Module Catalogue 2019/20

CSC8624 : Professional Skills

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Barry Hodgson
  • Lecturer: Professor Paul Watson
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module provides an introduction to professional skills for students by:
1) Developing students' knowledge, understanding, and practical experience of enterprise culture.
2) Learning the key tools and steps to build a successful start-up (or at least reduce the risk of failure) and hence exploring the fundamentals of entrepreneurial thinking.
3) Exploring the customer development process and learning how to identify and engage customers in a product.
4) Developing students' knowledge and understanding of customer feedback - how to gather, evaluate and use customer feedback (data) to iterate product development.
5) Creating market related hypothesis, testing and validating through the underpinning concept of the business model.
After providing students with an overview of business and entrepreneurial skills, the module develops ‘hands-on’ business skills and awareness of entrepreneurial activity through the lens of the ‘lean start-up’ methodology. Using a business model canvass process as the foundation, students will be asked to understand and deploy enterprise skills which will be critically evaluated throughout the course. These include how to present, articulate and test hypotheses (relating to a business model), how to find and understand the nature of a minimum viable product, how to develop customer and partner relationships and define revenue models. External experts with relevant, current business experience will be utilised through the module to present to the students and comment on their work. This module provides a foundation for the business activities that run through the EPSRC CDT in Cloud Computing for Big Data (for those students who transfer to that programme).

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to Organisations – start-ups vs large companies
Business Models and Customer Development
Value Proposition
Customer Segments
Customer Relationships
Revenue Models
Resources, Activities and Costs

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of the range of business and entrepreneurial skills
Undertake fundamental market research through the customer development process
Identify the skills they bring to a team and the areas for development.
Demonstrate a practical understanding of the key tools and steps necessary to help build a successful business.
Demonstrate a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the entrepreneurial business environment
Demonstrate practical understanding of IPR and other legislation and regulations relevant to the management of innovation and technology.
Demonstrate a critical understanding of what makes a viable business proposition.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:
Analyse and evaluate the development of a small business/start up and use critical awareness of new insights to iterate and improve business/idea development
Critically engage with and analyse enterprise related activities
Develop initiative and resourcefulness in building and developing support to deliver goals

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture41:004:00Lectures by external guests
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Contribution to preparation of team PowerPoint presentation (per team member.)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Contribution to writing of the group report for the final assessment (per team member.)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion80:304:00Update of individual reflective blog.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00Presentation of final report to external guests.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading81:008:00Background reading.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops81:008:00Presentations, discussions and critique of work
Guided Independent StudyProject work84:0032:00Visiting customers and acquiring feedback data.
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:3012:00Update of project work for weekly presentation, discussion and critique (not assessed).
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module brings together lectures, independent study, intensive group work, practical fieldwork exploration and informative lectures and weekly critique by industry experts to deliver a practical understanding of entrepreneurial skills. The module is delivered over an 8 week period. Students are asked to form into teams (max 4). Knowledge is developed through practical iteration of the business model canvass as a process for understanding the key tools and steps to develop successful entrepreneurial thinking. Teaching includes weekly lectures, discussion, group presentation and critique followed by independent fieldwork (to gather customer feedback). Each week the model will be updated based on fieldwork and the cycle will begin again. Students will present the update followed by discussion, critique and a lecture addressing a new component of the business model - until initial business hypotheses (on customers, channels, partners, revenue models, etc) are tested and validated in the real world. Groups will be allocated industry experts to act as mentors who will follow their progress over the course of the module. Iterative weekly sessions will lead to the development of a more robust business model culminating in a final group presentation to external experts, the submission of a group report that follows the1process and iterations from initial business model conception to final presentation and an independent reflective log on lessons learned and peer contribution.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M60Group report–final version of business model report following weekly iterations.Peer moderated group assessment (5000 words/team).
Reflective log2M20Individual reflective log on learning outcomes to include peer assessment (1000 words)
Prof skill assessmnt2M20Group PowerPoint presentation on final business model. Peer moderated group assessment (15 minute group presentation, max 12 slides)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module will introduce key concepts in understanding the entrepreneurial landscape and develop analytical skill sets through the practical application of tools and methodologies. Assessment is through a single individual deliverable (worth 20%) and two team deliverables (worth 80%), emphasising the practical nature of the module. The individual deliverable is designed to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the problem to be solved, what their role within the group will be and to provide a reflection on what they have learnt from the module. Team deliverables require students to work together to produce a common report and presentation slides to demonstrate that students are able to work collectively to produce an end product. Peer assessment is employed to identify each individual's contribution to the team.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.