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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: School of Management Short Name: MANM270
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: SAUNDERS MN Prof (SoM)
Number of credits: 45 Number of ECTS credits: 22.5
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern



Assessment Pattern



Units of Assessment



Weighting towards Module Mark (%)


Regular multiple choice self test during management research component


















Reflective essay






Qualifying Condition(s)



Must obtain 50% overall to pass module.



Module Overview


The rationale for this module is:



to develop students’ transferable skills in research, information and project management, supporting other modules on the MBA and equipping them for the continuously changing business environment.  Through the dissertation it provides the opportunity to explore an area of interest within applied management (and where negotiated an organization specific project) in greater depth. The module enables students to undertake a self managed process of systematic applied academic enquiry within the domain of management.









Before commencing dissertation data collection the proposal must be approved by the student’s dissertation supervisor and, as part of this, the School’s ‘Ethical Issues in Research Form’ completed and approved.



Module Aims

This module aims to:



·                Introduce students to the stages of the research process.



·                Enable students to effectively define applied management (including organization specific) research problems.



·                Highlight ethical aspects of research and enable students to embed these in their own management research practice.



·                Enable students to contextualise applied management (including organization specific) research problems at both the organizational level and within the wider body of knowledge.



·                Highlight the main epistemological positions and approaches that are relevant to applied management (including organization specific) research problems.



·                Enable students to select, justify and utilize data collection and analysis tools that are appropriate to particular applied management (including organization specific) research problems



·                Enable students to report research findings in forms that are appropriate to both academic and organizational audiences.






Learning Outcomes



On successful completion of this module the student will:



·                Develop a structured programme of applied research to address an applied management problem based upon theoretically informed choices about the research designs, techniques and procedures to be followed



·                Recognise the importance of undertaking research ethically and have applied this to their own research practice



·                Recognise and critically evaluate different management research designs and epistemological positions and the theoretical and practical assumptions upon which they are based


·                Undertake a critical review of academic and applied literatures to inform an applied management problem



·                Locate their applied management research programme within both the organizational context and the wider body of knowledge



·                Conduct applied research in a systematic, rigorous, critically reflective manner using appropriate primary and secondary data collection methods and quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques effectively



·                Synthesise data from a wide variety of primary and secondary sources having due regard to issues of generalisability, validity and reliability



·                Report research in a format that is appropriate to the intended audience



·                Undertake a critical evaluation of their own learning demonstrating reflective practise and action planning to support future development



Module Content

Epistemologies and practices within management research



·                The importance of theory and the links between theory and practice



·                Different research philosophies, inductive and deductive research approaches.



·                The implications of different strategies for research (for example: experiment, survey, case study, action research, grounded theory and ethnography).



Developing the Research Proposal



·                Techniques for generating and refining research ideas



·                Developing research proposals to meet management (including organization specific) and academic needs



·                Negotiating organisational access



·                Ethical considerations and ethical codes



Literature Search Skills



·                Planning and undertaking a literature search



·                Use of on-line abstracting tools and databases including data archives



·                Issues of validity, reliability and generalisability



·                Uses of academic and practitioner literature



·                Critical reading and referencing skills



·                Writing-up the results of the search in the form of a literature review



Methods for Primary and Secondary Data Collection



·                Techniques for collecting primary data including: observation focus groups, interviews (structured, semi-structured and in-depth) and questionnaires.



·                Issues of validity and reliability



·                Populations and samples and the use and implications of probability and non-probability sampling techniques



·                Issues of sample size and generalisability



·                Sources of secondary data



·                The uses and abuses of secondary data



Methods for Data Analysis



·                Preparing data for analysis, including using a range of analysis software (e.g. SPSS, spreadsheets, databases)



·                Quantitative analysis techniques to explore present and understand data, including graphical techniques, statistical techniques (e.g. measures of central tendency and dispersion, parametric and non-parametric tests, time series analysis)



·                Qualitative analysis techniques to explore and understand data including pattern-matching and explanation-building.



Presentation of Research Findings



·                Differing requirements of organisational and academic audiences



·                The need for critical evaluation



Critical writing, and skills and techniques for extended writing for dissertations







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.



Keleman, M. and Rumens, N. (2008) An introduction to critical management research. London : Sage.



Supporting Readings



An up to date list will be provided in the module handbook.  In addition students will be directed to journal articles, books and web sites relevant to the topics covered as the module progresses, in particular with regard to their dissertation.









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