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Overview

Equipping practising and aspiring managers to design and implement business improvement strategies which will have a positive impact.

Summary

Study Business Improvement at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

The part-time MSc Business Improvement course equips managers with the knowledge and skills required to better examine their processes and procedures in order to effect strategic improvements and change.

This results in organisations which are more efficient and effective. The programme has kept pace with new innovations and developments in the area of business improvement and has supported businesses with continuous improvement. The concept of business improvement originated in the domain of manufacturing and tradable services. However, perhaps as a result of the intellectual force of new public management and the Review of Public Administration (2002) in Northern Ireland, the concept of business improvement now permeates all aspects of economic activity across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Indeed, job titles such as Director of Improvement and Business Improvement Manager are becoming more apparent across a range of public service departments.

The course is recognised and accredited by ICIPS - the Institute of Continuous Improvement in Public Services, although it is not limited to those in the public sector.

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About this course

In this section

About

The course recognises a need for organisations and their managers to become focused on the integration of quality and continuous improvement and as such, the course has been shaped and designed by leading academics and business leaders using the European Foundation Quality Model (EFQM) Excellence Model as its inspiration.

The European Framework for Quality Management (EFQM, 2013) introduces fundamental concepts of excellence which are practitioner-focused. The framework encourages organisations to strive towards eight concepts of excellence, which can only be achieved by actually doing something about it. As such, it is a practical model which helps organisations to realise their potential. All modifications to these eight fundamental concepts of excellence, in addition to the new associated emphases, have been fully reflected in the module content for this course.

Students will study a diet of modules which will help them to gain a practical understanding of a variety of business improvement subject areas.

Over years 1 and 2, students work towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Improvement, taking a total of 8 modules. Once these have been successfully completed students can then move on to complete the full Master's qualification by completing a Research Methods module and a Business Transformation Project.

The course provides a structure to business improvement which allows students to follow a logical journey. Year 1 of the course introduces students to the “enabler” aspects of business improvement, year 2 of the course focuses on the “results” of business improvement. In year 3, students are given the opportunity to research a complex business improvement problem in depth via a supervised dissertation.

Attendance

Each module is taught on a three day block basis. This minimises the time required for students to be out of the workplace: students will typically be at the University 12 days per year.

The course has been designed to enable part-time students to complete the course over two years. In Year 1, students complete 40 credit points in semester 1, 20 credit points in semester 2 and 20 credit points in semester 3. In Year 2, students complete 20 credit points in semester 1, 40 credit points in semester 2 and 40 credit points in semester 3.

Students who successfully complete the two modules in semester 1 and the module in semester 2 (to a value of 60 credit points) may exit with a Postgraduate Certificate. Students who successfully complete the module in semester 3 of Year 1 and two modules across semesters 1 and 2 of Year 2 (to a value of 120 credit points) may exit with a Postgraduate Diploma.

Start dates

  • September 2016
How to apply

Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand.

In this section

Year one

Innovation Management

Year: 1

Innovation Management is a fast moving area of Business Improvement studies where technology and market development require managers and employees to be at the forefront of knowledge in this area. The module covers contemporary developments in the field in relation to theory and organisational practice. Learning in this area has the potential to lead to improvements such as shorter cycle times and lower costs in knowledge transfer and new product development.

Strategy

Year: 1

Strategy consists of the analysis and decisions an organisation undertakes in order to create and sustain competitive advantage. Understanding these interrelated processes is crucial for creating and developing organisations. This module explores these decisions areas from a range of contemporary perspectives and contexts.

Quality and Process Management

Year: 1

Excellent organisations are managed through structured and strategically aligned processes using fact-based decision making to create balanced and sustained results. To achieve excellence, organisations must focus on how their processes are designed to deliver a strategy, using end-to-end management beyond the "classic" boundaries of the organisation. Excellent organisations design, manage and improve processes to generate increasing value for customers and other stakeholders.

Operational Excellence

Year: 1

Operations and process management is about how organisations produce goods and services. This module aims to enable students to acquire knowledge and a critical understanding of Operations Management, an understanding of the tasks, issues and decisions that are necessary to manage processes effectively and the tools to analyse process performance. This knowledge and understanding is essential for effective and efficient business improvement. Learning will be by teaching, discussion and independent study.

Year two

Financial Decision Making

Year: 2

The module will introduce students to both financial and management accounting information and equip them with a greater understanding of the reasons behind some of the figures they will increasingly encounter as they progress through their organisations.

Leadership and Change Management

Year: 2

The module considers theoretical perspectives in managing organisational change and using them asks participants to analyse situations within their organisations to make recommendations on the management of change their organisation.

