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BA (Hons) Retail Management

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Retail management is an incredibly broad and demanding sector, and concerns managing the entire retail process end-to-end; from the raw materials through to the customer-ready products.

Our Retail Management degree has been designed to deliver the specialist knowledge and analytical skills required to succeed in this industry, whether your goal is to work in branding or strategic marketing, consumer psychology or buying & merchandising, whatever your goal, this degree can help you reach it.

Accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, this four-year course covers every aspect of the retail process, and tackles a number of live case study assignments on behalf of blue-chip retailers. In the past these have included Waitrose, Harrods and Marks & Spencer; and you’ll even get to present your findings to the companies’ senior managers.

A 30-week work placement, completed at home or overseas in year three, is designed to add real-world context to the theoretical and practical framework forged on campus, as well as bearing a bounty of crucial contacts, bolstering your resume and enhancing your personal employability. What’s more in your final year you’ll get to complement your portfolio of core modules, with a pick and mix selection of subjects designed to bring your curriculum in line with your career aspirations. 

Discover more about international opportunities on this course by reading one of our student blogs about the Retail Management course trip to Madrid.

The work placement at Marks & Spencer was extremely beneficial and allowed me to gain an insight into the retail environment from a head office perspective.” – Olivia Martin, 2016

96% of our final year students agree our staff are good at explaining things. Join us on live chat now to find out more, or register to meet us at an open day. You can also gain a more detailed insight about this course by watching our online presentation delivered by course leader Corinna Budnarowska.

Interested in studying this course part-time? Enquire now.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


4 years including a minimum 30-week work placement


The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Insitute of Direct Marketing and Digital Marketing (IDM)

Required subjects:

All subjects considered

Entry requirements:

For 2018 entry: 104-120 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM. For more information check out our 2018 entry requirements page.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.0 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent. For more information check out our international entry requirements page.

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant retail expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry including many of our alumni. Previous guest lectures have included Jeremy Fennell, Marketing Director of Dixons Carphone and James Heese, Trading Director for Hobbycraft.

Year 1

In your first year, you’ll look at a variety of subjects to help you understand the wider retail context.

Core units

  • Contemporary Issues in Retailing: Here, you'll learn about the nature, significance, organisation and development of the contemporary retail industry in the UK, and explore the issues affecting retail development through research.
  • Retailing in the Digital Age: Familiarise yourself with operational and managerial uses of technology and management information systems that have helped the digitalisation of retailing. Learn about various methods of digitalisation in retailing how this has affected operational activities and the customer purchase journey.
  • Retail Marketing: You'll come up with marketing strategies for retail organisations and markets. You'll learn about current marketing theories and how they're used in the retail industry.
  • Finance & Business Research: Retail managers must have a good understanding of accounting concepts to control resources and interpret financial data. In this unit you'll gain business skills in accountancy and analysis. You'll be introduced to financial and management accounting, which will prepare you for performance analysis and decision-making later in the course and in the workplace.
  • Global Economics & International Retailing: Retailers are increasingly exploring opportunities to expand beyond their domestic market. You'll explore the nature of the global economy, including how it's connected and measured, along with international retail mission in this. You'll learn about the characteristics and issues of retail formats.
  • Retail Resource Management: An introduction to the most important parts of store-based retail operations, where you'll learn about vital aspects of a retail operation's sustained success. This includes legal requirements.

Year 2

In your second year, you'll look at Head Office decision-making roles and the skills you'll need to work in Head Office.

Core units

  • Consumer Behaviour: Develop your understanding of the individual and social processes that influence human behaviour, and how this relates to people as consumers. You'll learn to evaluate and apply theories to the retail sector.
  • Managing People: Understand the difficulties of managing people in the workplace. You'll learn about self-marketing, the HR framework governing business operations and the principles of social psychology and sociology. This unit will help you gain skills for your industrial work placement in Year Three.
  • Retail Research & Analysis: Learn how to assess the range of research techniques retailers' use and how research is collected. You'll also learn about the benefits of different research methods, and assess their suitability for answering research questions.
  • Omni-Channel Retailing & Supply Chain Management: Explore the changing customer purchase journey and the impact that omni-channel retailing has had on supply chain decisions and processes. You'll learn to apply the operational, managerial and strategic uses of technology and management information systems to an omni-channel retail environment, and consider the end-to-end process of product development in retail.
  • Retail Buying & Merchandising: Learn about the processes of retail buying and merchandising in theory and practice, and how to recognise the links and differences between the roles of buyers and merchandisers in retail.
  • Retail Design & Development: Demonstrate an understanding of concept design and associated performance issues within the changing retail consumer environment. Creatively explore current trends in retail that focus on retail concept design developments in theory and practice, mostly from a consumer perspective. You'll learn about visual and verbal forms of argument, and how design ideas are expressed and approved.

