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Beyond the bottom line: a global vision of marketing

According to the UN’s latest projections, the global population could grow to around 9.7 billion in 2050. Massive over-consumption in some parts of the world means that to sustain current lifestyles we would need almost three planets to provide enough natural resources.

But in a global economy in which customers can ask Alexa to buy almost anything and expect same day delivery, how can marketeers meet consumer demand without contributing to a sustainability crisis? We spoke to Dr Stefano Harney about how our brand new BSc in Marketing will tackle these issues and more.

Written by Allie Fitzgibbon |

Marketing professionals discussing a design brief
"Our curriculum takes a far wider and more contextual look at marketing, advertising and corporate communication than other degree programmes of its kind."

The University of London, with academic direction from member institution Royal Holloway, is launching a brand new BSc in Marketing. The degree-level programme, which will be available to study entirely online, is open for applications in June 2021.

We want our students to be the ones to confront these issues, to solve these problems and to have the consciousness to really rise up in their careers.

But if you’re expecting simply to learn the basics of brand management, product pricing and Google ads, think again. Dr Stefano Harney has taught at Singapore Management University, Queen Mary University of London and City University of New York among others, and has fifteen years’ experience teaching in online environments. He has recently joined Royal Holloway, University of London as programme director of the new online BSc Marketing. He explained how the programme has a unique vision of marketing.

“Our curriculum takes a far wider and more contextual look at marketing, advertising and corporate communication than other degree programmes of its kind. We’re concerned with core societal issues like environmental sustainability amid mass consumption; questions of gender in marketing and advertising; equity and inequity of growth, both between countries and within countries. We want our students not only to be aware of these issues but to be the ones to confront them, to solve these problems and to have the consciousness to really rise up in their careers.”

We’ll teach you about the relationship between marketing and happiness – and that goes beyond just feeling happy that you got the job.

Royal Holloway, University of London’s Marketing Department has a strong reputation for its interdisciplinary teaching style and its productive research team, something that Dr Harney was particularly excited about when he took up the programme director post.

“A lot of our scholars are looking at these big issues. One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is over-consumption in some parts of the world and someone going into marketing can’t be naïve about the role they will play in tackling that problem. Marketing has also played a big part in some of society’s traditional assumptions about gender – portraying who a mum should be and what her role is – which aren’t aligned with gender equity and don’t reflect the dreams and desires of girls and young women.

“There’s also a strong push in our department to decolonise the curriculum. That means not simply taking a step towards diversity and multiculturalism – though that’s a part of it – but to really examine our own foundations, our roots and realise how much of our own knowledge and success isn’t necessarily down to a meritocracy but has deep colonial foundations.”

The people who are cognisant of the relationship between marketing and some of the biggest issues in society are the ones who will bring the biggest value to their companies.

Dr Harney feels passionately that this broad contextual curriculum will prepare students for real career success.

“It’s our strong contention that by giving students broader perspectives we won’t just be helping them get their first job or their first big step up in their career, we’ll actually be preparing them for the jump up after that. The people who are cognisant of the largest issues in society and the relationship between marketing and those issues are the ones who will bring the biggest value to their companies.”

The BSc Marketing is the second degree-level programme to be run in partnership with online learning platform Coursera. In 2019 the University of London launched a BSc Computer Science and more than 3,000 students around the world have enrolled on the programme so far.

Betty Vandenbosch, CCO of Coursera, said: “We’re honoured that the University of London is launching a second job-relevant degree on Coursera – enabling learners from around the world to access an affordable education from a top 25 UK university.  Degrees continue to be one of the most valued credentials in the job market, and we’re excited to be launching the BSc Marketing which will equip students with the latest knowledge, techniques and practices in this high-demand field.”

Dr Harney added: “I have many years’ experience in distance learning but this is my first experience working with the University of London and Coursera – it’s a very different, very exciting platform. Rather than starting from the idea that you’re trying to recreate a campus experience as much as you can, they know that many students want to be independent, set their own pace and learn in their own style and they have real expertise to underpin that very different approach we take to teaching so it’s a really exciting partnership.”

If you’re wondering whether this is the programme for you, Dr Harney encourages you to think big.

“We’re looking for students from anywhere in the world who want to engage in the big issues. You need to have confidence in yourself and be ready to learn independently, taking advantage of the wealth of resources we’re creating. In return, we’ll teach you about the relationship between marketing and happiness – and that goes beyond just feeling happy that you got the job.”

Discover how you can bring a global vision to your marketing ambitions, time to make your mark with the University of London’s new BSc Marketing.