Retail Management

Study a Master of Science in Retail Management and graduate with a university degree

Postgraduate Diploma, MSc, Postgraduate Certificate

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Retail Management
  • Type Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration One year
  • Start date September

Lynne McCulloch
Postgraduate Secretary
Stirling Management School
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467381

This MSc reflects the growing demand for retail professionals who have the intellectual and practical abilities necessary to cope with the pace of change in this dynamic, global industry. You will learn how to take general management skills and apply them to a range of retail-specific issues such as developments in the supply chain, the role of buying and merchandising in the retail sector, retail marketing and retail strategy. These are all set into the context of the change to digital marketing and the pressures that come from multi-channel retailing. Ultimately, retailing is still a people business and you will learn to understand and relate to your customers and to your staff in order to improve the business.

Course objectives

The overall aim of the course is to provide you with a high level of knowledge and understanding of the concepts and processes involved in retailing. It will equip you with the practical, research and analytical skills necessary for a professional management career in the retail trade or an allied sector. The objectives of the MSc in Retail Management are:

  • To develop knowledge and understanding of contemporary retail management issues at the strategic level
  • To describe and analyse the way retailing works, specifically the key activities and relationships
  • To provide an academic underpinning to the above through the application of retailing theory and research

Entrance requirements

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.

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

MSc: One year
Diploma: Nine months

Course start date


Structure and content

Preparing and supporting students through their postgraduate studies

September 2014 will see the introduction of an intensive and invigorating period of ‘learning to learn’ for Stirling Management School’s postgraduate students. Activities, workshops and information sessions held during this period will help students better prepare for the year ahead in order to ensure that they make the most of their time at Stirling. Students will be provided with an opportunity to develop the necessary skills required to ensure that they can interact and engage with others and fully explore the subjects and themes covered by their course.

Providing students with the very best start to their studies, these activities will support students to:

  • discover more about the exciting period of learning ahead;
  • develop an understanding of the course expectations;
  • get to know the teaching team and support staff;
  • learn more about a diverse range of approaches to learning;
  • understand what it takes to work as part of a successful team;
  • develop presentation skills and build confidence in public speaking;
  • learn about cultural and individual differences;
  • discover all that the University campus and the vibrant city of Stirling has to offer;
  • maximise their time studying at Stirling;
  • have fun and make new friends.

By the end of this period, students will be fully prepared to embark upon the formal teaching course invigorated and committed to the journey ahead with newly developed skills.

The course

The course consists of eight modules taught over two semesters (Autumn/Spring), plus a piece of original research which is undertaken over the summer period. As well as classroom studies, the taught modules include guest lectures from industry speakers and site visits to retail facilities.

In Semester 1, you will study:

  • Professional Skills: Emphasises the importance of individual and team skills in bringing about market-led strategic change in organisations. The module includes a team-building weekend which introduces the Personal Development Planning framework used in both autumn and spring semesters
  • Retail Strategy: Assesses the role of senior management in setting the direction of an organisation and examines how they confront strategic issues. The module helps you to understand the decision-making process, the need to develop a corporate strategy and to specify the key success factors for a retail company
  • Reflective Practice and Learning: Focuses on forming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to retailing and retail management
  • Retail Marketing: Investigates the nature of the retail ‘product’, segmentation and positioning, consumer behaviour and retailing, marketing communication in a retail context, retail branding, store formats and customer service

In Semester 2, you will study:

  • Retail Management Applications: Entails conducting a ‘live’ piece of research/consultancy for a real client either in, or with links to the retailing industry. Recent client organisations have included British Council of Shopping Centres, Playtex International, Texstyle World and the Thistle Shopping Centre, Stirling
  • Critical Thinking: Sets out to develop the critical thinking, analysis and presentation skills of students. The module encourages systematic critical evaluation of material, its assimilation, interpretation and presentation in various forms. Such skills have academic and applied relevance
  • Retail Buying and Merchandising: Covers both strategic and operational decisions of retail product management. It explains the context of buying and merchandising operations, the issues facing retail buyers in different types of retail organisation, the activities of retail buyers and their interaction with other functional areas
  • Logistics and Channel Management: Focuses on logistics, channel relationships and the supply chain. The module relates logistics to the economy and to business and develops an understanding of supply chain management in the retail context

Over the summer period, students can choose to complete either an individual or group Knowledge Management Project. The choice will normally depend upon either the scope of the topic being studied or whether the student is intending to continue on to further academic study. Recent topics have included 'Body Image, Esteem and Fashion', 'Showrooming: Using Mobile Devices In-Store' and 'SME Retailers in China'. Students must also complete a reflective journal which describes their approach to their project and what they have learned from their studies.