Year 3

  • Placement: A minimum of 30-weeks supervised work placement in the UK or overseas where you'll get a chance to develop a practical understanding of retailing before exploring top-level management in in your final year.

Year 4

In your final year, there will be a focus on the corporate decisions made at Board Room level.

Core units

  • Dissertation: A piece of independent work that involves collecting, interpreting and analysing data. You'll share your key findings through a sustained and balanced argument. The dissertation will develop your analytical and problem solving skills. You'll develop a critical attitude to research methods, and the ethical issues associated with researching.
  • Strategic Retail Marketing & Management: Here, you'll look beyond the creation and value transfer principles of management and develop a view of managing a service-based organisation in a complex and dynamic environment. You'll build on your understanding of the current retail marketing environment so you can critique and propose a marketing-based approach to company decisions on segment branding, positioning and purchase targeting company in a retail sector.
  • Retail Consultancy & Research: Research a business problem, identify solutions and making proposals that satisfy a corporate client’s needs and circumstances. You'll use the skills you developed on your placement for a management consultancy exercise (You can choose this unit or one from the list below as an alternative).

Option units (choose one)

  • e-Business: You'll analyse and evaluate the implications of changing information communication technology, in terms of how this might affect or has already affected the service sector. You'll explore the opportunities and threats technology presents to consumers, businesses and public sector organisations.
  • Fashion Marketing: The fashion industry is present in all areas of the service sector. You'll get the opportunity to explore how fashion can be used, through marketing, in this sector to appeal to fashion-conscious consumers. You should consider choosing this unit if you'd like a career involving fashion.
  • Languages: Language skills for social and professional contact at home and overseas. It builds on your previous learning by introducing you to a range of occupational situations and strategies for effective business communication.
  • Professionalism & Leadership: Improve your professionalism through personal reflection, group feedback and experiential learning. Analyse your leadership and management skills in situations you might encounter, and identify opportunities in large companies and training schemes.
  • Retail Place & Space: Learn about places and spaces for retail and the types of consumer experiences, including leisure, recreational and tourist perspectives on service spaces. These theories come from intense studies of three key areas that have created philosophical and conceptual interests in recent decades. This covers more than the service and retail industries.
  • Small Business Management: Learn about the role of small businesses in the economy, along with their aims, strengths and weaknesses. You'll develop enterprise awareness and an entrepreneurial mindset, which will help you assess business opportunities.
  • Digital Marketing: This unit will provide you with practical and theoretical knowledge for using and evaluating digital marketing. You'll develop a sound understanding of digital marketing principles.
  • Financial Management: An opportunity to study financial management, building on your earlier studies in finance and accounting. You'll develop an appreciation for how organisations make financial decisions within the context of corporate strategy, and an understanding of financial management roles in organisations.
  • Creative Media & Events: The 21st Century is marked by the rise of computing, digital and social media technologies. This unit will interrogate these technologies and explore how they've changed the event industry's markets, policies, professional actions and products. You'll critically explore the positive and negative potentials of these rapidly evolving technologies in a social-cultural context, and create innovative product applications for the event industry.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

The emphasis of this course is in guided independent learning, which helps you develop into a self-motivated learner. When not attending lectures and seminars, you will be expected to read around the subject. Your typical week’s activities will include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments. The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course.

Year 1 – 25% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 247 hours
  • Independent learning: 953 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 73 hours

Year 2 – 20% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 181 hours
  • Independent learning: 1019 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 6 hours

Year 3 (placement year)

Year 4 - 17% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 243 hours
  • Independent learning: 966 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 10 hours

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, and you will also undertake group work and written exams. The assessment methods for each unit can be found on the programme profile in the programme specification for your course. As an indication, 70% of the most popular units on this course in 2016/17 were assessed by coursework.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for BA (Hons) Retail Management.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career. We are proud that our students have played their part in the success of top firms working in roles such as Retail Sales Support Analyst, Buyer's Assistant, Visual Merchandising Intern, Marketing Assistant, Management Trainee, Press & PR Intren. Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?

