Decision Making Under Uncertainty BUS5005

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Adam Smith Business School
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course focuses on the nature of decision making within organisations, and the importance of understanding how uncertainty within that process can generate risks within organisations. It explores concepts of decision making, the role of managers and others within that process, and considers how expertise and evidence are used within the process.


The course is typically delivered over 6 days' full teaching.

Requirements of Entry

Please refer to the current postgraduate prospectus at: 

Excluded Courses



The course is formally assessed by the use of a group assignment of 4000-5000 words. As this is the first assessed course within the programme, a group assessment is used to ensure that students are given the opportunity to work in groups whilst becoming familiar with the demands of the MBA programme. In addition to the formal assessment, there is a considerable amount of class discussion in relation to theory and cases and feedback is continuously provided on students' understanding of the material.

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


Reassessment opportunities are provided in accordance with School policy as applied to assessed groupwork.

Course Aims

This course aims to introduce students to the role of uncertainty in decision making within organisations. In support of this, the course has several objectives:

1. To highlight the processes by which decisions are made in organisations

2. To differentiate between the rational and bounded rationality perspectives on decision making

3. To examine the role of knowledge, expertise and uncertainty within the decision making processes

4. To differentiate between what is known and what is unknown and to assess its implications for the predictive validity associated with decisions (both operational and strategic)

5. To introduce students to the principles of managing risk and the implications that risk may have for precautionary approaches to decision making within policy

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Explain the nature of risk, uncertainty, and indeterminacy and show how these elements impact on the decision-making process within organisations.

2. Outline the processes by which decisions are made within organisations by adopting a systems based and holistic approach to decision making.

3. Identify the components of a typical decision-making process and highlight its strengths and weaknesses

4. Evaluate when, and how, domain specific knowledge is important in determining the nature and validity of expertise.

5. Critically examine the rational model of decision making and show how it is limited in practice by the bounded nature of our rationality.

6. Show how multiple rationalities can exist within the same decision space and illustrate the implications that this has for decision quality and especially in terms of their impact upon latent and active errors.

7. Explain the latent and active elements of decision making and show how they can impact on organisational performance

8. Be able to critically evaluate the processes by which teams make decisions and how both team based, and individual decision-making processes can be shaped by dysfunctional behaviours.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.