Another opinion on the A-levels I am, or in this case - used to do. This time, it's business studies. WHAT'S IN THE COURSE The course is split up in to 6 different sections for the AS, then another 6 for the full A-level. There is work on marketing, business types, use of IT within business, starting a business, working in business, accounting and finance, product differentiation and lots of case studies to do. COURSEWORK The main piece of coursework for the AS is writing a long, detailed report about a medium to large company of your choice. Examples include McDonalds, Barclays, Cadbury's, Virgin etc. The brief is to analyse the management style, structure and culture in quite heavy detail, as well as write a report about the companies operations, standards and practices. This is quite a lengthy piece of work, but nobody in the class seemed to be doing any of it (and whenever I talk to people I know in the class they seem to be telling me that the working environment within the class is way too informal to get any serious work done... and that the classes become a hindrance to the learning). SYLLABUS The syllabus is really quite easy. Most people who have done GCSE can run through this quite simply and pass without too much work, but those who are new to the subject (like lots of the people in my old group) may have a bit more difficulty getting in to the whole notion of business. WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN PICKING THIS COURSE Unfortunately, when picking a subject like business studies, you have to make sure that your going to get good staffing and a good group. That was the main reason I dropped business - the group was filled with people who had just picked Business as 'best of a bad bunch' and didn't really want to do it. That's the main problem with the current A-level system. It's a shame when you get put in a group filled with unmotivated students, it becomes demotivating
for you, and your work rates drop. The rest of the group will always have an effect on you. If they're too quick, you'll get left behind, or if they're too slow (the case in point), you'll be slowed down and won't be working at your full potential. That's why I thought that if I was in the group I was in I would not get any work done at all, and not learn anything from the teachers (who are incidentally, brilliant, as I have them both for Law). The subject was also a little boring. I'm not sure why, because I did it for my GCSE's and really enjoyed it. I think it's repackaging in to the AVCE format (you know, those silly modular exam things...). Another main problem was the amount of time I'd have to spend down in the local 'youth centre' (with it's temporary class room). Now, the youth centre is a bit of a craphole, and it's known among my circle of mates that you'll probably get some horrible infectious disease from spending too much time down there. From my 'contact' within the class (who, incidentally, occasionally writes for dooyoo - Todd L - okay, no more namedropping... Promise!), says that since my departure from the class, that they have learnt absolutely nothing (his exact words were: "You could summarise everything I've learnt since you left on the back of a postage stamp in very large letters".). WHAT'S MY PROBLEM WITH IT Business Studies is a very relevant course in real life. For example, many of us will at one point (or generally more) work within a business, and having a working knowledge of how it all runs is a very handy addition to your CV. But sometimes where your working and your attitudes can run amok to real life, education and all that bollocks.. I mean very useful stuff. And, based on my few weeks spent on this course (of which 90% of it was sitting there hoping to leave, as soon as possible), I think that th
e old adage "You'll learn more in the first six months of work than in your whole time at school and university" is true, but it's generally the first 5 minutes rather than six months. GENERAL ADVICE: This subject is broad and constantly changing. Do your research with the college you intend to take this up at, try and meet the teachers and think about who might be in your class (if your moving up from GCSE, this should be quite easy), and if the possibility is a class full of dossers, acquit from this situation. It's not advisable.
In what other subject could you watch 4 videos a week, go on trips to chocolate factories and still end up with an A Level? While I will admit that most schools don’t do these things, we did for the whole 2 years of 6th form Business Studies lessons. We did do some work of course (how else do you think so many of us ended up with 100% in our modules?) , but I have to confess that more of our lessons were spend playing “educational” computer games and watching “Trouble at the Top” (and occasionally “Austin Powers....”) than reading text books. What I do remember from the syllabus though is this. We did the AEB Modular Syllabus which gave us exams spread out through 1999 and 2000. Some of our modules were: Marketing: Lots of work on the 4Ps Product, Price, Promotion and Place, marketing mixes (is your product a problem child or a cash cow? Or even a star or a dog?) and marketing strategies – basically as the title would suggest, anything to do with marketing. Accounting and Finance Lots of ratios to learn here – like Return On Capital Employed and profit margins. We also did the concepts of supply and demand (and drew a ton of diagrams) and learnt about cost allocations – centres can be people, rooms, departments or branches for example. And, we learnt about different methods of pricing – add on pricing, or certain % profit pricing and so on. External Influences This included looking outside the business to the wider world. We had to study environmental implications of actions, and legal requirements. We learnt about the Euro (we were the 1st year who studied it) and about the problems and bonuses of trading internationally, not just financially but also socially. Human Resources We all know the staff are a company’s most important and valuable assets, and in this module we had to study everything from pay rates
and styles and bonus schemes to methods of recruitment. Most of the exams involved case studies of some sort – reading a paragraph or 2 about a company and then explaining why said firm had the problems it did, or why they flourished so well. There was a final paper which included all the topics we’d looked at over the past two years so although it was modular, we weren’t allowed to forget things. We also did essay exams which you could pass with very little knowledge if you could write well enough (which most of the boys couldn’t......) I enjoyed this subject, and the lessons themselves were fun (not just the free chocolate we got when we went to the chocolate factory all in the name of, ahem, education). Although business is too wide a topic to study in depth in only 2 years, we touched on a lot of different areas briefly which gave us an overview as to the subject as a whole. It’s a good subject to study as it’s nice and general – although some of the class went on to study business or accounting at uni, most of us didn’t, but having done it still helps us with our different course choices. Being able to show an understanding of business, no matter how basic this understanding maybe, is a vital skill to have in many jobs, and is valued by employers. La la la. Finished now me thinks. Would have given you more detailed if I could remember it – well it was over a year ago, and my memory is fading in my old age. Not going to get a crown I don’t doubt, but thanks for reading it anyway.
If you havent started to do your A-levels yet, and you are thinking of doing business studies, then read this opinion! I have been doing this subject for a year now; and I am thinking of stopping it there (so only having an AS-level in B.Studies) This is because of the teachers - not the subject! The subject is full of useful, and interesting topics. Ranging from government incentives, to the way a car is made on a production line! Every aspect of the way a business is run, is included in this subject! I'd imagine that this subject is quite easy if the teachers are good! Mine aren't, and so I have found it quite hard! But if you just look through the syllabus, then you realise that it is quite easy! I did it for GCSE aswell, so I had a bit of background knowledge! But this is not nessecary to do this course, as that you need to know is taught! Try this subject - it is quite a good choice, as it is a varied subject, and goes well with many other A-levels (such as Law, Sociology, Politics, ICT/Computing!)