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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: School of Management Short Name: MANM269
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: GRAY DE Prof (SoM)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability






Assessment Pattern


Unit(s) of Assessment



Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)


Business simulation






Business Presentation and












Individual Reflective Report (3,000 words)






Qualifying Condition(s) 



Must obtain 50% overall to pass module.



Module Overview

The rationale for this module is:



This module challenges the student to understand better the complex interrelationship between theory and practice, and to explore the extent to which theoretical models developed in the core modules can be applied in practical, business situations.  Students will explore the extent to which organisations are aware of and apply theoretical perspectives as well as examining the validity of some of the models that have been applied in the real world.  There are two combined elements to this approach:  a complex computer-based interactive business simulation and real life business consultancies.  The business simulation is designed as formative in approach, requiring students to integrate learning from their core modules but in a ‘safe’ environment.  The action consultancy is summative, requiring students to integrate and apply learning to real business problems identified in external organisations such as private companies (corporate and SMEs), the public sector or voluntary organisations.  On the full-time programme, consultancy organisations will be identified and recruited by the module convenor.  On the part-time and overseas programmes, consultancy cases will be completed by a student team (action learning set) working within one of the set’s organisations.  While one aim of the module is the development of consultancy and problem-solving skills, another is getting students to reflect on the experiences (positive and challenging) of working within a consultancy team.



The Action Consultancy provides opportunities for the three stakeholders - the SoM, the MBA students and the external organisations to gain mutual benefits, namely:



School of Management


·                Developing a unique theme/methodology within the MBA programme



·                Developing a relationship with key external organisations



·                Better marketing opportunities for the MBA












·                Reduces (although does not eliminate) dangers of plagiarism



MBA students


·                The opportunity to gain deeper understanding of real world issue within live contexts



·                The chance to learn how the change management agenda impacts across an organisation in complex ways



·                The development of teamwork approaches to evaluating real world problems



·                Potential access to a live case study for the final dissertation



External consultancy organisations


·                Formative and summative feedback from MBA students on real problems



·                Challenges to accepted ideas and the provision of potentially new and innovative perspectives



‘Free’ consultancy from those students who base their final dissertations on organisations identified through the Action Consultancies








Module Aims

This module aims to:



The aims of the Action Consultancy module are to provide students with an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge gained in core MBA modules to real world cases.  Above all, it provides an opportunity and challenge to understand the complex inter-relationship between theory and practice – to explore the extent to which organisations are aware of and apply theoretical perspectives, as well as examining the validity of models that have been applied in the real world.  One of the key strengths of an MBA student should be the ability to understand, not only the range of theories and models available, but the challenges of applying them in a world of complexity and ambiguity.



Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:



Applied from the complete range of MBA modules – as befits an integrative module such as this:



·                Understand and apply the principles of action learning within the process of action learning sets



·                Develop a critical awareness of the complex relationship between theoretical models and organisational practice



·                Identify the features that contribute to the successful application of theoretical models within organisations



·                Evaluate organisational problems in the light academic theory



·                Use theoretical perspectives, analyse Action Consultancy data to identify alternative approaches



·                Acquire an understanding of concepts and skills involved in undertaking and successfully delivering any form of business consultancy project



·                Design appropriate frameworks to manage business consultancy assignment



·                Make rapid decisions in a rapidly changing business environment (Business Simulation) 



·                Become more self-aware and reflective and recognise/value the contribution of others



·                Negotiate the consultancy brief (problem specification) with the client, taking into account timing and resource issues



·                Present findings to the client in an effective and engaging manner



·                Work effectively in teams through learning how to listen, negotiate, persuade and influence others



·                Acquire consultancy skills  in problem diagnosis and analysis



Module Content

 Introduction to the Action Consultancies



·                Reflective learning



·                Developing as a reflective manager



·                The nature and challenge of action consultancies



An introduction to action learning



·                Definitions of action learning



·                Puzzles versus problems



·                The focus of action learning



·                Contracting within the team



Processes in Action Learning



·                The action learning cycle



·                The set process



·                Understanding group dynamics



Introduction to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator



·                Calculating the MBTI profile



·                Finding ‘best fit’ for the MBTI



·                Implications of MBTI profile for working in teams



·                MBTI dynamics



Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Management Consulting 



·                Models  of Consultancy



·                Consultancy styles 



·                Understanding the role of the Consultant and the Consultancy Process



·                Frameworks and tools of Consulting diagnosis



·                Elements of the Consultancy report



 Ethical Consulting



·                Principles for ethical consultancy



·                     Code of behaviour


















Methods of Teaching/Learning



Teaching and Learning Strategy



The teaching and learning methods include:



·                Presentations by external clients and Q&A sessions



·                Workshop activities and peer group exercises



·                Peer group action learning sessions



·                Visits to organisations



·                Self-directed learning through:



o               Reading



o               ULearn



The importance of learning and developing teamwork is stressed.  Hence, consultancy teams are taught and practice action learning methodology.  If team dynamics become negative, the module facilitator will step in and engage the set in exercises designed to develop group cohesion.



Assessment Strategy



The Business Simulation is formative in nature, developing a range of problem analysis and team working skills that are essential for the consultancy element of the module.  The Business Presentation and Report have a strong practical component and require students to not only analyse complex business problems, but identify and justify solutions and recommendations to the business client(s).  The Individual Reflective Report requires a more theoretical approach and engagement with the literature.  Hence the student is required to illustrate and justify the business models and tools used to analyse the case and to reflect (with reference to the appropriate literature) on the workings of the consultancy team.



