The MBA in Retailing is offered by the Institute for Retail Studies (IRS), based in the Stirling Management School's Marketing and Retail Division. The IRS has an international reputation for teaching, research and consultancy in retailing and the distributive trades.
The MBA places emphasis upon individual coaching and is unique in catering specifically for the retail sector. Its modular design results in each subject being studied separately.
It is a high-quality course offering a unique combination of core management skills and retail-specific specialisms.
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This course was developed to meet the needs of retail managers and others servicing the retail industry.
It provides you with industry-focused study for your MBA whilst maintaining your career and applying your learning within the business. The course has the following objectives:
- To demonstrate a thorough understanding of the industry and associated businesses
- To encourage individuals to use their skills more effectively in areas such as strategy, human resource management and marketing
- To apply current management techniques
- To develop responses to cope with market turbulence
- To analyse problems and develop solutions on an industry-wide basis
A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
While at least two years’ work experience in the retail sector is normally required, candidates with less but who have an outstanding academic record may be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis.
Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can not accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.
Our range of pre-sessional courses.
Modes of study
The MBA in Retailing by distance learning takes a minimum of two years to complete but there is flexibility for the course to be taken over a longer period.
Most students complete the full MBA but you can exit after four modules with a Postgraduate Certificate in Retailing, and after eight modules with a Postgraduate Diploma in Retailing. These qualifications are internationally recognised and can be accredited towards further later study on the MBA. Some students may enter the course at Certificate-level or with accredited modules through tailored corporate or individual management programmes run by the Stirling Management School or other institutions.
Course start date
Structure and content
The course comprises eight modules of study plus a dissertation. Modules include:
- Managing the Strategic Environment: Examines the role of senior management in setting the direction of an organisation. It offers the opportunity to examine the strategic issues and problems confronting companies in the retail sector
- Retail Management Context: Examines the principles of retailing in terms of their function within the distribution channel
- Managing Finance: Provides a foundation knowledge and understanding of the principles of accounting by examining published accounting information from a user’s perspective and provides an introduction to corporate finance by examining the major issues involved in making corporate investment and financing decisions.
- Retail Marketing: Defines the role of marketing within retail organisations. It emphasises the need to integrate marketing policy with business strategy
- Managing People: Examines the context of Human Resource Management (HRM) decision-making in terms of the employment structure in retailing and outlines processes and techniques required by managers for the effective management of the workforce
- Managing the Supply Chain: Examines the importance of supply chain management to retail businesses before explaining how merchandise decisions within retail organisations are made at both strategic and operational levels
- Managing Change: Enables students to understand, plan and achieve organisational change successfully. Examines the main models of, and approaches to, organisational change; the main issues involved in planning and implementing organisational change and how to change their own and other people’s behaviour.
- International Retailing: Provides an understanding of the process management of international retailing by analysing the companies involved as well as reviewing major retail areas of the world in search of the effects of internationalisation
After completion of the taught modules, you will undertake a dissertation (circa 15,000 words) which is an applied and/or academic piece of research into a specific business or retail topic of your choice.
Students may choose a topic which is relevant to their employer as well as interest to themselves. It is an opportunity to develop analytical skills that are essential in the fast changing retail sector.
View full module descriptions
Delivery and assessment
Over a period of two years students will study from home and will also attend any required examinations at Stirling or if available a local British Council abroad. The academic year for the course is split into three teaching semesters, during each of which students will study two modules.
The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.
MBA in Retailing (by distance learning)
|May - Sept
||Managing the Strategic Environment Level 11 - 10 credits
||Retail Management Context Level 11 - 20 credits
|Sept - Jan
||Managing People Level 11 - 10 credits
||Managing the Supply Chain 11 - 20 credits
|Jan - May
||Managing Finance Level 11 - 10 credits
||Retail MarketingLevel 11 - 20 credits
|May - Sept
||Managing Change Level 11 - 10 credits
||International Retailing Level 11 - 20 credits
|Sept - May
||Dissertation Level 11 - 60 credits
The MBA course involves each student completing twelve modules (including the dissertation which is the equivalent of four modules) which are typically covered within a two-year period. Each academic year the course is split into three teaching semesters, during each of which students will study two modules.
Why study MBA in Retailing (by distance learning) at Stirling?
