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Making a difference: the management initiative

This module enables you to use and apply the learning gained on your MBA journey, to ‘make a difference’ in your workplace. You will work on a project-like initiative which will require you to engage with the theories you have learned and to collect evidence to support your thinking. Through this you will explore the extent to which theory can be applied in practice by applying academic ideas to a work-based issue. You will also have an opportunity to reflect how your MBA study has changed you as a manager and practitioner.

Vocational relevance

The module recognises the strong emphasis placed by students and their employers on the value of effective practical application of module-based learning. B839 has been designed to meet these requirements. A key aspect of this is in developing and demonstrating a capability for critical and self-directed learning and a capability to apply masters-level learning integrative to real-world problems and opportunities.

It is anticipated that the content of this module, especially the requirement to undertake and report on an evidence-based initiative will make a significant contribution to a submission for accreditation by a professional body or to a portfolio for assessment. Some of your B839 work could be also used in the evidence required for a level 5 NVQ (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) although we are not currently planning to provide a VQ Pathways Guide).


B839 is a compulsory module in our:


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This 30-credit module is the final compulsory component of your MBA. The high-level learning aims of the module include: to enable you to demonstrate the skills to make a real difference to organisational performance as a manager/leader. During this time, you continue to build on and demonstrate a capability for critical and self-directed learning; and to develop and demonstrate the capability to apply other masters-level theoretical and practical learning to the problems and opportunities in your own management practice.

The teaching, learning and assessment is organised explicitly on developmental lines, with a clear focus on implementing your knowledge in management. During the module you will critically reflect on your own experience, practice and context and what you have learned during your MBA. You will write a formal proposal for your management initiative and will be responsible for a largely self-directed and independently managed programme of work and study, based on a specific initiative in your own organisational context.

You will be provided with guidance on how to choose, plan and undertake your initiative and resources will be available for you to draw on in order to work through the different phases and dimensions of your initiative. During the module, you will need to draw on theory from a range of areas, along with gathering and using appropriate evidence to support your work and learning. You will be given clear guidance on how to draw up, for assessment purposes, a proposal and plan for your initiative and a report on its progress and outcomes.

There is a compulsory residential school, which is a great opportunity to meet with other students and engage in professional discussions. During the residential school, you will present your ideas and gain valuable feedback from tutors and other delegates. This complements the individual and group support you receive from your tutor, web-based resources, online and face-to-face tuition and collaboration. Throughout the module you will be expected to monitor your own learning and development; reflection on your work and how it influences your practice is an important part of the learning and assessment throughout the module.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you work through the study programme and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You can contact your tutor by telephone, mail or via your tutor group forum on the B839 website.

We will offer a blended approach to tuition which will be both online and face-to-face and you are strongly encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where face-to-face day schools are held depends on the distribution of students taking each module. The B839 website enables you to have online interaction with your tutor and other students.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Given that much of B839 is self-directed, the assignments are the key milestones around which you organise your work on the module. The assessment timetable will support a degree of flexibility on your part, enabling you to make some adjustment to your workload to suit your own study pattern, and the specific demands of your own initiative. This may involve doing the majority of the work in the earlier or later stages of the module. You will be required in the first two assignments to set out your plans for organising your time across the whole module.

Residential School

This module includes a compulsory residential school. An online alternative is available. 

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
Embedded residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Making a difference: the management initiative starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2020. A replacement module is planned for November 2020. 


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    You must have studied the Stage 2 module The dynamics of strategy (BB835) before taking this module. The module requires 300 hours of study over 12 months. This is a compulsory module of Stage 2 of the MBA (Master of Business Administration) (F61) and will be the final module that you study. Please see MBA (Master of Business Administration) (F61) for full details of the entry requirements for this qualification. 

    BB835 is not compulsory for the MBA (Technology Management) (F69).

    If you have any questions about the best time to start B839, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    02 Nov 2019 Oct 2020 £2985.00

    Registration closes 17/10/19 (places subject to availability)

    02 May 2020 Apr 2021 £2985.00

    Registration closes 16/04/20 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2020.

    Future availability

    Making a difference: the management initiative starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2020. A replacement module is planned for November 2020. 

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Residential school

    This module includes one or more compulsory residential schools. You must pay for your travel to and from the venue. If you can't attend the residential school, an online alternative is available.

    Study materials

    What's included

    Online study units and other web-based materials, including the B839 website, the study guide, online discussion forums. In addition, you have podcasts, interviews, extensive electronic journal articles and access to the full electronic resources of the OU library.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    Elements of this module are delivered online and include the use of real-time online discussions and an interactive whiteboard space; consequently time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you should contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.