a number of themes which are important in the strategic management of businesses, for example, leadership and corporate culture.
You will consider how businesses can manage change successfully.
This unit should be studied through a variety of real business contexts to allow you to understand how the impact and response to change varies.
a) Corporate Aims and Objectives
This section considers what the organisation is attempting to achieve, and how this helps to determine its strategies.
- Understanding mission, aims and objectives
b) Assessing Changes in the Business Environment
This section examines the relationships between organisations and their externalenvironment. You will understand the opportunities and threats created by changes in the contemporary business environment. The importance of acquiring and managing information and of communicating effectively should be considered throughout.
- The relationship between businesses and the economic environment
- The relationship between businesses and the political and legal environment
- The relationship between businesses and the social environment
- The relationship between businesses and the technological environment
- The relationship between businesses and the competitive environment
c) Managing Change
Organisations operate in a changing environment and change creates opportunities and threats.
You will understand how businesses plan for and manage change, and how external and internal change is linked.
- Internal causes of change
- Planning for change
- Key influences on the change process: leadership
- Key influences on the change process: culture
- Making strategic decisions
- Implementing and managing change