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The Student Insider

Beyond the bottom line: marketing in a global context


Written by
Allie Fitzgibbon

According to the UN’s latest projections, the global population could grow to around 9.7 billion in 2050. Massive over-consumption in some parts of the world means that to sustain current lifestyles we would need almost three planets to provide enough natural resources.

Marketing professionals discussing a design brief

But in a global economy in which customers can ask Alexa to buy almost anything and expect same day delivery, how can marketeers meet consumer demand ethically and sustainably? And with commodity prices surging and an unpredictable political landscape, what lessons can we learn from the past to meet the challenges of the future? Dr Paul Dudley explained how the innovative BSc Marketing aims to answer these questions and more.

The University of London, in partnership with member institution, Royal Holloway, and online learning platform, Coursera, has developed an exciting BSc in Marketing. The degree-level programme is available to study entirely online, from almost anywhere in the world. But if you’re expecting simply to learn the basics of brand management, product pricing and Google ads, think again.

Exploring the history of organisations and the world around us helps us to see how things may play out in the future.

Dr Paul Dudley is Director of Distance Learning in the School of Business and Management for Royal Holloway and Programme Director for the Coursera BSc Marketing. He explained how the programme supports students to consider marketing within a broad, interdisciplinary context.

“At Royal Holloway, we take a sociological and political perspective to business and management. That’s really a USP for Royal Holloway and I think this gives our students an important extra insight. Yes, we will give you the fundamentals of what you need to be successful in a career in marketing, but we will also extend beyond that to advance your understanding of key contemporary issues.

“So while the programme considers important topics facing the marketing industry at present, such as our throw-away culture and the ‘always-on’ world, we’ll also understand the broader context in which organisations, institutions and other actors interact. Exploring the historical dimension to the world around us helps us to see how things may play out in the future.”

As we emerge from two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy is now being hugely impacted by inflation pressures, rising commodity costs and blockages in the supply chain, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Covid-19 had a huge impact on marketing. Add to that the rising cost of commodities and supply chain bottlenecks and you have a lot of unpredictable factors at play now.

Dr Dudley explained how marketeers can learn lessons from the past in order to navigate a volatile business environment.

“Covid-19 had a huge impact on marketing. Business-to-consumer (B2C) habits have changed drastically and with the rising cost of living and global inflation, those consumer habits are likely to continue to change. Add to that the rising cost of commodities and supply chain bottlenecks and you have a lot of unpredictable factors at play now."

“We’ve seen good examples of these factors coming together, such as with computer chips for cars. The World Trade Organisation states that just under 50% of all goods are intermediate, meaning they have to be finished somewhere else. So if there’s a bottleneck and you run out of, for example, the computer chips you need to build your cars then you essentially stop the production process."

“There are very interesting parallels between the challenges we face today and the landscape of the 1970s, where we saw the conflict between Israel and Egypt, the oil price shock of 1973 and the rapid growth of third world debt. Seeing these current issues in an historical context therefore helps us to make sense of them.”

The programme is also aimed at those who want to gain a broader business perspective.

With modules including ‘Interpreting management, market and consumption’, ‘Market research and digital consumer culture’ and ‘Brands, branding and advertising’, the programme covers the fundamentals of marketing. But Dr Dudley believes the BSc also gives students the broad business acumen they need for long-term career success.

“Our aim was to make this programme as inclusive as possible,” Dr Dudley explained. “It is suitable for those in the private sector and those in the public sector - it covers the fundamentals of the subject, including all the different activities of marketing, from branding and social media to e-commerce and advertising."

“But the programme is also aimed at those who want to gain a broader business perspective while developing their specialism in marketing. By studying the subject from multiple vantage points, which is really a strength of Royal Holloway, you will have a strong generalist background and develop a skillset that is transferable to other functions, which is so important in the modern business world.”

The BSc Marketing was the second degree-level programme to launch in partnership with Coursera, following the huge success of the BSc Computer Science, which began in 2019. Dr Dudley explained why the relationship works so well.

“It really has been a three-way partnership between University of London, Royal Holloway and Coursera and what’s been great is we’re all working together for a common cause. We’re all passionate about helping people achieve their life goals. We’re all incredibly enthusiastic about what we do and it works really well.”

Find out how you can make your mark in an exciting future career with the University of London’s BSc Marketing.