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Unit of study_

ITLS6201: Global Distribution Strategy

This unit provides students with an understanding of global distribution strategy and the management of international freight, including express, freight forwarding, rail, trucking, air freight and ocean shipping. The unit covers underlying supply chain drivers of international trade flows and the demand for capacity in different distribution channels and freight transportation modes, as well as industry structure, institutional environment, customs and global market participation strategies. Building on this background, the unit equips students with strategic tools for profitable international logistics operations. The unit focuses on corporate strategies around fleet and network planning, entrepreneurship, business model and value chain analysis, revenue and cost management, as well as competitive strategy and negotiation in the B2B and B2C contexts. The material covered in the unit considers recent developments in global and regional economic activity, technological and environmental advancements and discusses implications for the various sectors and stakeholders in global distribution chains. This unit involves case studies, industry presentations and analysis from the perspectives of shippers, airlines, wholesalers, retailers, end customers, regulatory bodies and investors.


Academic unit Transport and Logistics Studies
Unit code ITLS6201
Unit name Global Distribution Strategy
Session, year
Semester 1, 2021
Attendance mode Normal evening
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

ITLS6101 or TPTM6440
ITLS5020 or ITLS5000 or ITLS5250 or TPTM5001
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Rico Merkert,
Lecturer(s) Rico Merkert ,
Michael Bell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Individual report
45% Week 06
Due date: 15 Apr 2021 at 08:00

Closing date: 22 Apr 2021
4000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Group case presentation
15% Week 08
Due date: 28 Apr 2021 at 18:00

Closing date: 29 Apr 2021
12 slides per group
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Presentation group assignment GSC group presentation
Slides and oral presentation of each student (individual and group marks)
40% Week 11 20-30 minutes per group
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?

GSC group presentation: In the group supply chain design exercise, students will be divided into groups and each group will be assigned a product for which they will design a supply chain strategy. Each student will be required to present for 5 minutes. The presentation should be 6 slides each + 2 slides group summary. Each group will be required to make well-founded decisions on mode of transport, storage arrangements, the locations for activities, as well as on whether and if so how to outsource logistics.

Individual report: Students will prepare a report related to international trade, regulation of the air cargo or shipping business, fleet planning, network management, revenue management, cost management, or some other aspect of the global distribution business. Students can choose from two possible topics to be provided by the lecturer (during the first class). 

Group case presentation: 12 slides per group. Students will discuss and present in groups a case related to the global freight and logistics business. They will provide their views on questions such as: What went wrong in that particular case, what went well and what can be improved. They will also have to discuss the potential limitations of the case and as to whether the case realistically reflects what happens in practice.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school. 


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The Assessment Procedures 2011 provide that any written work submitted after 11:59pm on the due date will be penalised by 5% of the maximum awardable mark for each calendar day after the due date. If the assessment is submitted more than ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded. However, a unit of study may prohibit late submission or waive late penalties only if expressly stated below.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 S1. Introduction: the world economy, freight requirements, modal options, global value chains, players and their assets, distribution channels and business models; S2. Strategic Management and global distribution Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 02 S3. Strategic investment analysis in logistics infrastructure and understanding the drivers of demand for freight transportation capacity; S4. Trade as a strategic opportunity from a business perspective Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 03 S5. Freight forecasting and the gravity model of international trade; S6. Designing global supply chains (introduce the projects) Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 04 S7. Access and regulatory challenges and global market participation strategies; S8. Industry structure and performance of the air cargo business Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 05 S9. Trade finance and documentation; S10. Insurance and hedging Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 06 Week 06 (Thu, 15 April) S11. Intermodal (container) supply chains and markets; S12. Bulk supply chains, energy trades and markets Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 07 S13. Routing and scheduling in logistics; S14. Hub location in logistics Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 08 S15. Global freight forwarder/integrator case S16. Green distribution and logistics Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 09 S17. Automation, industry 4.0 and IoT in logistics; S18. Risk mitigation in global supply chains Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 10 S19. Standards, tracking and tracing and e-freight; S20. Visibility in global distribution chains Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 11 S21&22. Global supply chain design/strategy presentations Seminar (3 hr)  
Week 12 S23. Revision Seminar (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

All lectures and seminars are recorded and will be available on Canvas for student use. Please note the Business School does not own the system and cannot guarantee that the system will operate or that every class will be recorded. Students should ensure they attend and participate in all classes.

Please note that at this stage we plan to have most of this unit delivered online (zoom live sessions). The first day and the final day will be face to face sessions on campus and in parallel also zoom sessions for those students who are unable to physically join us.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

There is no required textbook but the recommended readings for this unit are:

Merkert R, Van de Voorde E, and de Wit J (2017) Making or breaking - Key success factors in the air cargo market Journal of Air Transport Management, 61, 1-5. ( )

Harrison, A., Van Hoek, R., Skipworth, H. and Aitken, J. (2019). Logistics Management and Strategy: Competing through the Supply Chain, 6th Edition, Pearson.

Stopford M. (2009): Maritime Economics, 3rd ed., Routledge.

UNCTAD (2020): Review of Maritime Transport 2020, available at:

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Analyse the complexities of the global distribution and international freight business (aviation, shipping, and intermodal) and explain the factors that impact most on the workings of the industry
  • LO2. Apply theoretical concepts of strategic management to the core issues faced by global supply and distribution chains (challenges but also opportunities for growth and innovation)
  • LO3. Critically analyse links between strategic, tactical, and operational perspectives in problem-solving and decision making in internationally operating logistics and transport businesses
  • LO4. Identify key elemental differences in international freight business models and distribution chanels using appropriate analytical tools. Successfully employ datasets to make informed choices related to these different transportation providers
  • LO5. Demonstrate acquired communication and vital team working skills through class presentations and a global supply chain design group exercise

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
This is the first time this unit has been offered


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