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Department of Computer Science and Technology



Course pages 2023–24

Business Studies

Principal lecturer: Stewart McTavish
Taken by: Part II CST
Term: Michaelmas
Hours: 8
Format: In-person lectures
Suggested hours of supervisions: 2
Prerequisites: Economics, Law and Ethics
This course is a prerequisite for: E-Commerce
Exam: Paper 9 Question 3
Past exam questions, Moodle, timetable


How to start and run a computer company; the aims of this course are to introduce students to all the things that go to making a successful project or product other than just the programming. The course will survey some of the issues that students are likely to encounter in the world of commerce and that need to be considered when setting up a new computer company.

See also Business Seminars in the Easter Term.


  • So you’ve got an idea? Introduction. Why are you doing it and what is it? Types of company. Market analysis. The business plan.
  • Money and tools for its management. Introduction to accounting: profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, budgets. Sources of finance. Stocks and shares. Options and futures.
  • Setting up: legal aspects. Company formation. Brief introduction to business law; duties of directors. Shares, stock options, profit share schemes and the like. Intellectual Property Rights, patents, trademarks and copyright. Company culture and management theory.
  • People. Motivating factors. Groups and teams. Ego. Hiring and firing: employment law. Interviews. Meeting techniques.
  • Project planning and management. Role of a manager. PERT and GANTT charts, and critical path analysis. Estimation techniques. Monitoring.
  • Quality, maintenance and documentation. Development cycle. Productization. Plan for quality. Plan for maintenance. Plan for documentation.
  • Marketing and selling. Sales and marketing are different. Marketing; channels; marketing communications. Stages in selling. Control and commissions.
  • Growth and exit routes. New markets: horizontal and vertical expansion. Problems of growth; second system effects. Management structures. Communication. Exit routes: acquisition, floatation, MBO or liquidation. Futures: some emerging ideas for new computer businesses. Summary. Conclusion: now you do it!


At the end of the course students should

  • be able to write and analyse a business plan;
  • know how to construct PERT and GANTT diagrams and perform critical path analysis;
  • appreciate the differences between profitability and cash flow, and have some notion of budget estimation;
  • have an outline view of company formation, share structure, capital raising, growth and exit routes;
  • have been introduced to concepts of team formation and management;
  • know about quality documentation and productization processes;
  • understand the rudiments of marketing and the sales process.

Recommended reading

Lang, J. (2001). The high-tech entrepreneur’s handbook: how to start and run a high-tech company. FT.COM/Prentice Hall.

Students will be expected to be able to use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project.

For additional reading on a lecture-by-lecture basis, please see the course website.

Students are strongly recommended to enter the CU Entrepreneurs Business Ideas Competition