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Master's degree programme in Commercial and Retail Management


Master's Degree Programme

About the programme
Language: English (See language requirements)   | Place of study: Aarhus  | Commencement: August / September (no winter intake)


The MSc in Commercial and Retail Management is based on the growing challenges faced by the consumer goods industry, and has been developed in close collaboration with prominent actors from the industry.

The degree programme prepares the student for a career in HQ functions of the consumer goods industry. It provides the student with an understanding of the industry’s specific challenges, which paves the way for a faster climb up the career ladder.

The students will acquire qualifications in areas such as retail strategy and innovation, consumer behaviour, supplier-relations and business negotiations, pricing, performance management as well as category, stock and brand management. 

Deep understanding of the value chain

Today, traditional retail trade is supplemented with e-commerce and various hybrids, and more and more communication takes place on social media. Companies must therefore be able to handle an omni-channel situation where a number of different sales and communication channels must be optimised in relation to each other. In addition, the ability to handle big data is becoming increasingly important in the consumer goods industry. This has led to changes in the relationship between supplier and retailer. The supplier must increasingly consider the entire value chain right through to the consumer, while the retailer must structure its supplier relations with an eye for how to create value for the consumer.

The traditional division of the B2B and B2C markets is thus developing towards a much-needed B2B2C mindset. The degree programme reflects this B2B2C mindset since the courses Supplier- relations and business negotiations and Consumer behaviour in a retail setting cover the entire value chain from supplier to consumer. Furthermore, the students will acquire competences within areas that have a particular focus on the consumer goods industry such as retail strategy and innovation, pricing, performance and margin management as well as category, stock and brand management. Digital transformation and the use of big data will play a prominent role in the programme and will recur in many courses.

Collaboration with prominent actors in the industry 

The degree programme has been developed in collaboration with prominent actors in the consumer goods industry. These are gathered in a founding partners group consisting of Salling Group, Arla, Bestseller, Danish Crown, MLDKKFI, Jysk and Rema 1000. The companies play an important role in the degree programme and its courses through guest lectures, internships and Master's theses collaborations. They also offer a number of relevant student jobs. Internships at the above-mentioned companies are an important part of the programme. Students are encouraged to complete an internship, and the participating companies guarantee a significant number of internship positions.


The degree programme prepares the students for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry. Based on the value chain approach, the students will be able to undertake many functions in either the supply or retail link of the value chain, especially within the consumer goods industry; from category manager or procurement manager to key account manager.

MSc in Commercial and Retail Management The MSc in Commercial and Retail Management has been developed in close collaboration with prominent actors in the industry. The companies will be offering a number of relevant student jobs, internships and guest lectures. It will prepare you for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry.

Admission Requirements

Legal right of admission

Applicants with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Business Administration (HA) from Aarhus University have the right to be admitted to the Master's degree programme in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.) at Aarhus University on the condition that application is made for admission to the Master’s degree programme no later than three years after completion of the Bachelor’s degree programme. The legal right of admission requires receipt of the application by Aarhus University within the appropriate period of time.

Bachelor's degrees with direct admission

The following Bachelor’s degrees fulfill the admissions requirements for the Master’s degree programme in Economics and Business Administration at Aarhus University but are not automatically secured a spot at the programme:

  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with supplementary subject (erhvervsøkonomi med tilvalg) at study plan 2017 and onwards from Aarhus University.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Commercial Law (Erhvervsøkonomi-erhvervsret (HA jur.)) from Aarhus University.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration (HA - general business economics) from one of the Danish universities.*
  • Applicants a Bachelor´s degree in Economics and Business Administration (HA) from Aarhus University who no longer have legal right of admission.*

* With a diploma older than 2000, your Bachelor’s degree will be assessed according to the specific admission requirements described under the section: “Students that hold a degree from another university”. 

Students that hold a Bachelor's degree from another university

Other Bachelor´s degrees can provide admission to the Master’s degree programme. When you apply the university will access if your Bachelor´s degree corresponds in level, extent and content to a BSc in Economics and Business Administration/HA from Aarhus Universitet. The assessment will prioritize the sufficient content of the following subjects and ECTS-points:   






7,5 ECTS


7,5 ECTS


7,5 ECTS

Organisation- and Leadership Theory

7,5 ECTS



Operations Management


Additional ECTS points within the abovementioned areas


Total ECTS within Economics and Business Administration


*Please note, applicants must have at least 15 ECTS within methods including at least 10 ECTS within quantitative methods or statistics. However only 5 ECTS can be covered by Mathematics.

Admission to the MSc in Economics and Business Administration for applicants with a professional bachelor’s degree (professionsbachelor)

In order to meet the admission requirements for the MSc programmes in Economics and Business Administration, applicants with a specific professional bachelor’s degree must have completed specific elective courses as part of their qualifying exam. In this table the requirements for elective courses are laid out.

Language requirements

As English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency.
Please see the page on language requirements.

Download appendix for your application

If you apply for admission with an international Bachelor's degree, you must fill in this appendix and upload it in the application portal. The appendix serves to help the Admission Board assess your Bachelor's degree in regard to the admission requirements. 

