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Present a review of academic literature that considers the various approaches operations may take to manage their materials. This review needs to focus specifically on methods presented in this module.

OSM Coursework Assessment

  • Title page – do not put your name on your work, University policy is blind marking.
  • Executive summary?
  • Contents list
  • Introduction
  • Terms of Reference – the task, verbatim
  • Literature review –materials management/inventory’?
  • Access statement, methodology
  • Findings, to be presented under sub-headings of your construct
  • Assessment of practice in relation to efficiency, effectiveness and economy
  • Conclusions
  • Reference list – go to our library pages for the acceptable referencing style required
  • Appendices – evidence of primary research, see FAQ for guidance.

Your report should be no more than 2000 words in length and no less than 1800 words.

Assignment task:

1          Present a review of academic literature that considers the various approaches operations may take to manage their materials. This review needs to focus specifically on methods presented in this module.


2          Undertake primary field research on a named operation to identify the various methods of sourcing and managing materials that they use. Be aware that different approaches may be used for different classes of materials.


3          From your findings does the operation benefit from efficiency, effectiveness and economy in   their operational approaches identified above?


The primary research should be collected from the operation not customers, the focus for this assignment is internal.

Part 1.

For the first element, literature review to address the various approaches operations may take when managing materials/inventory.  Please note this is not a critical review, the intent is for students to consider the various approaches/operational methods covered in this module and offer up the benefits and drawbacks in their assessment. This element needs to be fully referenced from academic sources.

For this element we are concerned with students being able to locate the topic from an applied perspective that is; what choices do operations have when they decide how to manage their materials, including purchasing and supply chain issues.

The literature reviewed should consider materials management in the first instance from an academic perspective, what is it, what form, supplier selection, frequency needs, etc. Then students should consider how the above applies to their chosen research operation sector, e.g. retail; leisure; manufacturing etc. It is therefore essential that alongside academic material you do not ignore trade journals, newspapers and magazines as these can be a valuable resource in identifying trends and regulatory requirements. In the UK consideration may be needed of the potential consequences of the Brexit deal which could have a profound impact on the existing supply policy for some operations. Adopting this position will assist in two ways:

1          limiting the literature search and

2          enabling your primary research to link to specific theory – make connections.

Part 2.

Once the above has been fully explored, conduct your field research. How does the focus operation manage its materials?

From your primary research, present your findings through the lens of theory and models from this module. The analysis should be supported by evidence. This requires you to provide substantial and substantiated references from both academic sources AND your primary research to inform the reader how the focus operation engage in the activity of materials management.

For example you need to enquire about:

1          What are the primary materials sourcing methods?

2          Why have they adopted the above methods?

3          Does the present method/s ensure consistency of supply?

4          Do they ever suffer from stock shortages?

5          Do they have a stock of obsolete items?

Owner’s, manager’s opinion is required please note this is not a template for your research, but directional advice.

Part 3.

From your findings this section gives the opportunity to assess whether the focus operation is benefiting from efficiency, effectiveness and economy – do the methods adopted best fit the desired outcomes, performance objectives and strategy?

Present your findings in report format, applying appropriate sub-headings (divisions) within your analysis.

Reports require a particular format, sub-headed sections that lead the reader through the salient elements presented with a concise written style. It is preferable that students adopt the third person as this reads in a more professional manner (a key transferable skill which would be expected in the work place) than first person. Remember you are writing a factual document intended to inform the reader of your findings; structure and readability are essential.

The assignment task is in three parts but linked by the fundamental activity of materials management/inventory the aim is for you link the theory to the reality of your research operation and from these findings assess the materials management methods in place, are the objectives of effectiveness, efficiency and economy being met to deliver the desired performance/strategic objectives?

Your report should follow traditional format – go to the library web pages for guidance including what a report should contain, from sub heading to referencing style. Please ensure you know how to prepare a report (look at and read existing reports for tips) this is a primary skill and transferable to the work place.

You must gain access to an operation, primary research requires actual contact with the organisation, you must not use material prepared for other purposes, e.g. web pages, case studies and articles etc., these are examples of secondary research and will not be acceptable to pass this assignment.

Select your operation based on the following:

1          Access – will they talk to you?

2          Access – will they talk to you?

3          Access – will they talk to you?

You need to construct a research instrument, this will be using your judgement to select the most appropriate tool to gather the information required. There are many texts available on research methods; it is advisable to read about methods to assist in your decision.

A conclusion is required.

Appendices may be provided, but these should be supporting information only, e.g. raw data from your primary research.

Some Handy Tips:

  • Think carefully about the organization you are going to write about. Can you actually get the information you need?
  • How will you do it? Plan your reading strategy and primary research collection method.
  • When completing your report, justify your answers using appropriate references – use journal papers as well as text books.
  • There are two equally weighted parts to the assignment, give them equal consideration..
  • Remember the reader needs to know how you know – cite all sources.
  • Write clearly; try not to use ‘jargon’.


Intended Learning Outcomes:



  1. Understand the key concepts and practices of operations and supply management.
  2. Evaluate current approaches to managing and improving operations and supply.
  3. Analyse organisational practices using operations concepts.
  4. Apply key operations concepts to solve relevant problems.
  5. Recognise the importance of continuous improvement in operations and supply management.
  6. Apply qualitative and/or quantitative reasoning from available information.
  7. Present analytical findings clearly.


Grade Attainment Levels:

First Class:

  • Exceptionally good work, which demonstrates extensive, accurate knowledge and understanding of the academic principles applicable to the topic.
  • Comprehensive field research presented which provides evidence of the operational practices of the organization
  • Additional academic input that demonstrates insight into theoretical issues i.e. a clear indication of the ability to apply theory to practice
  • A coherently structured report with correct use of language and spelling.

Q1. For the assignment primary data collection, do I have to interview an Operations Director/Manager?

A1. No – you need to gain the information to address the assignment task from the person who manages the materials, therefore for a small business it would be the owner or manager, for a large business e.g. a supermarket, I would advise that you select one department only, i.e. bakery or fish counter and interview the manager for that section only.

Please do not make the task harder than it is by overcomplicating, the best assignments for a project like this focus on a small business, often only one outlet, a corner shop/pub/cafe.

Q2. Can I gather information for the assignment from a family member who owns/runs their own business?

A2.   Yes, this is quite acceptable, ease of access is a bonus and we are quite happy for you to exploit this advantage.

Q3.  I’m confused by part 1 of the assignment, how should I tackle this?

A3.  The literature review should consist of an expose of the range of methods/models available to operations specific to the topic of managing their materials – drawn from the module. Therefore you need to offer in a clear and concise style what these are. As the assignment requires report format these could be presented under separate subheading. You should consider the model/method and reveal the pros and cons for each. This section ensures you have read and understood the range of method available and should then inform your primary research for the second element – you will know what you are talking about and be able to collect relevant information to report in this section (part 2) ensuring part 3 of the report – the analysis- can be addressed and underpinned with evidence – where we are testing theory verses practice.

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