With 490 million consumers in Europe, and their expenditure representing over half of the EU's Gross Domestic Product, consumers have been described as the lifeblood of the economy. They are therefore an essential building block in ensuring continued economic prosperity. However, a report for the EC on the need for postgraduate education in consumer affairs in the EU identified a gap between current provision and labour market demand. This programme is designed to fill that gap.Entry RequirementsApplicants must have:
A bachelor's degree or equivalent in the area of Law/Economics/ Marketing/Communication/Public Policies/Veterinary/Agricultural or other relevant disciplines.
Proficiency in English (for non-native speakers) must be certified by one of the following: TOEFL score of at least 250 (computer-based test) or 575 (paper-based test); Cambridge Proficiency Exam pass; IELTS (> 6.5).
Possession of a first degree taught in English.
In case those applicants do not fulfil the above criteria a personal interview will be scheduled to assess level of English.Course AimsThe new European Consumer Affairs MA (EMCA) will aim to examine consumer affairs from a cross-disciplinary, international perspective enabling students to respond to the needs of employers in the field.
With 490 million consumers in Europe, and their expenditure representing over half of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), consumers have been described as the lifeblood of the economy. Confident consumers are therefore an essential building block in ensuring continued economic prosperity. Businesses need to cater for satisfied consumers, and this takes skills and knowledge.
However, a report for the European Commission (EC) on the need for postgraduate education in consumer affairs in the European Union identified a gap between current provision and labour market demand. The EMCA has therefore received the financial backing of the EC’s Director General of Health and Consumer Affairs to develop such a programme.
This course is offered by Brunel together with a consortium of highly respected universities across Europe:
The Institute of Lifelong Learning, Barcelona University, Spain;
Bologna University in Rimini (Italy);
Montpellier University (France);
University of West Timisoara (Romania).
Successful students will obtain a single degree from Brunel University and may be eligible for a double degree from their home university and the university they visit for one term of study (subject to full validation at the partner university visited).Course ContentPeriod 1 – Home Institution Common CurriculumAn induction programme will be run to ensure all students have a common grounding and understanding of all basic notions needed to study the programme. This will carry no credits but is necessary as students will come from varied backgrounds.
Teaching in Period 1 will be structured in two modules, worth 30 credits each (or 15 ECTS each) (note that this information is indicative only - the content of the programme may vary):
Module 1 – Consumer Affairs Frameworks 1. Legal framework
The European Union and the legal framework applicable to consumer affairs
Consumer models in different EU countries
Dispute resolution for consumers 2. Economic framework
Operation of consumer markets
Marketing for and to consumers
Customer management 3. Psychological framework
Consumer perceptions and expectations 4. Policy and Governance
Public enforcement of consumer policy
Module 2 – Substantive Consumer Affairs 1. Consumer rights and duties
Definition of the consumer
Rights and duties under Consumer legislation in Europe and in Member State of study2. Enterprise responsibility
Data protection duties and protection of consumers
Competition law duties & protection of consumers Period 2 – Mobility & Specialisation TermStudents will either study at Brunel during this period or go to a partner institution. In the latter case, they will receive an accreditation of prior learning.
Each student will elect one area of specialisation and study in the university offering this specialisation. This term is taught in English regardless of the university the student is studying at. Examinations will be in English.
The specialisation areas are:
Barcelona – Safety and Quality of Products and Services
Bologna – Services and Tourism
Brunel – Distance selling and e-commerce
Montpellier – Food Law and Management
Timisoara – Advertising and Consumers
In addition, all students will study in less depth all other areas of specialisation grouped in one module. The content of all specialisation will be rationalised as each institution will send to other the content of the specialisation course to adapt for the shorter course run by all. Teaching content at Brunel:
At Brunel, the teaching will be organised in two modules. The specialisation module is worth 40 credits (20 ECTS) and the other module is worth 20 credits (10 ECTS) to reflect the weight put on the specialisation area.
Module 3 – Distance selling and e-commerce
The internet as a new consumer market – new forms of products and new forms of enterprises
Distance and vulnerable consumers
How to set up a compliant distance selling shop
Effecting transactions at a distance
Consumer management online
Module 4 – Contemporary issues in consumer affairs
Safety and Quality of products
Food law & Management
Services and tourism Period 3 – Work Placement and ProjectPlacements
The placement carries no credits. Employers will provide the academic staff with a report which will form the basis of the assessment of the student performance during the placement on a pass/ fail basis.
The placement will last a minimum of three months and a maximum of four months. The placement can start from 1 July and will end at the latest at the end of December 2010. The following institutions/companies are being approached by Brunel:
Government bodies such as the OFT and BERR.
Citizens Advice bureau
Local Trading Standards
Consumer Council for Postal Services (PostWatch)
Gas & Electricity Consumer Council (EnergyWatch)
National Consumer Council (NCC)
In addition, multinational companies in different industry sector will be approached, including banking sector, retail, e-commerce, tourism, food. The companies approached include Xerox, Pizza Express, Currys and eBay. A number of law firms will also be approached.
Each student will have a work placement tutor. This person will be a member of the academic staff and will be charged to provide assistance to the student whilst he is away on placement. The tutor will have no obligation to visit the student but he/she will have regular contacts with both the employer and the student to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Project
The students will need to prepare a project which will receive a mark worth 60 credits (30 ECTS). Work for the project will start in Period 1. Students will be allocated a dissertation tutor to assist in their work. Students who wish to conduct empirical research may require the approval of the Brunel Law School Ethics Committee. Some methodology training will be provided for all dissertation students by way of a dissertation handbook and some face-to-face sessions on methodology.Teaching and LearningWe will use a variety of lectures, seminars, office hours and intranet tools to deliver the programme. Some block teaching may be used on all modules across the academic year. This is because some subjects need to be delivered by specialist teachers or because the content needs to be grouped to facilitate learning for the students.AssessmentPeriods 1 and 2Coursework: formative only
Exams: 100%Period 3For the work placement, the employer will write a report at the end of the placement, evaluating the work provided by the student and identifying the transferable skills acquired by the student. No marks will be given for the placement. The placement is only formative and devised to provide students with practical experience and enhance their employability after the award of their degree(s). It is an academic member of staff which decides whether the placement was passed or failed.
The projects will be marked and count for 60 credits marked by two academic markers.CareersAs shown by an extensive research by the European Commission, there is a lack of higher education graduates specially trained in European consumer affairs. There is, therefore, strong employment prospects for graduates who have this specialist knowledge.
Graduates from the course will have the skills and knowledge to apply for specialist roles in ministries across Europe, in national and European consumer associations and in enterprise and employers’ federations. Special FeaturesOur programme is funded by the European Commission enabling students to benefit from reduced tuition fees in the first year of operation and enabling Brunel to cover any development costs.
We put a strong emphasis on employability with work placements, and the opportunity to study abroad.
We offer an intensive training programme enabling graduates to reach the employment market fast and professionals to minimise their time away from the office.
We offer study in a consortium of highly recognised universities in Europe