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Comprehensive IGCSE Business Studies syllabus

Comprehensive IGCSE Business Studies syllabus

IGCSE Business Studies is a course that provides an introduction to the world of business and economics. The course covers a range of topics that are relevant to individuals who want to understand the workings of the business world, including business organization, finance, marketing, and human resources. Students who take this course will gain an understanding of key concepts and theories that are used in business, as well as practical skills that are essential for success in the workplace. This course is designed to equip students with a solid foundation in business studies that they can build on in further study or in their future careers.

Every candidate is required to sit for two papers. These papers are further given for external assessment.  

Paper 1 Paper: Short Answer and Data Response

Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Number of marks: 80

Number of Questions: 4

Questions will be based on the entire syllabus

Paper 2 Paper: Case Study

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Number of marks: 80

Number of Questions: 4 questions based on a case study

Questions will be based on the entire syllabus

Find the IGCSE Business studies syllabus below for a better understanding on what will be covered in the exams:

Unit 1: Understanding business activity

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Business Activity 1.1 Needs: A need is something that is necessary for survival, such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Wants: A want is something that is desired but is not necessary for survival.

Scarcity: Scarcity is the idea that resources are limited, and there are not enough resources to satisfy all of our wants and needs.

Purpose of business activity: The purpose of business activity is to provide goods and services that meet the wants and needs of consumers while generating a profit for the business.

Concept of adding value: Adding value is the process of increasing the worth of a product or service by improving its quality or features.

Classification of businesses 1.2 Business classifications: Businesses can be classified into different categories based on factors such as ownership, size, and industry.

Primary sectors: The primary sector includes businesses that are involved in the extraction and production of natural resources, such as farming, fishing, and mining.

Secondary sectors: The secondary sector includes businesses that are involved in the manufacturing and construction of goods, such as factories and construction companies.

Tertiary sectors: The tertiary sector includes businesses that provide services to consumers, such as banks, restaurants, and healthcare providers.

Private sector: The private sector includes businesses that are owned and operated by individuals or groups of individuals.

Public sector: The public sector includes businesses that are owned and operated by the government.

Enterprise, business growth and size 1.3 Enterprise: Enterprise refers to the ability to take risks and create new businesses.

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is the process of starting and running a business venture.

What do successful entrepreneurs do? Successful entrepreneurs identify opportunities, take calculated risks, and innovate to create new products or services.

Methods of measuring business size: Business size can be measured using various methods, such as revenue, number of employees, and market share.

Reasons to expand business: Businesses may choose to expand to increase their market share, diversify their products or services, or gain access to new markets.

Reasons for business failure: Businesses may fail due to factors such as poor management, lack of funding, or changes in the market or economy.

Types of business organizations 1.4 Sole Traders: This is a type of business structure where an individual runs the business on their own. They are responsible for all the profits and losses of the business.

Partnerships: A partnership is a business structure where two or more individuals join together to run the business. They share the profits and losses of the business.

Private and Public Limited Companies: A private limited company is a business structure where the business is owned by a group of individuals, known as shareholders. A public limited company is a business structure where the shares of the company are traded publicly on the stock exchange.

Franchises: A franchise is a type of business where an individual or a group of individuals purchase the right to use an established business model and brand name.

Joint Ventures: A joint venture is a business agreement where two or more businesses come together to work on a specific project.

Limited Liabilities: Limited liability is a legal concept where the liability of the owners of the business is limited to their investment in the business.

Business objectives and stakeholder objectives 1.5 Business Objectives: Business objectives are the goals and targets that a business sets for itself in order to achieve its mission and vision.

Objectives of Social Enterprises: Social enterprises are businesses that operate with the primary aim of achieving social and environmental objectives, rather than maximizing profits.

Role of Stakeholder Groups: Stakeholder groups are individuals or organizations that have an interest or stake in the business. The role of these groups is to influence the decisions and actions of the business.

Internal and External Stakeholders: Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within the business, such as employees and shareholders. External stakeholders are individuals or groups outside the business, such as customers and suppliers.

Difference in the Objectives of Private and Public Sector Companies: The main difference between private and public sector companies is that private sector companies are driven by the motive of profit maximization, while public sector companies are driven by the motive of providing services to the public at large.

Unit 2: People in business

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Motivating employees 2.1 How motivation affects Labour productivity, Reduced absenteeism and Labour turnover: This topic covers how motivation impacts employee performance and job satisfaction. It explores the ways in which motivating employees can lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower labour turnover rates.

