Co-operative Enterprise

Module titleCo-operative Enterprise
Module codeBEM3038
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Adrian Bailey (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description


In this module, students work in groups to develop a co-operative business plan that could be launched on graduation.  This could be anything where there is an identified primary social need (e.g. housing) or secondary social need (e.g. leisure).  Students are given step by step guidance about how to form a co-operative business by a range of invited guest speakers with expertise in different areas of co-operation.  Through the process of developing a co-operative business plan, the students will be required to engage with the aims of the module.

Additional Information:


Co-operatives are found throughout the world and the principles enshrined by the International Co-operative Alliance form the basis of the business models developed in this module.


Sustainability is a key consideration in the viability of the business plans developed in this module, in line with the seventh principle of co-operation set out by the ICA, which states: ‘Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members’.


The module will be of value to students seeking to work in environments where knowledge of co-operative principles and working practices are important.  For example, government posts, NGOs and businesses that transact with co-operatives.  You will also develop team work skills and co-operative solutions to common problems like ‘free riders’ and leadership conflict.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to:

  • introduce students to expert guest speakers who are involved in supporting co-operative development
  • explain the importance of co-operative values and principles to member based businesses
  • explore how co-operatives as a social economic model can contribute to community development
  • provide an in-depth analysis of different types of member owned business
  • equip students with the skills, knowledge and experience to develop a co-operative business plan that aligns with co-operative values and principles

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. articulate the elements that make co-operatives distinctive organisations vis-à-vis, state run enterprises, investor owned businesses and social purpose enterprises (e.g. charities).
  • 2. identify opportunities in which co-operative enterprises might be best placed to meet social needs.
  • 3. design and communicate a co-operative business plan, using oral presentations and written documents, that is congruent with co-operative values and principles.
  • 4. critically evaluate the effectiveness of different co-operative enterprises and their associated legal, financial and organizational forms.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. relate, in writing and verbally, debates about co-operative enterprise to wider trends in economy, society and culture, including the provision of public services and the changing role of the state.
  • 6. connect the practitioner and academic worlds vital to the success of co-operative enterprise, in the presentation of theory, concept and evidence.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. identify the value of specific skills that support co-operative enquiry. These skills involve individuals developing an awareness about the challenges faced by the co-operating group, effectively evaluating their personal capabilities in relation to those possessed by other group members, and taking on different roles at different times in the collaborative process in the best of interests of the group; for example, with respect to teamwork, leadership, empathy, and inter and intra group collaboration.
  • 8. exercise autonomy through independent learning including the effective use of time and resources to deliver a group presentation and contribute to a business plan.
  • 9. demonstrate appropriate and innovative use of ICT and IT.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Defining Co-operatives
1. Co-operatives as Social Enterprise
2. Co-operative Organisational Forms
3. Co-operation: The Philosophy of Working Together

Creating Co-operatives
4. Social Needs and Economic Justification
5. Opportunities for Co-operative Enterprise
6. Legal Frameworks
7. Partnerships
8. Capitalisation
9. Economic Forecasting
10. Demonstrating Impact
11. Group Workshop

Communicating Co-operatives
12. Presenting Your Business Plan

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours20lectures
Contact hours5Tutorials
Contact hours2Workshops


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class DiscussionsVaries from session to session1-9Verbal
Class ExercisesVaries from session to session1-9Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation3020 minutes comprising per student input of c.750 words or equivalent1-9Written and Verbal
Group Business Plan40no more than 1500 words per student1-9Written
Individual Paper302500 words1-7, 9Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group PresentationEvaluating Co-operative Business Models (1,000 words, 30%) 1-4, 915.00 on 7th August 2019
Group Business PlanThe Philosophy and Practice of Co-operation (2,500 words, 40%) 2,5,6, 715.00 on 14 August 2019
Individual PaperPlatform Co-operatives (1,000 words, 30%)1,2,4,5,6,915.00 on 21 August 2019


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Birchall, J. (2011) People-Centred Business: Co-operatives, Mutuals and the Idea of Membership, Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan

Hall, J.K., Daneke, G.A., Lenox, M.J. (2010) ‘Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship: Past Contributions and Future Directions’ Journal of Business Venturing 25 (5) 439-448

Mayo, E., Moore, H. (2001) The Mutual State: How local communities can run public services, New Economics Foundation

Murray, R. (2011) Co-operation in the Age of Google: A review for Co-operatives UK – draft for comments, [downloaded 20/02/2012 ]

Gijselinckx, C., Develtere, P. (2008) ‘The Co-operative Trilemma: Co-operatives between market, state and civil society’, Working Papers on Social and Co-operative Entrepreneurship [downloaded 20/02/2012 ]

Powell, M., & Osborne, S. P. (2015). Can marketing contribute to sustainable social enterprise?. Social Enterprise Journal, 11(1), 24-46.

Ridley-Duff, R. J., Bull, M. (2011) Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice. London: Sage Publications

Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2009) ‘Cooperative Social Enterprises: Company Rules, Access to Finance and Management Practice’, Social Enterprise Journal 5(1), 50-67

Ridley-Duff, R.J. (2007) ‘Communitarian Perspectives on Social Enterprise’, Corporate Governance 15(2), 382-394

Pestoff, V. (2009) ‘Towards a Paradigm of Democratic Participation: Citizen Participation and Co-production of Personal Social Services in Sweden’, Annals of Public and Co-operative Economics 80(2), 197-224

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Co-operatives UK

  • Simply Finance - a comprehensive guide to the different options for financing a community enterprise.

  • Simply Governance - A comprehensive guide to understanding the systems and processes concerned with the running of a sustainable community enterprise.

  • Simply Start Up - A guide for anyone involved in the creation of an enterprise that will be owned by, run by, and supported by the community in which it operates.

  • Simply Legal - a comprehensive guide to the legal forms and organisational types for community enterprises.



The Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Movement and Related Institutions

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Co-op; Co-operative; Social Enterprise; Third Sector; Co-operative Enterprise

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date