Business and Social Enterprise


This is a two year full-time, or four year part-time course which is the equivalent to the first two years of a university degree (240 credits). Students can then apply to Oxford Brookes University for entry into the final year (level 6) of their BA (Hons) Business and Management.

In the programme you will learn about the fundamentals of business and social enterprise, business ethics, marketing and the historical and contemporary issues in social enterprise. This will be alongside developing your critical skills and personal strengths.

The programme has been designed to further your knowledge of business and social enterprise and of good business management. Our main aim is to support your development towards a career in the area of Business and Social Enterprise. The programme has been developed in a way, which explores each of these two strands progressively, whilst maintaining a holistic view of business within various contexts.

The course is validated by Oxford Brookes University.

Regulations for Foundation Degree in Business and Social Enterprise

View the programme specifications here


The Business strand initially introduces you to the scope and functions of business and gradually develops your understanding of the internal environment in which businesses operate.

The Social Enterprise strand takes basic social enterprise concepts and theories to a contemporary and practical level and integrates organisational behavior aspects with management and decision making. Within the first year (for full-time students, first two years for part-time), you will be introduced to areas such as criticality and academic writing, in addition to developing a portfolio to support your professional development. You will also begin to explore the similarities and differences between social enterprise and commercial business management and practices.


Level 4 (Certificate of Higher Education year)


Critical Skills/Personal Development

This double module is designed to prepare students for undergraduate study, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to develop themselves professionally in preparation for their future careers. Initially, students are introduced to the fundamental academic skills of information sourcing and critical thinking. Students are helped to recognise the importance of developing reasoned argument based on evidence rather than opinion. They are also introduced to Harvard referencing techniques.

Students then explore their professional aspirations and current capabilities with a view to developing themselves in readiness for future employment opportunities. Students are therefore are able to develop a range of personal and professional skills in order to promote personal and career development.


Fundamentals of Business and Social Enterprise

This module is designed to introduce students to the main areas of business and social enterprise and ensure that there is a clear understanding of key terminology. The module helps look at the uniqueness of the business practice in social enterprises by comparing to business organisations in the private and public sector. This module also helps students later in the programme when evaluating their own career choices. Roles and relationships between key functions of business and social enterprise are examined. Whilst this module primarily focuses on the internal environment, external influences are introduced which prepares the group for the module Introduction in a Social Enterprise Context.


Introduction to Business in a Social Enterprise Context

This module is designed to introduce students to business organisations, business environments and how economic change affects businesses and social enterprise in particular. It introduces students to public and private sectors, profit and non-profit organisations and how changes in the national and global economic systems impact on businesses and social enterprises. This module enables students to identify the external environment in which social enterprises operate and contrast this with the environment faced by the commercial sector of the economy.


Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise

In this module we will look at the idea of business ethics and consider whether there is such a thing as an objective notion of ethics in business. We consider a range of questions such as whether social enterprises can all be called ‘ethical’, whether commercial enterprises can be described as genuinely ‘ethical’; whether CSR is a genuine attempt at engaging with the wider environment or ‘window dressing’ to appeal to increasingly environmental and socially aware customers. We look at the growth models of social enterprise and consider whether growth inevitably leads to compromise and dilution of the ‘ethical base’ on which the enterprise was founded.


Marketing and Social Enterprise

The module equips students with the models and techniques to develop a marketing orientation in order to improve the competitive position of a/their social enterprise. The module focuses strongly on the advantages of ethical branding and social and relationship marketing for social enterprise. The marketing approaches studied provide students with techniques and frameworks that can be applied to a social enterprise. This allows participants to develop distinctive brand and public relations plans for a social enterprise.


Understanding Financial Management of Social Enterprise

This module focuses on outlining how accounting can be used in a business and social enterprise context and considers sources of finance for small businesses and social enterprises and uses of finance. It is aimed at further supporting students’ appreciation of the way businesses and social enterprises function, control their operations, report on their performance and make strategic decisions.


Historical and Contemporary Issues in Social Enterprises

This module introduces and explores the historical roots of social enterprise from the Rochdale Pioneers through to and including today’s hybrid organisations. It considers the underpinning values and principles that bind todays organisations with the past, focusing on efforts to eliminate social problems or promote positive change in society and relates this to the contexts and challenges they face today.


Level 5 (Foundation degree year)


Business Strategy and Innovation

Students develop knowledge and critical understanding of the classical principles of business strategy in exploring the question. “How should organisations compete to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in today’s global business environment?” In answering the potential of a social enterprise to create value through effective exploitation and development of internal resources and capabilities is examined using well-established analytical tools, along with the links between the social enterprise and the external environment within which it operates.


Leading and Managing through Mission

This module provides an overview of the theory of leadership and people management and relates these skills to social enterprise. It explores how organisations change over time and the role of social entrepreneurs and managers in this process. In particular, change and the management of change is explored through the importance of leading and managing through the organisations central mission.


