MBA in Retailing (by distance learning)

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MBA


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.

Key information

  • Degree type: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MBA
  • Study methods: Part-time, Distance learning
  • Duration: Two years
  • Start date: May
  • Course Director: Eric Calderwood

Melanie McLeod Course Administrator
MBA in Retailing (by distance learning)
Centre for Advanced Management Education
Stirling Management School
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK
+44 (0) 1786 467407

View fees and finance

Course objectives

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

What makes us different?

Developing Leaders of the Future

Our postgraduate education goes beyond textbooks and lecture rooms by also focussing on personal and professional development.

Our unique Flying Start leadership programme equips students with the transferrable skills essential to building a successful career.

Flying Start - students carrying out a team-building exercise.

Business Engagement

The University of Stirling Management School equips students to flourish as effective managers in the workplace through enhanced self-awareness, critical thinking, leadership and team-working skills.

Find out more about business engagement

Business Engagement


At the University of Stirling Management School, we are committed to ensuring that every single one of our students realise their potential.

The graduate job market has never been more competitive, and greater focus is now being placed on finding graduates who can demonstrate a wide array of skills, competences and experiences.

Find out more about employability

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World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

While at least three 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.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Structure and teaching

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.


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.

Study method

Part-time; distance learning

Example timetable

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 Retail Marketing 11 - 20 credits
Jan - May Managing Finance Level 11 - 10 credits Managing the Supply Chain Level 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 Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

The reputation of our research at Stirling Management School was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), where the School was placed in the UK’s top 25 institutions for Business and Management, out of 101 business schools.  In Scotland, the School was ranked in the top five.  64% of our research outputs were classified as world-leading and internationally excellent in terms of their originality, significance and rigour and we were ranked 14th in the UK in terms of research impact with over 60% of our research impact judged to have outstanding reach and wide-ranging impact on the policies of public, private and governmental organisations.

Our students

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

When I left Stirling I wanted to restructure my business because the retail industry in Singapore was changing rapidly. With international players coming into the market, competition was getting tougher and I felt the need to look into new avenues of growth for my business.

Studying the MBA in Retailing and Wholesaling gave me a wider perspective on global retail dynamics. It also enhanced my analytical and problem solving skills which has enabled me to formulate more effective business plans and proposals.

Meeting my classmates was one of the best aspects of my experience at Stirling and we all bonded straight away because we shared a common interest. Those relationships are not just personal friendships though; since graduating, many of us have formed beneficial business relationships too so the MBA was an invaluable networking opportunity.

My advice for new Stirling graduates would be, first and foremost, to follow your passion. When you’re doing something you love, work won’t be just a job to you – it will be something more satisfying. If you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, try out various internships until you find your way. Also, you should never be afraid of failure – sometimes failure is the best way to bring out the skills and capabilities you never knew you had.

If I were to meet the 18-year-old version of myself, I would tell her ’follow your passion, take each step one at a time and work hard, because there’s no substitute for hard work and discipline’.”

Beng Yan Wee, Managing Director,Tyan Fashion Group, Stirling 2000 MBA Retailing Graduate

Our staff

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.

Our Teaching

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.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

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


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Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).



2016/17 Overseas   £14,950
2016/17 Home/EU   £13,250
2015/16 Overseas   £14,250
2015/16 Home/EU   £13,250

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.

Scholarships & funding

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.

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