University subject profile: business, management and marketing | Business management and marketing

What you’ll learn
Business and management degrees focus on how organisations operate – their business strategies and styles of management. Marketing is the art of communicating with customers, drawing on psychology, sociology, marketing and politics to promote the value of a business or product.

A diverse range of courses are on offer within these related fields. Some will lean more towards commerce or retail; others will focus on tourism or international business. The common threads of any business degree, however, tend to be finance, marketing and human resource management.

You’ll gain an understanding of markets, finance, operations, managing people, information systems, policy, strategy and data. Courses will also explore a business’s ethical implications. If your work focuses on retail, you might debate fair trade issues, for example.

A key part of managing people is the ability to relate to them and understand their needs. Marketing students will develop an ability to understand market needs and customer behaviour, and improve client satisfaction.

How you’ll learn
Some business courses will have a more defined vocational element, so you’ll be working in a team to create a company and market a product before you’ve finished looking at your reading list. This group work will help you build up your teamwork and leadership skills. Other courses will make work placements a compulsory part of the degree. Most universities will boast of having good links with business, which means visiting lecturers and the chance to build contacts. You’ll likely be assessed through coursework, though there will probably also be a practical element to assessment (through presentations, for instance).

Marketing degree students can make use of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Graduate Gateway to acquire an additional qualification by taking a small number of top-up modules.

Entry requirements
An A-level (or equivalent) in maths, economics or business studies is likely to help your application. Marketing degrees generally have flexible entry requirements, but A-levels in English, media studies or business may help your application for the more competitive courses.

What job can you get?
These are popular courses, meaning tougher competition for jobs. And because it’s not as specialist a field as architecture or medicine, you may end up against graduates with economics or history degrees who decide they want a career in business. It is worth remembering that most startup businesses fail within their first three years, so if you’re hoping to be a small business owner you will need to display tenacity and develop a thick skin.

That said, the nature of your business course and the practical experience you gain will mean you’re well placed to get a job in the financial sector or in one of the top companies that recruit graduates. Graduate schemes should give you a good general grounding in business and the chance to focus on a particular area, such as human resources, or finance or marketing.

And these skills aren’t just appreciated by advertising agencies. Organisations from a wide range of sectors – public, private and voluntary – all have a marketing department, while the ability to communicate, debate and present well will be looked on favourably by employers everywhere.