UCL Centre for Systems Engineering


The Business Environment

What this course is about

This module introduces students to the business aspects of organisations engaged in developing technology and complex systems, to enable them to make effective decisions that are sensitive to the needs of the enterprise. 

At the end of this module, the student will be able to:

    • Appraise the environment in which the enterprise operates and consider its leadership
    • Evaluate the role of ethics in business decision making
    • Identify and critique the factors influencing an organisation's strategy development
    • Suggest and analyse the marketing mix
    • Compare sources of finance and analyse how they comprise the firm's capital structure
    • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of different investment appraisal techniques
    • Differentiate key issues involved with supply and procurement
    • Evaluate different organisational structures and their implications for the work environment

      Teaching mode

      The module usually runs anually and is taught through a mixture of lectures, interactive discussions and group exercises which facilitate networking among peers.


      This module is 15 credits. It is a core module on the MSc Systems Engineering Management, the MSc Technology Management and the MSc Management of Complex Projects.

      Module context

      The nature of the working environment is discussed, including organisational structures, aspects of power, leadership and motivation.

      We explore the generic strategies and business models employed by organisations, as well as how to market products and how to evaluate projects financially using the concept of net present value and real options, and how organisations are financed - including traditional sources as well as new developments in crowd sourcing.

      Since technology products are rarely developed by one supplier organisation in isolation, we also discuss outsourcing and how to manage a supply chain, including contract management and the process of inviting and responding to proposals for new projects. 

      As well as discussing these internal activities of the organisation, we seek to develop an understanding of the economic environment we face when embarking on new projects. This is through a high-level look at basic economic principles such as supply and demand, cost and revenue, profitability, differentiation and barriers to market entry, as well as an analysis of the current global economic conditions.

      Throughout, learning is supported with use of case studies that demonstrate the application of taught principles.

      Sources of Innovation