"Dragon's Den" City Marketing Pinch

Dr. Oli Mould, Department of Geography

College Excellence Teaching Commendation 2013


The assessment method for my half of the ‘Cities: Economies and Societies’ module is based around a business-marketing scenario – in which the students act as city promoters, ‘pitching’ a city to a team of investors, made up of lecturers and external people from the business world (à la Dragon’s Den, the famous BBC programme). The course material is based upon the modern modes of urban entrepreneurialism, so the assessment is a fundamental reflection of the course content. Moreover, it has been intricately formulated to offer students work-based practical experience in business-style research, pitching and delivery – and the assessment scenario is comprehensively designed to reflect that.

The whole process starts from day 1 of the semester, when I group students into ‘teams’ of 4 or 5 (allowing for some autonomous selection where necessary). Each student is given a role in the team (mayor, PR guru, operations manager, financier and marketer), and then they are assigned one of 10 cities, that I have carefully selected (I operate a ‘swap shop’ in the first week for student teams to swap cities if they want).

From the second week, students are encouraged to think about the best ways to ‘market’ a city, and the lectures, while based on a variety of urban geographical themes, provide vignettes of examples and information about city branding and marketing. They are also given the opportunity to deliver a formative presentation based on the mid-term fieldtrip to East London, so as to practice this novel form of assessment and gain valuable feedback. The students are encouraged to use creative and striking visual material, and offered the equipment to do so. I also stress that while they will be assessed on the knowledge of the academic content they convey (albeit in jargon-free terms), they will also be assessed on their professionalism and business style. So, effective visuals, concise language and even snappy dressing are actively encouraged!

The actual assessment occurs over one whole day. My co-teacher and I form the panel, and I invite two external business people – both of whom are from the urban marketing industry. The students are given a half hour slot, in which they present for 10 minutes, and then questioned for 10-15 minutes. The professional business people offer practical advice and expertise on the students' delivery, while my co-teacher and I assess the academic content and overall presentation. The whole scenario then is designed to represent a business environment, so the room, the layout and even the attire are business-like in appearance. This is done to give the students as realistic an experience as possible of a ‘real world’ business environment.

The whole day is filmed so as to provide material that can be externally examined.

Oli describes the assessment in more detail below:





See other case studies on our Assessment and Feedback page