Taylor and Herzberg motivational theories: These are two well-known motivational theories that explain how different factors can impact employee motivation. The Taylor theory focuses on financial incentives, while Herzberg’s theory emphasizes non-financial factors such as job satisfaction.

Methods of motivation: This topic explores different methods of motivating employees, including financial rewards such as bonuses and non-financial methods such as job enrichment and recognition programs.

Organization and management 2.2 Organizational charts and levels of hierarchy: An organizational chart is a visual representation of an organization’s structure. This topic covers the different levels of hierarchy within an organization, from directors and managers to supervisors and employees.

Roles and responsibilities of directors, managers, supervisors, and employees: This topic covers the different roles and responsibilities of individuals within an organization and how they work together to achieve organizational goals.

Functions of management: The functions of management are the essential tasks that managers perform in order to achieve organizational goals. This includes planning, organizing, coordinating, commanding, and controlling.

Leadership styles: This topic covers different leadership styles, such as autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. It explores how different leadership styles can impact employee motivation and job satisfaction.

Trade unions: A trade union is an organization that represents workers’ interests and aims to improve their working conditions. This topic covers the role of trade unions in the workplace and how they can impact employment relations.

Recruitment, selection and training of employees 2.3 Recruitment and selection methods: The processes used to attract and hire new employees for a business. Recruitment methods may include advertising job vacancies, using recruitment agencies, or promoting from within the organization. Selection methods involve assessing and interviewing potential candidates to determine the best fit for the position.

Internal recruitment: Hiring employees from within the organization for a new job opening. This can improve employee morale and retention, as well as save time and resources on training.

External recruitment: Hiring employees from outside the organization for a new job opening. This may bring in new skills and perspectives, but can also be more costly and time-consuming than internal recruitment.

Stages in recruitment: The different steps in the recruitment process, such as identifying job vacancies, advertising, shortlisting, interviewing, and selecting candidates for the position.

Importance of training employees: Providing training to employees is essential to develop their skills and knowledge, increase job satisfaction, and improve their performance. Training can be formal or informal, and can be provided by internal or external trainers.

Dismissal: Ending an employee’s contract due to poor performance, misconduct, or other reasons. Dismissal may be with or without notice, and must be carried out in accordance with legal requirements.

Redundancy: The process of terminating an employee’s contract due to a reduction in the workforce or the business closing down. Redundancy may entitle the employee to compensation, and must be carried out in accordance with legal requirements.

Downsizing workforce: Reducing the number of employees in a business due to economic or strategic reasons, such as a decrease in demand for products or services. Downsizing may involve redundancies or natural attrition.

Employment contracts: A legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms and conditions of their employment. Employment contracts may include details such as salary, working hours, holiday entitlement, and notice periods.

Legal minimum wage: The minimum amount that an employer is legally required to pay their employees for the work they do. The amount varies by country and may be based on factors such as age and industry. Employers who fail to pay the legal minimum wage may be subject to fines and legal action.

Internal and external communication 2.4 Effective communication and importance: Effective communication is the ability to convey information clearly and efficiently to a targeted audience, using appropriate language and methods. 

Awareness of communication barriers: Communication barriers refer to factors that prevent effective communication, such as language barriers, cultural differences, physical disabilities, or personal biases. 

Unit 3: Marketing

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Role of marketing 3.1 Role of marketing: Marketing refers to the process of promoting and selling products or services to customers. 

  • Identifying customer needs: Identifying customer needs involves understanding the desires, preferences, and expectations of customers. 
  • Satisfying customer needs: Satisfying customer needs involves providing products or services that meet or exceed the expectations of customers. 
  • Maintaining customer loyalty: Maintaining customer loyalty involves building strong relationships with customers and providing excellent customer service. 
  • Building customer relationships: Building customer relationships involves establishing a positive rapport with customers and providing personalized service. 

Business response to changing spending patterns: The business response to changing spending patterns refers to the strategies and actions that businesses take in response to changes in consumer behavior. 

Concepts of niche marketing: Niche marketing involves targeting a specific segment of the market with unique needs or preferences.

Mass marketing: Mass marketing involves targeting a broad segment of the market with a standardized product or service. 

Market segmentation: Market segmentation involves dividing a market into smaller groups of customers with similar needs or characteristics. 

Market research 3.2 Role of market research: This refers to the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, its consumers and their behavior, competitors and trends. The information gathered can help a business identify opportunities, anticipate and respond to changes in the market, and make informed decisions.

Market-oriented businesses: These are businesses that are focused on meeting the needs and wants of their target market. They use market research to understand the preferences of their customers and develop products and services that cater to their needs.

Primary research and secondary research: Primary research involves collecting new data directly from the target audience, while secondary research involves analyzing existing data that has been previously collected by others.

Sampling: This is the process of selecting a representative group of people from the target market to participate in research. It is done to ensure that the data collected is reliable and accurate.

Analysing market research data: This involves using statistical and analytical methods to interpret the data collected during market research. It helps businesses identify patterns, trends and insights that can inform their marketing strategy.

Marketing spectrum 3.3 Product:

  • Brand image: This refers to the perceptions and feelings that consumers have about a particular brand. It can be influenced by factors such as the quality of the product, its packaging, and the brand’s marketing and advertising campaigns.
  • Role of packaging: Packaging plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers. It can protect the product, provide information about the product, and help establish the brand image.
  • Product life cycle: This refers to the stages that a product goes through from its development to its decline. The stages include introduction, growth, maturity, and decline, and each stage presents different challenges and opportunities for businesses.


  • Pricing methods: This refers to the different strategies that businesses use to determine the price of their products. These strategies can include cost-plus pricing, value-based pricing, and competitive pricing.
  • Price elasticity: This is a measure of the responsiveness of demand for a product to changes in its price. Understanding price elasticity can help businesses determine the optimal price for their products.


  • Distribution channels: These are the channels through which a product is delivered to the target market. They can include wholesalers, retailers, and direct-to-consumer channels such as e-commerce.


  • Aims of promotion: Promotion is used to raise awareness of a product, generate interest, and persuade customers to buy it. The aims of promotion can include increasing sales, building brand awareness, and creating customer loyalty.
  • Forms of promotion: Promotion can take many forms, including advertising, personal selling, sales promotions, and public relations.
  • How they influence sales: The effectiveness of promotional activities can influence the sales of a product. A well-executed promotion can increase sales, while a poorly executed one can have the opposite effect.


  • Opportunities: E-commerce provides businesses with opportunities to reach a global audience, reduce costs, and offer a more convenient shopping experience for customers.
  • Threats: E-commerce also presents threats such as increased competition, cybersecurity risks, and the need to adapt to changing technology. 
Marketing strategy  3.4 Marketing strategies and examples: Businesses can use a variety of marketing strategies to promote their products and services online, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and email marketing.

Impact of legal control on marketing strategy: Legal regulations and restrictions can have a significant impact on a business’s marketing strategy. Businesses must ensure that their marketing activities comply with legal requirements, such as consumer protection laws and data privacy regulations.

Problems of entering foreign markets: Businesses face numerous challenges when entering foreign markets, including language and cultural barriers, different legal and regulatory environments, and increased competition. Understanding these challenges and developing a sound international marketing strategy can help businesses succeed in foreign markets.

Unit 4: Operations management

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Production of goods and services 4.1 Production: It refers to the process of creating goods or services. It involves transforming inputs such as raw materials, labor, and technology into finished products or services that can be sold in the market.

Productivity: It refers to the efficiency with which resources are used in the production process to create goods or services. It measures the output produced per unit of input used, such as labor, capital, or raw materials.

Increasing efficiency: It refers to the process of optimizing the use of resources in the production process. It involves finding ways to produce more output with the same or fewer resources, such as reducing waste, improving production techniques, or increasing automation.

Purpose of inventories: They are stocks of raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods held by a business. The purpose of inventories is to ensure that a business has sufficient supplies to meet demand and to avoid stockouts or shortages. Inventories also provide a buffer between different stages of the production process.

Lean production: It is a production philosophy that focuses on eliminating waste and maximizing efficiency in the production process. It involves reducing inventory, improving quality, and increasing flexibility to respond to customer demand.

Batch and flow production: It involves producing a fixed quantity of a product before switching to produce another product. Flow production involves a continuous production process where identical products are produced without interruption.

Costs, scale of production and break-even analysis 4.2 Costs: 

  • Fixed costs are costs that do not change with the level of production, such as rent or salaries. 
  • Variable costs are costs that change with the level of production, such as raw materials or labor. 
  • Average cost is the cost per unit of production, and total cost is the sum of all costs incurred in producing a given level of output.

