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Module Overview: Dissertation Writing and Research Skills

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, students will be able to:

1. Identify, determine and justify a disciplinary-relevant project, including its aims, scopes and objectives.

2. Self-manage research, including managing the supervisory process and reflecting critically on the work undertaken to identify improvements in research and project practice

3. Understand how to identify and synthesise the relevant conceptual theory and methodological techniques from the programme pathway, using a range of sources and data, applying them to a particular topic, case or organisation.

4. Professionally present the analysis of the data and the results of the project, including drawing appropriate conclusions and providing recommendations and guidance for managerial judgements and decision making in the chosen discipline or pathway.

5. Understand the ethical request process and apply it appropriately to the research project.

1. Assessment Overview


The aim of the dissertation is to provide you with an opportunity to further your intellectual and personal development in your chosen pathway by undertaking a significant practical unit of activity, having an educational value, and at a level commensurate with the award of an MSc degree.

The dissertation is one element of your degree where you have the freedom to select what to study or investigate in your chosen pathway. Because of this, it can be one of the most valuable learning experiences you could ever go through. Most students, for instance, have used the dissertation not only to develop a detailed study of a topic that interests them, but also to learn about themselves and to produce a dissertation which fully demonstrates their intellectual and personal capabilities.

A subsidiary benefit of the dissertation is that it provides tangible evidence of your abilities and can be shown to prospective employers to lend further support to your job application.

Option 1 and Option 2

The key difference between Option 1 and 2 is the justification and use of primary and/or secondary data:
Option 1 consists of a management dissertation which includes a relevant literature review, primary data collection and analysis.

Option 2 consists of a management dissertation which includes secondary research only. There may be a separate literature review if secondary data has also been analysed. Alternatively, the findings of the extended literature review may be presented over several chapters as a systematic review of published literature, which replaces the normal data analysis chapter. The methodology chapter should then act as a protocol for the systematic review.

Assessment Overview

To pass this module, you must achieve a final overall mark of at least 50%. Failure to achieve a pass after the second attempt will result in the student being withdrawn from the course 

2. The Nature of the Dissertation Module

Required task

The Module is assessed using a single dissertation file which is due for electronic upload. 


The dissertation can be defined as a scholarly inquiry into a problem or issue, involving a systematic approach to the gathering and analysis of information/data, leading to the production of a structured report. The following characteristics are common to most dissertations, and indicate how dissertations differ from coursework.


The purpose of a methodology chapter is to provide a credible plan for carrying out your research. It is a combination of the theory of undertaking research (known as methodology) and the practical application of this theory (known as method). It is usual practice to begin with your methodology then provide your method. This chapter should be written in a very different  12 style to your literature review as your aim is to convince your reader that your plan is credible, rather than to educate your reader about methodological concepts (which they already understand) or discuss alternative views.

Note: For a systematic review style dissertation the methodology chapter should come before the literature review and should act as a protocol for the review. Please refer to the sources in the reference list by Boland et al. (2017), Booth et al. (2016), Hemingway and
Brereton (2009), and Tranfield et al. (2003).

Having made good decisions earlier in the process it is equally important that you make the most appropriate choices for the methodology section. At any level of academic research, success rests on choosing and implementing the most appropriate methods for gathering and analysing data. As an MSc Management student, you must clearly justify all the decisions you make in this section of your work and demonstrate that they are consistent with your aim and objectives. Your dissertation markers will want to see that a rigorous methodology and method has been applied.

Methodology is a combination of philosophy, approach to theory generation, strategy and choice of methods (mono, multi or mixed). It is advised that these issues should be discussed together rather than in separate sections as their choice is often inter-related. More information will be provided in the lectures.

Before you choose specific data collection methods consider the following:

What issue have I identified? What is the nature of the problem? What am I trying to understand?

Now ask yourself two more questions:

? What may I know (find out) about this?

? Where does the knowledge I wish to acquire lie, where does the answer lie and how do I actually go about acquiring it? Start reading research methods texts in order to understand the nature of your research so you can build up a convincing argument (see reference list below). Here is a list of questions you should address in this chapter:

? Are you intending to carry out primary research and collecting your own data or primary research using someone else’s data or will you only evaluate other people’s research (secondary data analysis)?

? If you are carrying out a survey, you will need to consider population and sampling issues.

? You also need to decide on your data collection technique (questionnaire, focus group, observation or interview) and mode (face-to-face, telephone, postal or online).

? How will you demonstrate that your research is rigorous, acknowledge or eliminate bias, account for reliability and validity of your research and recognise any constraints and limitations?

Analysis is often a neglected part of the research. It is understandable that much effort goes into collecting data but you also need to consider what you will do with the raw data once collected. You should discuss how you intend to make sense of your data, what techniques or mechanisms you might use to analyse the data. 

Ethical Issues

It is important to ensure your dissertation is conducted in an ethical manner. The following points offer a good checklist.
• Discuss ethical issues in collection and use of data with your supervisor
• Ensure that no harm can come to participants
• Ensure that respondents understand that participation is voluntary and confidential
• Keep data confidential: do not share it with anyone else
• Be honest and open with respondents about the reasons for the research and report findings honestly and accurately
• Be honest about your own interest in the data

• Comply with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation

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