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Admission requirements

Master students


This course focuses on a critical managerial challenge; How to deal with competition and create a sustainable competitive advantage for your organization in the marketplace. Through lectures, case study seminars, readings, and group assignments, students learn about foundational theories and frameworks in strategy. Students learn to use these theories and frameworks to answer questions such as: Why are some firms more successful than other firms in a specific industry? How do I assess the competitive advantage a firm has over other firms in a market? How can managers harness industry dynamics to strengthen a firm’s competitive advantage? What is the role of organisational design in a firm’s competitive advantage? And what are the challenges associated with capitalising on intellectual assets (as opposed to physical assets)?

This course is intended for anyone interested in working in industry as an entrepreneur, manager, consultant, analyst, or investor. Moreover, the course will provide an analytical background for scientists, engineers and medical doctors with an interest in understanding industrial aspects of their academic work. The course emphasises interactive teaching that focuses on real-life case studies.

Course objectives

This course provides students training in the use of key concepts and frameworks for formulating and implementing corporate strategies with an emphasis on firms in technology-intensive industries. At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • conduct analyses of industry structure and competitive dynamics;

  • assess a firm’s competitive (dis)advantage in an industry vis-à-vis other firms;

  • design business models around the commercial exploitation of a a firm’s intellectual capital (e.g. patents, trade secrets, copyright, tacitly held knowhow);

  • formulate recommendations about optimising a firm’s organisational design for its position in the marketplace.


Semester 1:

  • Course: September 2nd – September 24st 2019

  • Exam: September 30th 2019, 13:00 – 16:00 hrs

  • Retake: January 20th 2020 14.15 – 17.45 hrs

Preliminary schedule Semester 2:

  • Course: February 3th – February 19th 2020

  • Exam: February 28th 2020, 10:15 – 13:15 hrs

  • Retake: July 6th 2020 14.15 – 17.15 hrs

Please check the latest version of the schedule on the SBB website.

Mode of instruction

The course emphasises interactive teaching that focuses on real-life case studies. Students will be debriefed, in hindsight, on what really happened.

Course load

  • 8 2-hour case seminars

  • 1-day business game

  • 3 guest lectures

  • Case preparation before each seminar

  • Final 3-hour exam

Assessment method

Class participation (20%)

Students are expected to actively participate in case discussions in class. Apart from class attendance, the following performance evaluation criteria are used to mark students1:

  • Courtesy: Respecting and observing the rules of the game and the rights and dignity of your classmates; limiting participation to a fair share.

  • Coherence: Providing careful analysis and turning vague ideas into precise statements; integrating experiences and learning material with class-room discussion.

  • Cleverness: Quick and deep thinking; ability to abstract and infer.

  • Creativity: contributing ideas that you would not have come across; providing new ways of looking at the world.

  • Courage: Willingness to take risks by espousing unpopular ideas, challenging authority, asking good questions.

  • Character: Special personal attributes, such as a sense of humor or a supportive personality, placed in the service of the class.
    To ensure that their class participation is properly assessed students are required to use the name card they are provided during each class.

Students are marked for class participation for each class, but only the 10 highest marks are counted towards the student’s class participation mark. Therefore, students can achieve the maximum class participation mark while skipping three lectures.

Group assignments (20%)

Students are assigned to groups at the end of the first week of class. Group assignments are listed on the Blackboard site of the course. Students are required to submit a total of 5 group assignments. These group assignments should be submitted in the form of a single power point slide that addresses a question about the case study that is discussed in class the next day. The slide should be submitted in a ‘power point format.’ This means that the group’s contribution can be presented using bullet points, graphical representations, etc. to convey the argument the group wishes to make. Group assignments should be submitted by midnight the day before the class via Blackboard.

Group assignments are marked on a 0-5 scale.

We ask students to notify SBB staff as soon as possible in case of problems with group members so that we can step in and resolve these problems.

Final exam (60%)

The final exam covers the readings for the course and the material discussed during the lectures/seminars.

In order to pass students must have a total grade of at least a 6 (six). The final grade is rounded off to the nearest half or integer.


Yes, students can go to Blackboard to enrol themselves one month before the start of the course.

Reading list

A list of required readings consisting of journal articles and cases, will be provided in the course syllabus and on the blackboard site for the course.


Students have to register for the course in uSis. The registration in uSis will open two months before the start of the academic year. Click here for instructions.

There is limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme coordinator.

More information on the different types of registration can be found here.



Note: If you are an ICTiBPS student, you can contact the programme coordinator of ICTiBPS for any questions about your program.

1: These criteria are adapted from: https://teaching.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/appendix_b-_peer_evaluation_criteria.pdf (last downloaded 18 August 2018).