View full module descriptions

Delivery and assessment

The taught modules of the MSc course are delivered using a variety of methods e.g. lectures, tutorials, case studies, role playing, fieldwork exercises, guest speakers and company projects. Each module is assessed separately under our system of credit accumulation. Assessment methods may include research reports, essays, briefings, management reports, case analyses and presentations. Assessed work is often conducted in groups, as developing teamwork and communication skills are seen as important for careers in the retail industry.

All lecturing staff on the course are high profile academics with excellent international reputations and often with strong links to retail companies. Our teaching is based on our research activities; our own research and research publications (books and journal articles) are used in our modules. Staff members have the highest academic qualifications (PhD) and hold senior positions at the University of Stirling. Meet the Staff.

Recommended reading

Detailed below are some recommended readings if you wish to do some reading before the course starts.

A good way to start!
Dawson, John, Findlay, Anne and Sparks, Leigh (2008): The Retailing Reader. Routledge: London. [ISBN-13: 978-0415356398]

Fancy a deeper insight?
Berman, Barry and Evans, Joel R. (2010): Retail Management. A Strategic Approach. Pearson: Boston. [ISBN-13: 978-0132465502]
Fernie, John and Sparks, Leigh (2009): Logistics and Retail Management. Kogan Page: London. [ISBN-13: 978-0749454074]

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
0900-1000 Core Module        
1000-1100       Core Module  
1300-1400   Core Lecture   Core Lecture  
1400-1500 Core Lecture Core Lecture      

Why study Retail Management at Stirling?

Course Director

Dr Keri Davies

RAE rating

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’.


Students from the MSc Marketing course participate in two training events aimed at building professional skills in marketing: the first focuses on team-building and leadership; the second on personal effectiveness. The Stirling MSc was the first in Scotland to integrate such professional inputs into the learning environment; and recently it was the first to introduce training in personal effectiveness in working relationships into the course.

Working with our team of consultants, students receive their own Insights Discovery personal profile which offers an engaging, reinforcing and transformational insight into themselves and others. Based on the model of personality developed by Carl Jung, the Insights Discovery profile offers our students a framework for self-understanding and personal development. Profiles help the individual learn about their approach to decision-making; their key strengths and weaknesses in working relationships; their value to the team, as well as their communication style and possible blind spots.

This memorable, fun and fascinating day allows our students to explore adapting and connecting techniques. In addition they learn about areas for self-development and career planning, as well as how to be a more effective communicator and team member in a professional business environment.

MSc Marketing students completing Insights Discovery profile

Our students

Our students arrive at Stirling bringing with them a wide-variety of academic, employment and cultural backgrounds. Our approach allows for students to achieve their objectives – whether it be to pursue a career in marketing or to further their education through PhD programmes – we meet the needs of our students while offering a memorable and valuable experience. For example, the 2013/14 PTES student survey results provides evidence of our student’s satisfaction:
  • 96% of our students rated the teaching quality of the course to be excellent.
  • 89% were satisfied with the learning materials made available.
  • 87% became more confident in their independent learning skills.
  • 88% believe the course has made them present themselves with more confidence (this could be spun to be a more confident to future employers, the outside clients, the teaching staff etc).
Here is what our previous students have said:
During studying in this programme, we did various course work such as management report, reflective paper, and observation research report. All of them are not easy but useful for our career in academia or business environment.  In fact, I had a great time at each lecture and I felt that I could develop myself by finishing each course work. In future, I would like to be a business consultant specialising in retail industry. This major gives me professional skills to do research and special knowledge about retailers’ management techniques. Therefore, I believe I could realise my dream after gaining this degree. If you are interested in working in retail industry, I will strongly recommend you attend this course.

Yoshiaki Tsuji (2012-13)

Retailing is a fresh area and a promising subject. After completing the MSc course, I had learned some fundamental knowledge as well as some current issues. The Professors at Stirling were very helpful and patient.

Ziwei Wang (2009-2010)

I gained tremendous experience of the different points of views on European retailing. The modules taught on the course enhance my knowledge of retailing following my degree in Retail Management previously at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia. I would strongly recommend to anyone who wishes to pursue their education in Retail Management to attend the course at University of Stirling as it is the BEST.

Nurul Zamratul (2009-2010)

I am currently working for Louis Vuitton, Indian Private limited. The MSc in Retail Management from the University of Stirling is definitely a programme to opt for. The hospitality of the University staff and the humble but thorough approach of the School leave an indelible experience. It has indeed left me memories, just as one would have of its home.

Vikram Goil (2007-2008)

Within a week of graduating I became the Customer Relations Executive of an online retailer which sells electronic goods. My experience in Stirling not only helped me indulge in the job from day one, but has also helped me analyse the position of the company and since introduce new money saving techniques for the company. All the lectures in Stirling were very thought provoking and my research is currently helping in the first steps to starting my own business in the global procurement and logistics field. The University is just superb.

Rejeev Nair (2007-2008)

I found the MSc in Retail Management course very useful training for my current role, Supply Chain Developer in Marks and Spencer. It provided me with an overview of the various elements within the UK retail sector. Taking part in projects, presentations and team work not only enhanced my skills but also taught me about time-management. I would recommend this course to anyone looking for a Head Office career within retail.

Paula Glbert-Haworth (1999-2000)


Our staff

About Stirling’s MSc Retail Management Course

About us – The Institute for Retail Studies

This MSc is operated by The Institute for Retail Studies at the University of Stirling. The Institute 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 has for a number of years been recognised as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for its contribution to retail education and training. The reputation of the Institute was further enhanced in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) where retail research at Stirling was described as ‘World Leading’.

Knowledge and skills: The course modules cover contemporary issues in the field of retailing – marketing, strategy, internationalisation, branding and logistics. Students experience an exciting dialogue between retail theory, research and practice, thus enhancing employability. Our programme sharpens students’ team working and critical thinking skills. Presentations from high calibre practitioners and site visits complement theoretical content.

Lecturing staff: 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. Meet the Staff for the Institute for Retail Studies.

International expertise: The MSc in Retail Management is a truly international course – in every respect. The members of staff are from different European and non-European countries. Our course runs in various countries around the globe, e.g. our Institute operates an Undergraduate Retail Degree Course in Singapore and our Executive Retail MBA by distance learning course has drawn students from more than 35 countries. Last but not least, we research retailers and retail change in international contexts and we use our research in our teaching.

Download our MSc Retail Management brochure.

Career opportunities

Graduates of the MSc Retail Management course have gained employment in large and small retail organisations, both in the UK and overseas, and in other retail-related sectors. Examples of companies who have recruited recent graduates include Marks and Spencer, B&Q, Louis Vuitton, Thorntons and Canon. Many graduates return to their countries of origin to work and we have alumni in Greece, Norway, Germany, Taiwan and India, amongst other fast-developing retail markets.

Several former MSc Retail Management students have taken further degree courses, including PhDs: two have recently completed doctorates with a retail theme, having continued their studies at Stirling, after completing the MSc.

The retail industry is a great place to work and provides managers with a wide range of challenges. The MSc addresses the specialised needs of the retail industry and it delivers a ready pool of skilled, competent and trained professionals. The course is suitable for recent graduates who want a career in retail management or for those who already have some retail experience and wish to deepen their understanding of the development of the industry.

Dr Keri Davies, Course Director




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.


Stirling Management School is committed to investing in academically talented students, enabling them to further their education with a reputable qualification from one of the many degree courses on offer at the University of Stirling. There are various categories of funding available to support the cost of your studies at the University of Stirling.

Further details can be viewed at:

Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

This course is currently approved for PTFL (Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan) funding from SAAS. More information