A Level Business Studies is a long established A Level and one which has seen a great deal of success in recent years. This is not just a subject for those who have taken the subject at GCSE, as it is developed for all students, although it is advisable to consider advice if selecting between A Level and the Subsidiary Diploma.
Business Studies examines businesses and how they operate within the current environment, as well as developing strategies to cope with changes in the future. To be able to do this successfully, candidates will study how businesses carry out various functions; marketing, finance, production, HR and where there is opportunity for improvement. The course also looks at how external influences such as changes in interest rates and exchange rates affect business and, in turn, how businesses might react to these changes. You will evaluate business behaviour from a variety of perspectives using an investigative, problem solving and integrated approach.
We plan to operate the WJEC A Level course which includes three exam components, to be taken at the end of Year 13. However, there will also be examinations at the end of Year 12 for an AS qualification, that will not contribute to the final A level grade. The topics covered include Marketing, Finance, Strategy, and Management. In Year 12, we begin the course covering basic concepts which will enable students to understand the broad principles of business and, later in the course, we will develop the basic knowledge gained in Year 12 and use analytical and evaluative skills when developing strategies.
The units covered are:
Component 1: Business Opportunities and Functions (35% – 135 minute exam at the end of Year 13).
Collectively, this component focuses on the structure of business and their functions. The two areas covered in this component will give learners an understanding of the important role played by small businesses in the economy and the opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs, as well as the importance of established businesses and not-for-profit organisations in providing goods and services.
The questions in this exam will be based around responding to numerical data and having to complete short, structured questions.
Component 2: Business Analysis and Strategy (30% – 120 minute exam at the end of Year 13).
This component builds on the theory introduced in Component 1. As the title suggests, the emphasis in this component is on understanding and using analytical techniques and developing appropriate business strategies. Candidates need to understand, construct and analyse a range of decision-making models and investment appraisal methods used by businesses to decide on their strategy.
Candidates need to develop analytical skills to investigate business opportunities and problems in a number of different contexts and evaluate a range of quantitative and qualitative data to suggest possible strategic responses from businesses. Candidates are required to answer questions based on numerical issues such as data analysis, market analysis, sales forecasting, analysing financial and non-financial performance, etc. Therefore, a sound numerical ability is required.
This exam has numerous materials provided to students to review before having to complete a range of short answer questions and longer evaluative questions.
Component 3: Business in a Changing World (35% – 150 minute exam at the end of Year 13)
This component focuses on how businesses adapt to succeed in a dynamic external environment, where the business world never stands still and there are continuous opportunities and threats to businesses of all sizes. Candidates will need to understand that regardless of size, businesses now operate in a global marketplace and they need to consider a wide range of external factors that affect their day-to-day activities, decision-making and strategy.
This exam has 3 sections which will integrate the knowledge, understanding and skills developed in all three components to display a holistic understanding of business activity and the environment in which they operate. This examination has numerous essay type questions based on specific scenarios given in the paper.
Business Studies requires students to have achieved 5 Grade B’s or above at GCSE, including GCSE English Language and Maths. The subject blends well with History, Economics and English, where the ability to develop planned written responses is essential. However, in this new course, data analysis will require good levels of mathematical skills as more emphasis is being placed on data interpretation.
The opportunities resulting from an A Level in Business Studies is that this is a popular route for many courses at university. This is well received with many universities. Finally, the skills used in this subject help students to develop analytical and evaluative skills in many other aspects of their learning, in other subjects at A Level and beyond.