Download appendix

Restricted admission from 2022

As from the intake 2022, the Master’s degree programmes in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.) only admits a limited number of students each year. Therefore, meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the programme. 

Please note, for programmes with restricted admission special rules regarding supplementary Bachelor’s courses apply. Therefore, we no longer offer pre-assessments for the programme in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.).

Read more about supplementary Bachelor’s courses.

Selection criteria

If there are more qualified applicants than available seats, the Admissions Committee assesses each applicant based on the average mark (i.e. GPA) of the Bachelor’s degree at the time of application. Marks/grades obtained after the application deadline will not be included in the GPA. The Admissions Committee assesses each applicant’s marks based on the information provided by diplomas and transcripts.

Programme structure

Academic regulations

Below is an outline of the courses:


The degree programme consists of two semesters in the first year which cover the compulsory courses in the programme specialisation and two semesters in the last year which are reserved for the student's own specialisation.

In the first semester you follow the prerequisite courses that form the methodological and academic basis for the further study programme. The course “Introduction to Value Chain Management” will be completed with an exam in week 43.

In the second semester you follow the specialisation courses of the programme. The semester consists of two blocks of three courses. The first three courses will be ending with an exam before the Easter holidays.

In the third semester, you can choose elective courses within your areas of interest. The courses can be taken either at Aarhus BSS during the semester, at the AU Summer University or at one of our more than 300 partner universities abroad. You can also participate in internship programmes either in Denmark or abroad.

The fourth semester is devoted to the Master's thesis. You may freely choose the topic of the thesis and thereby get a chance to concentrate on and specialise in a specific field of interest. The thesis may be written in collaboration with another student or it may be the result of your individual effort. When the thesis has been submitted, it is defended before the academic advisor as well as an external examiner.

Description of courses

Introduction to Value Chain Management (5 ECTS)
When: First semester (ends in week 41)
Exam: Take-home assignment (8 hours)
Course responsible: Lars Esbjerg

Making products and services available for consumption or use in different markets typically involves a number of different, mutually dependent companies connected through value chains. Value chains should be understood as orchestrated networks of organizations that facilitate the creation of value for and by consumers. The course focuses on developing and maintaining relationships between a focal firm and its customers, channel members, suppliers, competitors and other actors in its network that are relevant for the creation of value for and by consumers. Specifically, the course takes a B-to-B-to-C perspective in order to highlight that the activities of different actors in value chains are interdependent.

Topics include:
Value creation, joint value creation in value chains, commodity chains, networks, inter-organisational relationships and value chain governance, digitalization of value chain management, and logistics across the supplier-retailer-consumer value chain. 

Consumer Behaviour in a Retail Setting (5 ECTS)
When: First semester (after week 43)
Exam: 4-hour written
Course responsible: Tobias Otterbring

Understanding how consumers select, purchase, use, and dispose products and services, and how they satisfy their desires, is pertinent to successfully managing the marketing function. Within retailing, these behaviors become even more complex, since consumers interact with a number of factors (e.g., store environment, assortment sizes, presence of other buyers) that influence their decision-making procceses, purchase patterns, and choice behaviour.

Topics include:
Servicescapes and the retail atmosphere, Future perspectives on retailing, Consumer behaviour processes (motivation, perception, attention, and learning), Choice architecture and decision-making processes, New media and technology in the retail space, Social influence, Factors influencing consumer buying behaviour, Consumer behaviour in online and offline contexts, Customer journeys and touchpoints, and Consumer behaviour methods 

Retail Strategy and Commercial Innovation (10 ECTS)
When: First semester
Exam: Two small take-home assignments + 4 hour written exam
Course responsible: Sascha Steinmann

The course introduces students to the topic of retail strategy with a particular focus on the management of innovation and current trends.

Topics include:
Store formats and their dynamics, Horizontal and vertical channel strategies, Multi-channel and omni-channel strategies, Central concepts and theories of a retail market strategy, The strategic retail planning process, Innovation and trend management tools, Current trends in retailing and the consumer goods industry (such as digitalization and sustainability).

Commercial and Retail Research Methods (10 ECTS)
When: First semester
Exam: Take-home assignment (group) + Oral 30 minutes (individual)
Course responsible: Birte Asmuss and Irene Pollach 

The course progresses from the methodological and statistical foundations taught in a typical undergraduate program in Economics and Business Administration. It provides students with knowledge of the designs, data collection, and data analysis techniques commonly used in management and marketing research, with special emphasis on the methods most applicable for Marketing Research. The course will equip participants with the advanced methodological knowledge, understanding and skills required for successful completion of the Master of Science Programme in Marketing. Importantly, the course provides students with practical skills for research design, data collection and analysis 

Topics include:
Research design, research questions, role of theory in research designs, quantitative and qualitative research, mixed methods designs, survey designs, experiments, interview data, preference measurements, factor analysis, regression analysis, cluster analysis.

Pricing Strategy (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (ends before Easter)
Exam: 3-hour written
Course responsible: Birger Boutrup Jensen

Setting the price correctly is fundamental to a firm’s profitability in a competitive business environment. Yet, firms in diverse industries implement ad-hoc rules and trial-and-error approaches to pricing that significantly reduce profits. Sustainable and profitable pricing stands on three legs: costs, competition and customer value. Some managers focus too much on costs, while others focus too much on competition. Decisions made in this way typically are lacking.

