Business Mathematics


Course Objective

Academic Skills (three As)
After successfully completing this course, the student:
• can perform key mathematical operations.
Research Skills
After successfully completing this course, the student:
• can solve real-world problems by using mathematical techniques.

KNOWLEDGE: Demonstrates theoretical and empirical knowledge concerning
the relevant areas in international business administration
After successfully completing this course, the student:
• can select and apply the right mathematical technique, specifically:
• properly use mathematical notation (both passively and actively);
• use the summation operator and product operator;
• calculate and interpret descriptive statistics (mean, variance,
covariance, correlation);
• work with the elementary principles of probability theory (random
variables, probability, distribution function, expectation, variance);
• differentiate functions of one or more variables;
• visualize implicit functions through level curves and differentiate
such functions;
• integrate simple functions;
• determine when you need derivatives and integrals;
• use vectors and matrices;
• calculate from a function the elasticity;
• find extreme values of functions of one or two variables;
• find extreme values of functions of one or two variables under a
constraint, using the Lagrange method;
• apply operations (transpose, inner product) on vectors and matrices;
• use and calculate the inverse of a matrix;
• solve systems of linear equations;
• formulate a linear programming problem;
• type formulas in Microsoft Word;
• use Microsoft Excel, including the Solver add-in, for modelling
mathematical problems.

APPLICATION: Can propose a solution to an international real-life
business problem by applying relevant theories and methodologies.
After successfully completing this course, the student:
• can read and write texts in which mathematics occurs;
• Can use standard software for solving mathematical problems.

Course Content

Mathematics is a challenging, but highly relevant topic for any
international business student. Doing business for sure means having a
vision, but it also means having the numbers right. You can’t develop a
sound business plan without understanding and using mathematics, and you
need mathematics in order to plan your stocks and trucks. In the
business literature, we see many mathematical models, for scheduling,
finance, and investments. Using such models requires a basic
understanding of mathematical principles related to multi-variable
calculus, optimization, and expectation. Further, today’s simple
calculations require basic skills in setting up and handling
spreadsheets and typesetting formulas. This course therefore also
addresses such general skills.
Moreover, mathematics is more than just calculations and numbers, it is
language. A language that is essential to understand if you want to
develop and acquire an analytical way of thinking that is not only at
the core of any academic, but also the successful business professional.
It is a first step on the path of understanding the power of
quantitative and mathematical approaches to problems you will face as a
business student.

Teaching Methods

Computer tutorials

Method of Assessment

Entry exam – individual assessment
Digital exams – individual assessment
Written exam – individual assessment
Surprise questions – individual assessment
Attendance and participation – individual assessment

Entry Requirements



Sydsæter, Knut, Peter Hammond, and Arne Strøm (2016), Essential
Mathematics for Economic Analysis, fifth Edition, Pearson Education
Additional documents via Canvas.

Additional Information

Mandatory for Binding Study Recommendation on Continuation of Studies
Recommendation (‘BSA’) in year 1.
You will work with the software packages Word (including the equation
editor) and Excel (including the Solver add-in). These programs are
available on computers at the VU campus. You may wish to purchases a
cheap license for home use at At the
intermediate tests we use the English language versions for Windows.

Custom Course Registration

For this course, a different registration procedure is applicable. You don't need to register for this course; the School will do that.

Recommended background knowledge

Active command of mathematics at high school level. It can be helpful to
refresh your skills in advance. VU offers an online summer school for
this (see

General Information

Course Code E_IBA1_BUSM
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 100
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator dr. R. Heijungs
Examiner dr. R. Heijungs
Teaching Staff dr. I.D. Lindner
mr. M.H.C. Nientker
dr. P. Gorgi
D. Frascaria

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Study Group*, Lecture*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: