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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23
No such Code for pgprog: N3K909
No such Code for pgprog: N2P090

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4I460: Research Methods and Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to N2P209 Management (Finance)
Tied to N3K909
Tied to N2P109 Management
Tied to N2P309 Management (Entrepreneurship)
Tied to N2P090
Tied to N2PA09 Human Resource Management


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with the necessary training to undertake advanced-level research.
  • To provide students with the opportunity to conduct an in-depth investigation at an advanced level of an issue which is applicable and relevant to their degree subject. The positioning of the dissertation at the end of the programme is intended to promote integration of material covered in the core and optional modules.
  • To equip students with an in-depth understanding of key principles of research design and methodology in business and management, and to develop their skills in conducting and disseminating research at an advanced level.
  • To provide students with an introduction to a variety of research methods in the social sciences, including both quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • To enable students to use a range of perspectives to critically review research studies in terms of theorising, methods and findings.
  • To develop the research skills needed to address complex problems, both systematically and creatively.
  • The dissertation should be theoretically underpinned and should normally involve undertaking empirical research, but may be a critical essay that draws upon academic literature.
  • To provide students with the opportunity to undertake research abroad at a partner University.


  • Introduction: approaches to social research
  • Formulating a research question
  • Conducting a literature review
  • Developing a research strategy that fits your question
  • The nature of qualtitative research
  • The nature of quantitative research
  • An overview of data gathering methods (including interviews, questionnaires and experiments, focus groups, surveys and experiment designs, and panel data)
  • The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data (including, respectively, t-tests, correlations and regressions, as well as panel data, interview transcripts, and document analysis)
  • Ethics of research
  • Planning and managing a research project.
  • The dissertation topic is chosen by the student and formally approved by the Programme Director on behalf of the Chair of the Board of Examiners. For MSc Management (Finance) students, the topic should be in the broad area of financial management. It can be on finance itself, or on the management of finance, including the managerial consequences of financial decisions, or how to manage finance employees, etc. There is no requirement to engage in financial or statistical or quantitative methods.
  • Students may choose to undertake a Business Project in place of the traditional dissertation format. This may be achieved by either working with a specific host organisation or, alternatively, by undertaking an issue-led investigation across a range of organisations on a specific management issue. The topic must be suitable for in-depth investigation, however, and formally approved by the Programme Director on behalf of the Chair of the Board of Examiners.
  • The Business Project is theoretically underpinned in the same way as a traditional dissertation, and should normally involve undertaking empirical research, but may be a critical essay that draws upon academic literature. The project requires students to write a short literature review, followed by a detailed explanation of their selected research method, including - where relevant - detail on data collection and analytical methods, the presentation of their findings, and a short discussion of the results, including recommendations for the host organisation.
  • In producing the dissertation, students will make use of and manage library facilities, databases and other learning resources.
  • Before going abroad, students attend information briefings on undertaking their dissertation abroad and are assisted with the application process by the MSc Study Abroad team. In addition, students are monitored and supported by the MSc Study Abroad team while abroad, and have a mentor from the partner institution.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should:
  • Have a critical understanding and awareness of the nature and scope of advanced research in management.
  • Be aware of, and familar with, the facilities available for conducting literature searches and obtaining relevant data to facilitate empirical investigation.
  • Be aware of relevant computer packages for conducting empirical analysis, selecting and applying the appropriate package for the task in hand.
  • Have a critical understanding of a relevant topic and the most appropriate techniques for research and analysis.
  • Have a critical understanding of methodological issues in research; issues in designing and undertaking quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Have a critical understanding of the principles of research design proposals.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should:
  • Be able to organise, structure and manage a research project in business and management effectively, and conduct empirical/theoretical analysis at an advanced level.
  • Be able to make a critical evaluation of published journal articles and assess their relevance to a chosen research project.
  • Be able to independently design, conduct and project manage a research topic and exercise appropriate judgement in the selection of material.
  • Have further developed the skills of inquiry, bibliographic search, data collection, measurement and analysis, interpretation, and presentation of results.
  • To be able to effectively organise, structure and manage a research project at an advanced level, including undertaking critical appraisal of relevant literature, and apply critical judgement and discrimination.
Key Skills:
  • Written Communication
  • Planning and Organising
  • Problem Solving and Analysis
  • Using Initiative
  • Numeracy
  • Computer Literacy
  • Self-discipline, time management and the ability to work autonomously

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • A combination of lectures, seminars (including computer labs or practical sessions as appropriate), and guided reading addressing key topics in research will cover the subject-specific knowledge and skills together with general aspects of the dissertation process.
  • Formative assessment on this module requires students to write a 2500 word draft research proposal, including a short literature review, and a detailed initial plan for two research methods (qualitative and quantitative), including - where relevant - detail on data collection and likely analytical methods.
  • Students select a topic for their dissertation, which is approved by the Board of Examiners. The topic should involve the analysis of a relevant management issue in some depth, demonstrating a critical understanding of the relevant theory and its applications.
  • Students work independently on their research, analysis and writing up, under the guidance of a supervisor. For students undertaking a dissertation abroad with an approved partner, additional local mentoring will form part of the supervisory support.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 weekly 2 hours 16
Seminars and Practical Classes 4 weekly 2 hour 8
Supervision Meetings 3 hours 3
Research, Preparation, Analysis and Writing 573
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 12,000 words max 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Students receive feedback on the initial research proposal and, during the dissertation itself, as part of the supervisory process, on one draft of one chapter/section of their dissertation.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University