Advanced Spreadsheets and Decision Support Systems - BUSN9210

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 15 (7.5) Yang Zhang checkmark-circle


The aim of this module is to enable students to use spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel) to structure, analyse and solve a variety of business problems. It will also provide the students with a basic knowledge of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) as a means to automate Excel functionalities and create user-friendly applications.

The module will cover two main topics:
- Spreadsheet Modelling. This part will involve learning about modelling techniques to represent the real world in a structured and logical way; how to use basic and advanced spreadsheet facilities to organize, visualise, query and summarise data; how to use spreadsheets to analyse and solve managerial problems in a variety of organisations (e.g. scheduling, forecasting, inventory, optimisation, financial analysis, and project management problems).

- Visual Basic for Applications. In this part of the module, students will learn how to take their Excel abilities to the next level by wrapping their spreadsheet models into friendly applications for the end users. Through guided demonstrations, students will develop a variety of applications, including financial, logistics and business management applications.

The module will be subject to continual refinement to ensure the content is kept relevant to industry's usage of spreadsheets.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 36
Private study hours: 114
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Assignment - Group Spreadsheet Modelling (2000 words) (40%)
Assignment – Developing VBA Support System (40%)
VLE VBA Test (20%).

Reassessment method:
100% coursework

Indicative reading

Albright, S.C. (2015) VBA for Modellers: Developing Decision Support Systems Using Microsoft Excel. 5th Edn. Pacific Grove, CA: Duxbury Press.

Hillier, F.S. (2013) Introduction to Management Science: A Modelling and Case Studies Approach with Spreadsheets. 5th Edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Savage, S.L. (2002) Decision Making with Insight. Pacific Grove, CA: Duxbury Press.

Winston, W.L. (2003) Operations Research: Applications and Algorithms, 4th Edn. Pacific Grove, CA: Duxbury Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Appreciate the nature of modelling and how real-world systems may be represented in mathematical form and realised on a computer.
- Determine when a realistic problem is in non-standard form and represent it quantitatively using a computer.
- Use the quantitative and statistical facilities of industry-standard spreadsheet software.
- Build spreadsheet models for the analysis of real-world problems using the approaches and methodology of Operational Research.
- Undertake analyses of practical problems using the VBA programming language.
- Build decision support systems for efficient decision making in complex situations.

The intended generic learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Communicate technical results effectively to both technical experts and non-specialist managers.
- Work effectively in groups in order to analyse a complex problem, share work efficiently and produce well-coordinated presentational material.
- Write a project report based on the use of computer tools to solve a realistic management problem, incorporating suitable presentational and graphical devices.
- Use computer tools to solve practical problems of direct relevance to management.
- Use creativity and independent thinking in building models to analyse complex situations.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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