Leadership and Managing People

This module is designed to encourage learners to consider, evaluate, analyse and apply a set of principles, values and approaches to people leadership and management that minimises or eliminates the barriers that typically inhibit performance and enables people to maximise their value-added contribution to both their own development and business goals.


Finance for Developing Business

Whilst social entrepreneurs are motivated by a social agenda, no enterprise is sustainable without secure funding. This module continues to focus on the practicalities of how to finance a social enterprise and specifically explores issues faced by social entrepreneurs when trying to access finance to grow an organisation. This module develops the skills needed to plan and control finance to ensure that the organisation has the funds to develop the business whilst upholding the core mission.


Identity and Legalities

At the simplest level, a social enterprise can be a sole trader who has decided to donate the majority of the profit he or she makes to a good cause. Social enterprises may however take a variety of legal forms and the process for establishing one depends on which legal form is chosen. This module explores the range of legal formats and considers these in relation to the identity the social enterprise is wishing to project. Particular attention is paid to tensions between the founder’s aspirations, statutory requirements and the need to attract funding from different sources. The module also looks at law in relation to trading and employment.


Networks and Networking

The ability to access resources is a key skill of the social entrepreneur. This depends as much on who you know what you know and is a dynamic process which requires constant attention. This module critically assesses the value of networks and networking. It develops the skills to enable the social entrepreneur to understand and map their own task environment, highlighting opportunities to influence their environment as well as access resources and information.


Social Enterprise Work-based Project and Research Skills

This module is an opportunity for students to participate in a substantial piece of research regarding a business problem or opportunity within their own workplace. Students select an appropriate research topic with support from the module leader and workplace mentor. Alongside this project, students are introduced to research principles and practices. This enables the student to produce a piece of methodologically sound research which is of value and practical use to the student’s employer as well as developing their own understanding of a particular issue within the area of social enterprise.

Throughout the programme, teaching and learning strategies adopted by tutors will acknowledge and encourage a range of learning styles and will aim to provide a balance between provision of information and opportunities to assimilate actively, apply, question, debate and reflect critically. Within this overarching approach there are differences between individual modules and between levels.

Entrants to the Programme should normally be in a current role in an appropriate workplace setting (Voluntary or paid) and will normally be asked to provide a line manager’s letter of support and recommendation. They will also normally be expected to possess the following:


A minimum of two years’ relevant work experience and a current role in an appropriate workplace setting,


  • a minimum of one pass at A-level or 6-unit Vocational A-level, plus three passes at GCSE (grades A–C), or O-level (grades A–C) normally including Mathematics and English Language, or
  • a National Certificate or Diploma or other equivalent qualifications, such as GNVQ/NVQ or other Level 3 vocational qualifications.

Applicants will normally be interviewed and assessed by the College to ensure they possess the appropriate attributes to succeed on the programme.

Students will apply to the Partner via UCAS or direct to the College for admission to the Certificate of Higher Education in Business and Social Enterprise programme. 

Admission with Credit

Applicants with prior certificated or experiential learning may be admitted to the Certificate of Higher Education in Business and Social Enterprise with credit for up to a maximum of 80 credits at level 4.

Students must take all modules at Level 5 in the Foundation Degree in Business and Social Enterprise.


Exceptionally, applicants who can show that they have qualifications or experience or both that demonstrate that they have knowledge and capabilities equivalent to those possessed by holders of the qualifications listed above may be admitted with dispensation from the requirement to possess those qualifications.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate that their level of English is acceptable, by achieving a score in a recognised test such as: 

  • British Council IELTS: normally minimum level 6.0 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in the reading and writing components; 
  • TOEFL minimum score of 550 paper-based or 213 computer-based or 80 internet-based.

This course starts in September 2017.
Applications should be made via UCAS .  After this date, please contact us or 01865 759600.

Social enterprises form the fastest growing sector in the UK and globally. Today more than at any time in the past Social Enterprises are operating in almost every industry in the UK and across the globe creating job opportunities at every level within the organisation.

Click on the tutor's name to read their profile

Tracy Walsh

Programme Coordinator

Ian Manborde


Fenella Porter


Caroline Holmes


Mark Arnold


To apply for this course you need to go through UCAS.

You will need to use the course code N108. This course is listed under Oxford Brookes University courses (institution code O66).

Please contact if you have any questions about this.

Tuition fees

Subject to eligibility, most full and part time students will be eligible to apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the Student Loans Company.

Maintenance (living costs)

Subject to eligibility, full time students may be eligible to apply for help with their maintenance with a Maintenance Grant/Loan. Part time students are not eligible for any financial help with maintenance.
Information on the Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Grant/Loan can be found here.