The School is committed to a research-led approach in all of its activities. This was recognised in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which rated 85 percent of our research activity to be of ‘International Significance’. Retail research at Stirling was acknowledged as ‘World-leading’.
What our graduates say about the MBA in Retailing
The MBA in Retailing has deepened my understanding of the industry and at the same time given me the skills and knowledge to approach the sector in positive ways, especially in these times of challenge. The team at Stirling, the materials and the professional network that the MBA has allowed me to build, have proved invaluable both through my studies and beyond.
Matthew Baptist, Tesco Extra, Stirling 2011 MBA Retailing Graduate
You cannot find a better course if you are interested in retail management. If you are an experienced professional of any retail provenance this intense course allows you to focus on your academic interest without interrupting your present occupation. It’s presented by a great faculty, provides the opportunity for personal growth and may kick-start relations to peers all over the industry.
Jens Peter Labus, Media Saturn IT Services, Stirling 2011 MBA Retailing Graduate 2011
I have been working in grocery retail for the past eight years and in order to develop my skills I thought the MBA in Retailing would help me. It is the only MBA that I know of, that has a focus exclusively on retail so that was a big selling point for me. Within my work it’s allowed me to get greater visibility and develop a lot of connections with other people within the business. Also, through people that are studying on the MBA with me, it’s allowed me to get an insight into how other people work within retail.
Des O’Mahony, Musgrave Retail Partners, Ireland, Stirling 2010 MBA Retailing Graduate
I chose the MBA specifically because it focussed on retail. I did an undergraduate degree in retail and having such a passion for the business I wanted to carry it on.
Gervase Fay, formerly Sainsbury & Superdrug, Stirling 2010 MBA Retailing Graduate
My background was mainly in marketing when I joined UK optical retailers, Specsavers. I was looking for an MBA that could get me up-to-speed with the latest retail thinking, but also help me to explore retail internationalisation - my main role at Specsavers. The Stirling MBA was ideal. It facilitated a broad understanding of the retail world and it was flexible, so I could adapt the assignments to tasks I was actually working on in my Specsavers role. It was hard work, but I learned a lot, I don't regret a minute of it - and would thoroughly recommend it.
Monty McMonagle, Specsavers, Stirling 2001 MBA Retailing Graduate
Institute for Retail Studies
The Institute for Retail Studies at the University of Stirling was established in 1983 to act as a focus for the academic and applied study of the retail industry. It is now one of Europe’s largest University based retail institutes and has developed a reputation for offering a range of high quality education and training programmes to the retail sector as well as undertaking research of an international standard.
The Institute (IRS) has for a number of years been recognised as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for its contribution to retail education and training.
All members of staff are high profile academics with excellent international reputations. Our teaching is based on our research activities; our own research and research publications (books and journal articles) are used in our modules. Staff have the highest academic qualifications (PHD) and hold senior positions at the University of Stirling.
For more information on our staff, their research and teaching please visit the Marketing & Retail Division.
The MBA in Retailing by distance learning course is aimed at experienced managers working in retailing and related trades, and serves to enhance prospects of promotion within their existing employer or improve opportunities of moving within the retail sector.
The retail industry is dynamic, continually responding to changing consumer spending whilst operating within a fast-moving, highly competitive global market. As a result, it is an industry where the need for professional and well trained managers has never been greater.
The internationally recognised MBA in Retailing by distance learning was created in collaboration with the retail industry and is designed to offer a postgraduate qualification to those individuals employed within the sector who are unable to study full time. Planned specially to fit into participants’ demanding work schedules, the course allows students to gain a professional qualification within two years.
Eric Calderwood, Course Director, MBA in Retailing by distance learning
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
Tuition Fees for programmes of study starting in 2016/7 have not yet been set please check back here in December 2014.
Students can finance their MBA in the following ways:
Self-funding – where the student pays for all costs themselves. There are a number of options available including payment by instalments.
Fully-sponsored – where the student’s organisation pays for all the costs. This can be linked to a ‘golden handcuffs’ arrangement where the student agrees to remain with an organisation for a certain length of time after gaining their MBA or pays back a percentage of the fees if they leave within the set period.
Part-sponsored – where the student and sponsor (employer) agree on a shared contribution. This can be done in many ways and we would be delighted to talk this option through with students and/or employers.