In order to achieve the threshold standard for the award of credits for this module, the student must meet the following criteria related to the learning outcomes described above:



·                Knowledge and Understanding.  Demonstrating a robust and wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of the various theoretical perspectives across core subject and their application within organisational contexts



·                Professional, practical and transferable skills.  Demonstrating a practical ability to work in a group; communication and presentation skills, research skills.  Demonstrating negotiation and consulting skills in accessing information from Case Study ‘clients’



Intellectual and cognitive skills.  Demonstrating critical thinking and an ability to evaluate and select from alternative theoretical perspectives.  The ability to apply and justify selected approaches to an identified business consultancy issue.






Methods of Teaching/Learning

 Teaching and learning strategy



Management Research Component



The teaching and learning strategy for the Management Research component of the module is designed to encourage students to think critically about the different stages of the research process and to engage in evaluating the different research methods and techniques.  It will include:



1.             Lectures delivered by the module tutors designed to develop an understanding of theory.



2.             Student-led class discussions of mini case studies and research scenarios to put theory into application and transform the acquired knowledge into practice. 



3.             Statistics, computer lab tutorials in which students will be introduced to and trained on the basics of conducting quantitative data analysis using SPSS.



Each session will be supported by detailed self directed learning:



1.             Preparatory reading with questions to guide students’ note taking.



2.             Follow up exercises to consolidate students’ learning, where appropriate applying this to new situations and including action learning.



3.             Guided further reading to enable students to extend their knowledge and understanding.



The University’s virtual learning environment (ULearn) will be used to support student learning by providing them with, alongside teaching materials, formative self assessment test materials and additional resources and links to useful websites.





Dissertation Component



The teaching and learning strategy for the Dissertation component builds upon the Management Research component. It is designed to allow the students to take responsibility for their own learning and progress, supported by individual supervision during which students will be able to explain, discuss and refine their particular ideas (including organization specific research problems) with their supervisor through regular supervision. The regularity, timing and arrangements for these will be agreed between the supervisor and the student at the start of the period of research. Early in the supervision process, the students will discuss, refine and agree, via a formative research proposal the objectives of their applied research, the arrangements for fieldwork, the development of research instruments and ethics. This will be formatively assessed by the supervisor, the student having to successfully complete their proposal before formally proceeding with their dissertation.  Students are required to complete an ‘Ethical Issues in Research Form’ before commencing data collection.  The supervisor will also comment on one draft chapter and, in addition, one complete draft of the students’ work.



Assessment Strategy:



Assessment for will be in four parts:



Regular tests to self assess their knowledge, understanding and application during the Management Research component (formative), Research proposal (formative), a dissertation (90%) and a reflective essay (10%). Students will not be allowed to commence data collection until their research proposal has been approved by their dissertation supervisor and, as part of this, the School’s ‘Ethical Issues in Research Form’ completed and approved.



Research Proposal



The research proposal for the students’ dissertations should be no more than 2500 (plus 10%) words. It is intended to be formative, helping the students to ensure that they have a valid and viable dissertation. Students will not be allowed to proceed further with their dissertation until they have successfully completed their proposal.



It will be assessed by the supervisor against the following criteria.



·                Extent to which the subject falls within the subject matter of the MBA



·                Extent to which the working title represents the dissertation subject



·                Organizational and academic contexts and links to appropriate literature



·                Clarity of research objectives



·                Feasibility of method or methods that will be adopted to achieve the dissertation  objectives including issues of access



·                Research ethics



·                Appropriateness of the intended time scale and resources required






The dissertation should be no more than 14000 (plus 10%) words falling within the subject matter of the MBA. It should have a clear applied focus and should be an ordered, critical exposition of knowledge providing evidence that the students have met the learning outcomes for the module outlined above.



The dissertation is the application of relevant theories and concepts to a managerial or organisational issue, where practical recommendations arise from the interactions between theories and concepts from the literature and the data collected. It can therefore, for example, be based within an organisation, a number of organisations or look at an issue across a variety of organisations.  The dissertation will be assessed against the following criteria:



·                Originality and relevance (20%): For example, thoroughness and coherence of literature review; critical examination and evaluation of the current business context using academic frameworks (concepts/ business models); identification of the main research problem; its relevance and implications; originality and creativity etc.



·                Structure, Argument and Focus (20%):  For example, clarity and definition of research objectives; use or development of appropriate conceptual frameworks and  application of  academic knowledge to the existing problem; logical development; continuity of themes;  coherence and structure of arguments; use of evidence to support arguments, etc.  



·                Method and findings (25%): For example: critical evaluation of available research approaches and methods; selection of method appropriate to research objectives; selection of analytical techniques appropriate to data collected; validity, reliability and generalisability of findings obtained and relevance to research questions, etc.



·                Insight and understanding (25%): For example: critical analysis, evaluation and application (rather than mere description) of results; interpretation of key findings; justifiability of conclusions and /or solutions to the problem identified; strategic action plan and recommendations for implementation; implications for management practice; recognition of limitations; suggestions for future research, etc.



·                General presentation (10%): For example: executive summary; style, structure and layout; appropriate use of tables, diagrams, appendices; style of referencing etc.



Reflective essay



The purpose of the reflective essay is to encourage students to engage in experiential and reflective learning and to relate their learning from the dissertation to their work role and/or personal development. The essay should be no more than 1000 (plus 10%) words in length. It will be assessed against the following criteria:



·                Critical evaluation of learning through their dissertation and demonstration of reflective practise



·                Provision of evidence to support the analysis



·                Action planning for future personal and/or career development



·         Application of reflective practice literature to the analysis





Selected Texts/Journals



Essential Readings



Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students, 5th edn. London : Prentice Hall.



Recommended Readings



Bryman, A. and Bell , E. (2007) Business Research Methods, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Coghlan D. and Brannick, T. (2010) Doing Research in Your Own Organization. 3rd edn. London : Sage.



Gray, D. (2009) Doing Research in the Real World. 2nd edn. London : Sage.



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