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Writing a Master's Thesis Proposal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Demonstrating Knowledge and Understanding

1.    Demonstrate the following knowledge and understanding:
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key issues in your subject area by appropriate current academic discourse and debate can be applied to integrate theory and practice to ensure specific objectives and targeted outcomes are informed by current research.
2.    Demonstrate the following skills and abilities: 
Demonstrate effective self-management in terms of planning, behavior, motivation, individual initiative and enterprise in order to meet the demands of a graduate of your subject area whilst taking responsibility for personal learning and continuous professional development. In so doing, apply current thinking in your subject area to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively.    

What am I required to do in this assignment?

Your assessment is a 1000 (+/- 10%) word individually written proposal on a subject of your own choice in agreement with your supervisor, and a detailed plan which you will create fter discussion with your academic supervisor. In Assessment 1, you are required to produce a written proposal and execution plan for your dissertation that will identify those activities that contribute directly to the acquisition, application and generation of knowledge and skills within your chosen project. Consideration at this stage will need to be given to the selection of a research topic that is of a Masters level, and relevant to your specific Master’s degree. Your topic would need to be approved by the research supervisor. The integration of relevant research activities needed to support your chosen topic is another primary focus.The ethics form needs to be submitted and passed at this stage before you proceed with any data collection and analysis.

What do I need to do to pass? (Threshold Expectations from UIF)

In order to pass Assessment 1 you will need to:
•    Identify a topic of interest that meets the requirements of a research dissertation or a live project-based dissertation and which is appropriate to your award title
•    Set realistic and achievable research objectives
•    Demonstrate evidence by presenting a conceptual framework with reference to theories/concepts
•    Suggest research methodology by reference to literature on research methodology
•    Be aware of ethical issues as demonstrated by the submission of an approved Ethics form

How do I produce high quality work that merits a good grade?

We will be filling this section in together in class on 00/00/0000 make sure you have downloaded/printed out the Assignment Brief and bring it to the session with you.
Your individual proposal is due in week 3 and the submission should include:
•    Topic to be considered for your area of research
•    Ethical consideration (including completion of your Ethics Form)
•    Your research question(s) and objectives 
•    Outline of issues to be considered and research activities to be undertaken
•    Research methodology
•    Suggested primary and/or secondary research to be considered
•    Outline of potential findings
•    Research plan of activities and timings

Demonstrating Skills and Abilities

The following points should be observed:
We suggest that you avoid writing in the first person (“I”); rather the third person is recommended (e.g. it can therefore be suggested that...).You may include headings and subtitles and a contents page if you feel this will help you to stay focused and create clearer sign-posting for the reader.The proposal needs to demonstrate an understanding of the key issues of your debate (derived from your research) and ownership of the work resulting in a critical conclusion. The main assessment criteria are listed in your Unit Handbook.
The following format/structure should be observed for your proposal:
1.    Introduction
a.    Establish the scope of your project (covering research questions, aim and objectives)

2.    Brief literature review
a.    List the main aspects of your literature review and explain why these are relevant to your research. 

3.    Research methodology
a.    Identify aspects of your research methodology (i.e. approaches, methods, data collection, sampling (if applicable) and data analysis). 
b.    Explain the ethical issues considered (if any) 
c.    List and explain your expected sources of information

4.    Potential outcomes
a.    Summarise what you expect to find or add to the knowledge gathered from previous work.
b.    Draw the key points together and consider potential outcomes. 

5.    Key References 
a.    The references should comprise a variety of sources used in the text, most of which should be academic journal articles.  Other sources could include books, trade publications, news articles, industry reports, company websites etc.
b.    Harvard referencing style is compulsory!

N.B. You will also need to complete and submit the appropriate Ethics Form – 2 versions are posted on BREO – one is to be used for Primary research, and the other is to be used for Non-primary research. The Ethics Form need to be approved by the Business School’s Ethics Committee.

Mitigation against high risk assessments: 
In order to ensure that students submit their own original work, the nature of the two assessments are such that the majority of the student output is very closely related to original creative development and actual performance making it difficult for a student either to resort to contract plagiarism or copying from their peers. The elements of assessment that most lend themselves to contract plagiarism might be the written reports, but the creative and original nature of these and the level of challenge of the tasks undertaken make it unusual for students to be able to pass off someone else’s work as their own. In any case, the teaching team reserve the right to demand examination by viva voce and all written work is submitted through BREO. 

Note: SafeAssign will be used for all submissions to check for plagiarism. We also reserve the right to initiate a viva voce examination if we have concerns regarding the originality of your submission. Dates of the Viva will be provided during the induction week. You need to be available for such an event following the submission of your dissertation.

How does assignment relate to what we are doing in scheduled sessions?

Please refer to the PAP5: Be More Prepared for Successful Research schedule. There are 10 hours of teaching content provided in the first two weeks of the dissertation unit; 6 in the first week and 4, one for each teaching week. They cover a range of themes including: topic selection, research background, aim, objectives and justification/rationale; efficient use of learning resources, source evaluation, and managing information for a dissertation and How to improve your proposal.

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