What’s more, you can also choose to undertake your placement abroad, giving you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market.

We will provide a great deal of help and support to ensure you achieve a rewarding and satisfying placement. We have strong links to outside agencies and organisations to best support you along your professional development, and dedicated placement officers to support you.

Our students perform very well on placement and a number of firms return to us year-on-year to source BU placement students.

Our students have previously worked for:

  • The Body Shop
  • Mark & Specers
  • Debenhams
  • Bentley Motors
  • Warner Bros
  • Aldi
  • TK Maxx
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Dixons Carphone
  • Waitrose.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Your application

Background and experience

For this course we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have a clear passion for the retail industry
  • Have an ability to analyse complex situations and data
  • Are creative and innovative thinkers
  • Are prepared to take a leadership role early in their career.

To succeed in the competitive and demanding world of retailing, potential managers need an understanding of the industry and the environment in which it operates in addition to the technical and functional skills necessary for success. Retailers recognise the demands they place on graduates entering the industry, and significant responsibility and reward often comes at an early age.

Equipped with the skills of analysis and critical evaluation, and with a high level of innovative and creative ability, you will become highly effective in key areas of the business such as marketing and promotions, personnel, buying and operations.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications; there are no interviews or selection activities needed. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme

Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.

You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-level or equivalent.

2018 entry requirements

We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.

The entry requirements for this course are 104-120 tariff points including 2 A-levels or equivalent. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM.

Excluded subjects: General Studies.

GCSEs: This course requires a minimum of GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the Future Students Enquiry team to find out more.

Other qualifications: We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the Future Students Enquiry team – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: 102 - 112 tariff points with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades.

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit (112 tariff points)
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff
  • BTEC National Foundation Diploma/ 90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent
  • BTEC National Extended Certifcate/ Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 104-120 tariff points including 2 principal subjects

Cambridge Technical qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires 112 tariff points
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff
  • Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
  • Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): 28-31 points overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Advanced Higher: 104-120 tariff points including 2 Advanced Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.

Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

Deferred entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.0 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students' page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.

Options include:


There are numerous career paths you can embark on after completing this degree, with many of our former students now working in world-renowned retailers. Your 30-week work placement is an unrivalled opportunity to develop connections within the industry and you may even be sponsored by your employer through the final year of your course if you perform well.

Within six months of graduating, 90% of our students are in work or further study earning an average £24,000 per year. They are employed by companies such as Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Argos, Cath Kidston, L'Oreal, Toys 'R' Us, House of Fraser and Tesco to name just a few. We have 22 Chief Executives/Managing Directors amongst our retail alumni and also 48 main Board Directors. Among the roles you can go into are:

  • Buyer
  • Merchandiser
  • Trainee manager
  • Store manager
  • Marketing assistant.

You are not restricted to a career in the UK with this degree either, and can easily work overseas within an international retailer.

Industries worked in

  • Retail
  • Commerce
  • E-commerce.

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Our lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the retail sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.

Corinna Budnarowska

Programme leader for BA (Hons) Retail Management

Corinna Budnarowska is an academic with a strong practitioner background in the fields of retail and fashion. Her retail fashion business was voted by Retail Week as one of the `Top 100 Must Visit Stores in the World' (2004). Corinna teaches in the areas of Fashion Marketing, Digital Marketing and Retail, Omni-channel Retailing and Supply Chain Management. Corinna undertakes consultancy for the Retail and Fashion Industries.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages 
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the student section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit. 

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Course changes

The table below indicates any changes to the course content.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text

After an annual review of the placement year tuition fee,  a price increase in line with current inflation, equating to 3% has been introduced.

Fees £790
06/09/17 2018 GCSE entry requirements have changed to: minimum of GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent. 2018 entry requirements

minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.

What our graduates think

Helen Hyland

My placement was incredibly varied and I have been involved in projects to assist in the improvement of logistics, marketing and e-commerce.

Hear employers think

Steve Clarke

Over the past 25 years I have been at lots of presentations from multinational companies and this presentation [BU students] would not be out of place.

What our graduates think

Ben Smith

My studies at BU enabled me to land a job as the youngest assistant buyer at B&Q using theories I learnt such as consumer behaviour to add value there.

Additional information

Students in Dylans Bar

Fees and funding

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Open day walking courtyard

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Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.