People Development and Involvement

Year: 2

Excellent organisations value their people to ensure a mutually beneficial alignment of organisational and personal goals. This module aims to enable students to acquire knowledge and an understanding of the core areas of Human Resource Management (HRM) and the factors which influence behaviour within organisations. This knowledge and understanding is essential for effective and efficient business improvement through effectively managing, empowering and developing people. Learning will be by teaching, discussion and independent study.

Business Transformation Project

Year: 2

The Management Project enables students to apply the theoretical concepts encountered on the MSc Business Improvement to a "live" management issue. In doing so they choose appropriate research methodologies, gather data and make conclusions and recommendations to the host organisation.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

This course is designed for those who are working in areas where they can make improvements within the organisation; therefore all applicants should ideally be employed in a related role.

Applicants will normally be expected to have achieved a Bachelor's degree or equivalent professional qualification in any discipline. It is expected that applicants will normally be in a position within their organisation to effect change, or for those who aspire to such a position.

Applications from those who do not have a Bachelor's degree are welcome, many of our students have significant work and management experience but no formal degree qualification.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

The teaching of this course is in 3 day blocks, which allows for discussion and exploring theory and practice in depth using examples from students' own experiences and organisations. The 3 day block model also allows us to bring in guest speakers from industry to further explore theory and practice.

Assessment is via written assignments for each module which are largely set within each participant's own organisation. Students are therefore able to make a direct impact within their own organisations and make a difference to the bottom line.

Exemptions and transferability

Students are normally expected to have a degree. However we also encourage applications from candidates who have extensive work experience but no formal academic qualifications.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

This course is primarily aimed at equipping students with skills to allow them to improve the operational performance of their organisation. The MSc Business Improvement can lead individuals into more strategic or senior positions within their organisation or into more focused business improvement positions.

Those who join the course are usually in positions where they are effecting change in a variety of organisations. Students are able to make an immediate impact as the assessment for the course is based on the organisation that the individual works for - this helps them to make a positive impact on the organisation's results.

Students who have studied on the course over the last few years have included representatives from organisations such as Bombardier, BE Aerospace, FG Wilson, NI Water and other public sector organisations.

Apply

Application is via www.ulster.ac.uk/applyonline.

If you would like to discuss your application please contact:

Nick Read E: n.read@ulster.ac.uk T: 028 9036 8880

Alan McKittrick E: a.mckittrick@ulster.ac.uk T: 028 9036 6359

How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2016

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Tuition fees shown are for last years entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to an annual increase. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study. Read our Tuition Fees Payment Policy

Northern Ireland & EU:
£6,700.00
International:
£12,890.00

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Prizes are awarded to students who show outstanding performance in particular modules, on the course.

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.

Contact

Contact Details

For further details on this programme please contact the Department Office on:

T: +44 (0) 28 9036 8880

F: +44 (0) 28 9036 8459

E: n.read@ulster.ac.uk

Course Director

Alan McKittrick

T: +44 (0) 28 9036 6359

F: +44 (0) 28 9036 8459

E: a.mckittrick@ulster.ac.uk

Testimonials

Darren Mawhinney

Glen Dimplex is a €2 billion turnover manufacturing group with 10,000 employees throughout the World. It is active in both developed and emerging markets and its success is firmly based on delivering high quality products consistently and cost effectively.

"When competing in global markets local companies must find a differentiator other than price – someone in an emerging market can always produce your products much cheaper. The key to international success lies in providing consistent quality in both design and manufacturing to an engaged and informed customer base. The MSc in Business Improvement helped me to understand the strategic approaches to quality adopted throughout the world along with their strengths and weaknesses. Local business success is relatively easy to achieve, sustained international success takes much more ambition and hard work; together with the realisation that business improvement is not about winning awards but is about ensuring consistent quality and value for your customers."

Paul Carson

"I studied the MSc in Business Improvement at Jordanstown and found it to be my single most important piece of study to date. Every module was relevant to my daily work which meant the literature review undertaken could be transferred into a workplace project. This enabled the company to see and gain a return on their investment whilst also raising my profile within the company.

I use a particular module every day in work, process improvement. The tools and models taught during the Process Improvement module enabled me to break complex business processes down into smaller manageable processes that can be measured. This is supported with visual management techniques that enable my department to be agile and responsive through factual decision making thus increasing customer focus and output.
As each module was completed I found myself grow into a better all-round manager and my professional outlook changed as I became more business astute. The course gave me a new outlook at work and enabled me to look beyond daily work related issues and think strategically.

Whilst the course stretches and helps you grow the supportive campus environment made it an enjoyable experience and to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr "a mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions".

Since completing my MSc I have made the next step in my career which was at a higher level. My employer, BE Aerospace, stated that one factor that separated me from other candidates was my MSc."