Commercial Awareness

The details
Essex Law School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
11 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Commercial Awareness is a critical requirement for law (and other) firms in the recruitment process. This module aims to help students understand how organisations grow and develop, build customer bases, recognise tangible and intangible assets, and identify key considerations around cost structures and revenue streams. The module is designed to develop an awareness of how businesses operate and how they navigate changing landscapes.

Students will learn how to critically analyse organisations using the SWOT and PESTLE frameworks, and will learn how the Business Model Canvas can be used to analyse the value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances of businesses, firms and products.

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Consolidate skills developed throughout the Law degree, including critical analysis, research skills (including the ability to evaluate information/data from a range of sources), the ability to apply knowledge (including legal knowledge) to real-world issues and in real-world contexts, and the ability to offer evidenced conclusions;

  • Synthesise knowledge gained through the Law degree students’ independent learning (e.g. commercial awareness and current events), and students’ own experience (e.g. part-time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities);

  • Enable students to apply knowledge and skills developed in the academic legal context to a commercial context, understanding notions of market forces, SWOT/PESTLE frameworks, and the Business Model Canvas and how these can be used as strategic management tools;

  • Enable students to learn law in context, understanding the role of an organisation as employer and/or as client;

  • Undertake independent research;

  • Introduce students to creative problem-solving techniques;

  • Introduce students to the European Framework of Entrepreneurial Competencies and explain the importance of self-reflection and self-assessment;

  • Increase student employability by introducing knowledge, skills and strategies relevant to employers (including legal employers).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Undertake a substantial piece of research, applying analytical and evaluative skills developed through their degree to new areas of study, and demonstrating awareness of firms/organisations as commercial entities and the operational requirements it takes to make them sustainable. This includes awareness of business operations such as marketing, sales, financial modelling, business partnerships etc., which may not immediately be obvious.

  2. Critically evaluate a large body of information, including textual, numerical and statistical data, as necessitated by the project.

  3. Recognise and critically assess a range of extrinsic factors that create opportunities for and/or constrict business operations through political, economic, societal, technological, legal and environmental change.

  4. Plan, manage and deliver their research project.

  5. Present their findings in a clear and structured format using the SWOT/PESTLE* and Business Model Canvas frameworks.

  6. Critically assess their own competencies against the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework.

* SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

* PESTLE = Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors

Module information

Commercial Awareness demonstrates an individual’s awareness of a range of different market forces – both internal and external – that affect the commercial viability of an organisation.

Through this module, students will understand that employment is an exchange of value creation, recognise the breadth/complexities of business operations, and understand how employees play a key role in an organisation’s success or failure.

This module is assessed by way of portfolio comprising three elements:

  • Completed Business Model Canvas

  • Completed SWOT/PESTLE analysis

  • Reflective statement and skills/competencies assessment


  • Session 1 – Entrepreneurial Mindset

    • Identifying the differences between fixed mindset and growth mindset, what makes business owners different, and how do leader vs manager mindsets approach different challenges?

  • Session 2 – Entrepreneurial Skills

    • Using the European Framework of Entrepreneurial Competencies this session will look at the 15 key skills considered vital for entrepreneurs to start a business and how these apply to law firms.

  • Session 3 – The Business Model Canvas

    • An introduction to the Business Model Canvas, a tool used by early stage businesses and large corporates to identify the market potential of an idea. It is a key tool in understanding the operations and logistics of any organisation.

  • Session 4 – Values, Missions, and Mantras

    • Understanding the principles and values a company operates by, how this translates to the way they deliver to their customers, and what value exchange means in the commercial environment.

  • Session 5 – Understanding the Customer

    • Using modelling tools to understand how companies identify and target different consumer groups, how market research is used to do this, and the social, functional, and emotional triggers of customer buying choices.

  • Session 6 – Marketing and Partnerships

    • Reviewing how you move from understanding the demographic and psychographic information of your customers to marketing campaigns that target them and influence which businesses they purchase from.

  • Session 7 – Revenue Streams and Cost Structures

    • Learning how businesses make generate revenue and how they balance these against the operating costs of a business. Looking at the importance of diversification and financial resilience in organisations.

  • Session 8 – Innovation and Problem Solving

    • Understanding how you solve problems in business through creative technique, communication and negotiation skills, and stay relevant by innovating your product/service offering to remain competitive.

  • Session 9 – SWOT/PESTLE Analysis

    • Looking at how businesses operate in changing environments, exploring the difference of internal vs external factors, and how companies pivot to accommodate unforeseen challenges.

  • Session 10 – Review and Recap

    • This session will bring together the previous nine sessions and synthesise them all with an overview on how to complete a Business Model Canvas, how to integrate a SWOT/PESTLE analysis, and the importance of reflection in self-assessment. 

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour interactive workshop per week.
  • Five 2-hour voluntary drop-in sessions for one-to-one discussion and/or feedback.

Attendance at the workshops is compulsory (the workshops are not recorded).

The assessment criteria and accompanying materials will be available to all students.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Essex Law School

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.