Economies of scale: It refers to the cost advantages that result from increased production. As a business produces more output, it can spread fixed costs over a larger number of units, leading to lower average costs.

Diseconomies of scale: It refers to the cost disadvantages that result from increased production. As a business produces more output, it may experience increasing costs due to factors such as increased complexity, bureaucracy, or diminishing returns.

Break-even analysis: It is a tool used by businesses to determine the level of production at which total revenue equals total costs, resulting in zero profit or loss. It helps businesses to understand the relationship between costs, volume, and profit.

Margin of safety: It is the difference between the actual level of production and the break-even level of production. It indicates the level of production at which a business starts making a profit.

Achieving quality production 4.3 Quality control: It involves ensuring that products meet the desired quality standards. It involves monitoring and testing products at different stages of the production process to detect defects and ensure that they meet customer expectations.

Quality assurance: It involves ensuring that products are produced according to pre-defined quality standards. It involves setting up systems and processes to ensure that products are consistently produced to the desired level of quality.

Location decisions 4.4 Factors to decide location: The location of a business can have a significant impact on its success. Factors that businesses consider when deciding on a location include proximity to suppliers, customers, and transportation infrastructure, availability of labor, and government regulations. Other factors such as climate, cost of living, and cultural considerations may also be important.

Unit 5: Financial information and decisions

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Business finance: needs and sources 5.1 Why a business needs finance: This term refers to the reasons why businesses require financial resources to operate, grow, and achieve their objectives. These reasons may include financing day-to-day operations, investing in new equipment, expanding the business, or paying for unexpected expenses.

Short-term finance needs: These are the financial needs of a business that arise in the short term, typically within a year. Examples of short-term finance needs include purchasing inventory, paying salaries, and covering accounts payable.

Long-term finance needs: These are the financial needs of a business that arise in the long term, typically over a period of more than one year. Examples of long-term finance needs include purchasing property, expanding the business, and investing in research and development.

Sources of finance: This term refers to the various ways that businesses can obtain the financial resources they need to operate and grow. Sources of finance can be classified into two categories: internal and external. 

  • Internal and external sources: Internal sources of finance include retained earnings and depreciation, while external sources of finance include bank loans, bonds, and equity financing. 
  • Alternative sources of capital: These are non-traditional sources of financing that businesses can use to raise capital, such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, or invoice financing.

Factors considered in making a financial choice: When making financial decisions, businesses must consider a range of factors, including the cost of capital, the level of risk involved, and the expected returns on investment.

Cash-flow forecasting and working capital 5.2 Importance of cash: Cash is a critical resource for businesses, as it enables them to pay for expenses and invest in growth opportunities. Without sufficient cash, a business may be unable to meet its obligations or take advantage of new opportunities.

Cash flow forecasting: This is the process of predicting the amount of cash that will be coming in and going out of a business over a specific period. Cash flow forecasting is an essential tool for businesses to manage their finances effectively and plan for the future.

Short-term cash flow problems: These are situations where a business experiences a shortage of cash in the short term, which can prevent it from meeting its obligations. Common causes of short-term cash flow problems include slow-paying customers, unexpected expenses, and a decline in sales.

Income statements 5.3 Profit: Profit refers to the excess of revenue generated over the total costs incurred by a business. It is the amount of money a business earns after deducting all its expenses, including wages, rent, utilities, and taxes.

Importance of Profit: Profit is important for a business as it is an indicator of its financial health and performance. It allows businesses to invest in new opportunities, expand operations, and reward stakeholders. Additionally, it serves as a motivation for entrepreneurs to continue running their businesses and generating more revenue.

Profit vs Cash: While profit refers to the excess of revenue over expenses, cash refers to the actual money a business has in hand. A business can make a profit, but it may not necessarily have cash available due to outstanding debts, inventory, or other liabilities.

Features of an income statement: An income statement provides a summary of a company’s revenues and expenses during a specific period. It includes the following features:

  • Revenue: Total sales generated by the business during the period.
  • Cost of sales: The direct costs associated with producing the goods or services sold during the period.
  • Gross profit: The revenue earned after deducting the cost of sales.
  • Profit: The excess of revenue over total expenses.
  • Retained profit: The profit left after paying dividends to shareholders.
Statement of financial position 5.4 Assets: It refers to resources that a business owns and can use to generate revenue. This includes tangible assets, such as equipment and inventory, and intangible assets, such as patents and trademarks.

