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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

OLUB5207M Decision Making in a Complex World

15 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Nicola Bown

Taught: 1 Sep to 31 Oct, 1 Sep to 31 Oct (adv yr) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Students are required to meet the programme entry requirements prior to studying the module.

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Decision making is a key management function, particularly in complex contexts with competing demands. Students will obtain an understanding of the thinking processes that underlie their own and others’ judgement and decision making in individual and group decision making situations. Students will learn to recognise the judgmental errors and decision biases that commonly arise, and strategies for improving their decision making, risk communication and negotiation skills. The module also introduces the basics of designing decision making contexts in ways which have been shown to influence the behaviours of others.


The objective of this module is to offer insight into, and understanding of, the thinking processes that underlie human judgement and decision making. In particular, it focuses on the predictable judgmental errors and decision biases that commonly arise, and offers strategies for improving these decisions in situations from simple daily activity to complex and strategic decisions.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Summarise and discuss the thinking processes which underlie students own and others’ judgement and decision making, including the distinction between System 1 and System 2 thinking and the different types of errors / biases in human judgement/decision making for both simple and complex choices.
2. Evaluate the differentiating characteristics of a range of structured decision aids designed to improve the quality of human decision and assess their suitability for different situations relating to sustainability decisions.
3. Synthesize theoretical approaches to risk perception and communication to inform the design and evaluation of a risk communication strategy, for example to communicate environmental and/or business risk.
4. Reflect, debate and communicate the practical and ethical value of using cognitive and behavioral insight to influence judgment and change others’ behaviour.
5. To identify and critically assess the information context within which businesses operate and the implications of this for complex decision making, including an appreciation of individual, group and cultural differences and styles of decision making (e.g. in negotiations).
6. Communicate, evaluate and persuade in writing at an advanced level using appropriate terminology pertaining to complex decision making.


Indicative content:

1. Introduction to decision research
2. Judgmental heuristics and biases and ways of de-biasing/improving judgement
3. Structured approaches to decision aiding, decision trees, risk analysis, SMART and scenario planning
4. Bargaining and negotiation
5. Group decision making
6. Risk perception and risk communication
7. Behaviour change and relevance for change management.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning61.006.00
Discussion forum61.006.00
Independent online learning hours24.00
Private study hours114.00
Total Contact hours12.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Independent online learning refers to non-facilitated directed learning. Students will work through bespoke interactive learning resources and reflective activities in the VLE.

Private study refers to directed reading and self-directed research in support of learning activities and discussions, as well as in preparation for assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- The module's digital learning materials provide regular opportunities for participants to check their understanding and gain feedback (e.g., case studies with short answer questions and automated feedback, MCQs with detailed feedback on correct/incorrect answers).
- The individual unit webinars and discussion forums provide opportunities for formative feedback from peers and tutors.
- At least one scaffolded exercise is offered during the early units, designed to help students identify and progress with a topic for their assessment. Students will be invited to seek educator’s feedback on this exercise to help with their assessment.
- The module assessments (2,000 word assignment, 1,000 word reflective log) will enable student progress to be monitored. Under normal circumstances feedback is provided for Assessment 1 before Assessment 2 is due, so students can build on this feedback in their second submission.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words70.00
Reflective log1,000 words drawing on forum postings / discussions30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

If a student is required to re-sit the reflective log assessment they will be asked to produce a new reflective piece, drawing on a new set of resources and commentary selected by the module leader.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 08/08/2022


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