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Retail management is about managing the whole retail process, from the raw materials through to the final products that are sold to the consumer. This means it’s an incredibly broad sector and one that opens up a range of career options to you.

In fact, graduates of this course are considered to be among the best in the country among many retailers, because of the depth of knowledge and technical skills that they have. During this course you’ll cover every aspect of the retail process, and will tackle a number of live case study assignments on behalf of blue-chip retailers; in the past they have included Waitrose, Harrods and Marks & Spencer, presenting your findings to senior managers from these companies.

Among the key skills this degree will equip you with are analysis and critical evaluation, as well as fostering your creativity and innovation. 96% of our final year students agree our staff are good at explaining things and making the subject interesting – why not come and meet us?

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

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 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


4 years including a minimum 30-week work placement

Relevant subjects:

All subjects considered

Entry requirements:

For 2017 entry: (we will use the new UCAS tariff): 104 to 120 tariff points, including 2 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM. For more information check out our 2017 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

51% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 45%
  • Year 2: 75%
  • Year 3: 0% (placement year)
  • Year 4: 85%

Throughout the course you will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, but you will also undertake group work and written exams.

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 three 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

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/triple Distinction in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications). What’s more we’ll recognise your achievement if you meet these grades with an Academic Excellence Scholarship from £1,500 when you arrive*.

We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. Excellent grades will become a part of applicants’ CVs and are also required for BU’s scholarships. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements. *Our scholarships are subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria, detailed on our scholarships pages.

2017 entry requirements

The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry.

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

UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

GCSEs: This course requires a 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..

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 askBU Enquiry Service 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 askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3, remainder at level 2 or equivalent). Any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit
  • Diploma: This course requires a Distinction, Merit from the 12 unit Diploma in addition to an A-Level Grade B in a relevant subject to achieve the overall tariff.
  • 90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-Levels or equivalent qualifications.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: This course requires a Distinction from the 6 unit qualification in addition to two A-Levels in relevant subjects to achieve the overall tariff.

A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.

European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 75% overall.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomes as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 28-31 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma + one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.

Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit.

Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.

Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

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 £21,000 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.

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.

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

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

Find out about fees and funding, including scholarships and bursaries.

Open Days

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International students

International students

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