Liabilities: It refers to debts or obligations that a business owes to others. This includes loans, accounts payable, and taxes.

Classification of assets and liabilities: Assets and liabilities can be classified as current or non-current. –

  • Current assets are those that can be converted into cash within one year, while non-current assets are those that are expected to generate revenue for more than one year. 
  • Similarly, current liabilities are those that are due within one year, while non-current liabilities are those that are due after one year.
Analysis of accounts 5.5 Profitability and its importance: Profitability refers to a business’s ability to generate profit. It is important for businesses as it indicates their financial performance and sustainability. High profitability allows businesses to invest in growth opportunities, reward stakeholders, and withstand economic downturns.

Liquidity and its importance: Liquidity refers to a business’s ability to convert its assets into cash quickly. It is important for businesses as it ensures that they have sufficient cash flow to meet their obligations and fund their operations.

Gross profit margin: The gross profit margin is the percentage of revenue that remains after deducting the cost of sales. It indicates how efficiently a business is using its resources to produce goods or services.

Profit margin: The profit margin is the percentage of revenue that remains after deducting all expenses, including wages, rent, utilities, and taxes. It indicates how efficiently a business is using its resources to generate profit.

Return on capital employed: The return on capital employed is the percentage of profit generated by a business relative to the amount of capital invested. It indicates how efficiently a business is using its capital to generate profit.

Current ratio: The current ratio is a measure of a business’s liquidity. It is calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. A high current ratio indicates that a business has sufficient short-term assets to meet its short-term obligations.

Acid test ratio: The acid test ratio is a measure of a business’s liquidity that excludes inventory from current assets. It is calculated by dividing current assets (excluding inventory) by current liabilities. A high acid test ratio indicates that a business has sufficient cash and liquid assets to meet its short-term obligations.

Unit 6: External influences on business activity

Subtopic Subtopic Number IGCSE Points to understand
Economic issues 6.1 Business cycle and its main stages: The business cycle refers to the natural cycle of expansion and contraction in an economy. The main stages of the business cycle include growth, where there is an increase in economic activity; boom, where economic growth is at its peak; recession, where there is a decline in economic activity; and slump, where there is a prolonged recession.
Environmental and ethical issues 6.2 Effect of business activity: The effect of business activity refers to the impact that businesses have on society, including the environment, the economy, and the community. These effects can be positive, such as job creation and economic growth, or negative, such as pollution and exploitation.

Externalities: Externalities refer to the unintended consequences of business activity that affect third parties who are not involved in the transaction. Externalities can be positive, such as the creation of jobs, or negative, such as pollution or congestion.

Sustainable development: Sustainable development refers to the practice of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This involves balancing economic growth, social development, and environmental protection.

Ethical issues: Ethical issues refer to moral dilemmas that businesses face when making decisions that may impact society. Examples of ethical issues include environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and fair labor practices.

Business responses to ethical issues: Businesses can respond to ethical issues by implementing ethical codes of conduct, promoting transparency and accountability, and engaging in socially responsible practices.

Business and the international economy 6.3 Importance of globalization: Globalization refers to the integration of economies and cultures around the world. It is important because it facilitates international trade, creates new opportunities for businesses, and fosters cultural exchange and understanding.

Opportunities and threats of globalization: The opportunities of globalization include access to new markets and resources, increased efficiency and productivity, and cultural exchange. The threats of globalization include the loss of jobs and cultural homogenization.

Tariffs: Tariffs are taxes that governments impose on imported goods. They are used to protect domestic industries and generate revenue for the government.

Import quotas: Import quotas are limits on the quantity of goods that can be imported into a country. They are used to protect domestic industries and prevent foreign competition.

Multinational companies and its importance: Multinational companies (MNCs) are businesses that operate in multiple countries. They are important because they bring investment, create jobs, and facilitate the transfer of technology and knowledge across borders.

Benefits of having MNC: The benefits of having MNCs in a country include increased employment, technology transfer, and access to global markets. MNCs also contribute to economic growth and development.

Impact of exchange rate changes: Exchange rate changes can impact businesses by affecting the cost of imported goods and the competitiveness of exports. They can also affect the profitability of businesses that operate in multiple countries.

Depreciation: Depreciation refers to the decrease in value of a currency relative to other currencies. It can be caused by factors such as inflation and changes in supply and demand.

Appreciation: Appreciation refers to the increase in value of a currency relative to other currencies. It can be caused by factors such as increased demand and changes in interest rates.

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