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Supply chain management

Supply chain networks are recognised as the organisational form that assures business sustainability through supply continuity. Supply chain management is a fundamental skill in today’s competitive business environment, and organisations that excel in this function see the benefit in their performance. This module will provide you with an in-depth insight into supply chain theory, design and best practice, taking into account issues such as ethics, sustainability and risk management. This will enable you to question and reflect upon your own organisation and its role in the supply chain. 


BB849 is an optional module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


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 module is delivered online, and is designed for those who want a sound knowledge of and insight into supply chain management, and will appeal to both Supply Chain professionals and managers in other professions.

This module will provide you with an in-depth insight into the theory, problems, solutions, and best practice in the area of supply chain management.  It will provide you with opportunities to question and reflect upon your own organisation and its role in the wider supply chain.  It will also help you to develop your ability to identify opportunities for improvement of product design, manufacturing processors, sourcing strategies, and market development.

Unit 1 provides you with an introduction to supply chain management, followed by Unit 2, on structure and performance of supply chains, and Unit 3 which gives an insight into supply chain design.  In Unit 4 you will participate in a practical simulation of managing a typical, but simplified, supply chain and learn from the challenges you encounter in attempting to address the problems generated by supply chain dynamics.  This work will be assessed through a reflective tutor-marked assessment (TMA) that will encourage you to relate your knowledge and experience to theory and identify the challenges of implementing best practice.   The subsequent units, leading up to the end of module assessment (EMA), cover supply chain relations, sustainability, risks, and supply chain costs and financial issues.  The final unit you will study in more depth the supply chains within three specific areas including the public sector, the mining sector and automotive sector.

The module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the nature of supply chain management, and the approaches to addressing the relevant business decisions in this area.
  • develop critical understanding Supply chain management theories, including supply chain dynamics, supply chain risk management, and supplier relationship management
  • develop critical understanding of the impact of the external context on supply chain decision making, including internationalisation and globalisation, social and technological change, and government policies and regulation.
  • develop an understanding of the challenges of implementing supply chain solutions in context.

You will learn

On completion of the module you will:

  • understand what is meant by supply chain management and the activities involved in its effective practice
  • understand the concept of supply chain dynamics, be aware of the potential solutions to demand amplification and the difficulties of implementing effective solutions
  • be aware of the types of supply chain risk, their impact on supply chain effectiveness and organisation viability
  • conduct analysis of supply chains to identify strengths and weaknesses in their design and performance
  • demonstrate reflective and critical thinking by writing reports that investigate, analyse and critique supply chain practice.
  • understand the challenges of your own supply chain practices.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You will contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the BB849 website.

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


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

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

Course work includes

1 Tutor-marked assignment (TMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Supply chain management starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2020 and May 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2024.


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 will need to ensure that you have the knowledge and experience to study at postgraduate level. Please note that if you wish to study this module as part of a qualification you must meet the entry requirements for that qualification and any requirements regarding the order of study.

    The module requires 150 hours of study over six months.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    01 May 2021 Oct 2021 £1535.00

    Registration closes 15/04/21 (places subject to availability)

    06 Nov 2021 Apr 2022 Not yet available

    Registration closes 14/10/21 (places subject to availability)

    07 May 2022 Oct 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 01/09/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2024.

    Future availability

    Supply chain management starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2020 and May 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2024.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

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

    Study materials

    What's included

    An extensive variety of specially written resources presented in different media (print and online) and designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material, published articles, case-studies, a set of interactive tools to help you develop your management thinking abilities and access to The Open University 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 an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    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

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

    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 can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    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.