Topics include:
Pricing as strategy, Pricing psychology, Odd-pricing, Price promotion types, Price setting and adaptation, Product line pricing, Price sensitivity effects, Price segmentation, Pricing research methods, Online pricing considerations, Dynamic pricing.

Supplier-relation and Business Negotiation (10 ECTS)
When: Second semester
Exam: Two small written assignments + 4-hour written exam
Main course responsible: Peter Kesting

The business negotiations part focuses on two particular goals: to improve the participants’ theoretical understanding of negotiations and to enhance their individual negotiation and decision-making skills. The concept of the course is guided by the basic assumption that both goals can be best achieved by practical exercise. Thus, the course mainly emphasizes on the simulation and critical analysis of different negotiation settings.

Topics for the first part include:
Introduction to the nature, structure, and course of negotiations, Basic negotiation techniques (bargaining techniques, collaborative negotiation etc.), Improving negotiation power, International/cross cultural negotiations, Electronic negotiations, and Mediation and conflict resolution.

The second part of the course (the supplier-relations part) will first introduce students to sourcing in the context of retail and commercial companies and their, respective, value chains. Focus will mainly be on up-stream activities related to managing the supply base. Students will learn about the particular challenges of sourcing in a retail and commercial setting, placed in between production and consumption, and its complex dependencies with other management tasks.

The search, evaluation and selection of suppliers will be the starting point. In this connection, the emerging opportunities connected to global sourcing, use of intermediaries and e-sourcing will be key topics. A holistic understanding of the process from producer to end-consumer, which includes not just sourcing, but logistics, promotion, branding, in-store management and sales among others, will characterize the course. Managing, maintaining and optimizing supplier performance will form a key part of curriculum also. The course will also provide detailed insights into the critical task of developing and implementing strategic sourcing choices, including supply base design, supply risk management, and supplier management and differentiation. Hence, students will gain knowledge on the management of supplier relationships in retail and commercial settings.

Category, Stock and Brand Management (10 ECTS)
When: Second semester
Exam: 48-hour take-home assignment (case-based)
Main course responsible: Sascha Steinmann

The course introduces students to the topic of category, stock and brand management.

The course covers the following topics, among others:

  • Assortment planning
  • Category management process
  • Category roles and profitability
  • Category portfolio management and growth
  • Manufacturer perspective of category management
  • Manufacturers as category captains
  • Store layout and design, space management
  • Retail branding
  • Retail brand architecture
  • Private label management 
  • Distributions systems, including multi- and omni-channel systems
  • Stock control principles and replenishment policies
  • Inventory holding costs, customer service levels, and stock performance
  • Forecasting and lead-time management
  • Return processes and management of waste and obsoletion
  • Information systems for stock and waste management

Performance Management (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (starts after Easter)
Exam: 4-hour written
Course responsible: ECON

The course introduces students to the topic of performance measurement and profit management with a particular focus on measurement and the implications of decisions. The course covers the following topics, among others:

  • Planning and decision making.
  • Financial modelling.
  • Cost and profit analysis and estimation.
  • Management of operational performance.
  • Integrated financial and non-financial measures.
  • Inter-organisational performance management.
  • Incentive systems in organizations.

Student life

Learning in an International Context

At Aarhus BSS, we conduct research at the highest academic level.

All researchers employed are engaged in research projects covering a wide range of different subjects and focusing on knowledge and skills considered essential for professional business activities in the global marketplace. All faculty have both research and teaching responsibilities which means that our teaching is continually based on the latest research results.

Aarhus BSS is very internationally oriented. The broad scope of our research activities and educational programmes enable us to attract researchers, teachers, and students from all over the world, and this creates an international environment for research and learning in which academic views are exchanged, experiences are gathered and friendships are formed.

Aarhus University is a leading university in Denmark in building student exchange opportunities. The university encourages all students to spend time studying abroad. Every year, more than 700 students from Aarhus BSS go abroad to participate in exchange programmes around the world at our more than 300 partner universities. About the same number of students from all over the world come to participate in the exchange programme in Aarhus, and this contributes to a truly international learning atmosphere.

Follow the student life at Aarhus University

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With thousands of pictures #AUInternational, #AarhusUni gives insight into the everyday life as a student at AU; the parties, procrastination, exams and all the other ways you’ll spend your time at university.

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Job functions for grads

The chart shows the five most common types of work for graduates 1-2 years after finishing their degree. The data is derived from a survey made by Epinion for the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and Aarhus University in 2020.

The degree programme prepares the students for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry. The students’ understanding of the specific challenges of the industry paves the way for a faster climb up the career ladder. Based on the value chain approach, the students will be able to undertake many functions in either the supply or retail link of the supply chain, especially within the consumer goods industry; from category manager or procurement manager to key account manager.     

We want to help our students find successful careers. Students can always contact our Career Services for advice and assistance with getting onto the Danish labour market. Check out our careers page to see the range of services we offer.