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The importance of project planning

Dissertation

1) Introduction

All students are required to attend a series of taught sessions and write a dissertation report based on a Masters level project carried out during their academic programme, on a theme broadly in accord with their programme. The taught sessions will be composed of scheduled lectures and workshops mainly focused on research methods, while the dissertation itself is likely to consist of applying skills and concepts acquired during the programme to the clarification or solution of a research problem or issue in the areas of study.

In the context of this module, the terms “project” and “dissertation” may sometimes be used interchangeably, but it can help to think of the project as the empirical work the student undertakes to address a research question (e.g., action research, policy analysis, gathering data, reviewing literature, conducting interviews, doing a survey, developing and testing proof-of-concepts, etc.) and the dissertation as the research report that is produced at the end. As this is a piece of academic work, a dissertation must include evidence of student’s awareness of key academic literature relating to the area or topic of study and how it relates to the issue that is addressed.

The dissertation may serve one or more purposes:

To review existing knowledge, leading to a critique, synthesis or new understandings of existing knowledge.

To critically analyse some situation, problem or issue.

To construct something novel, e.g., a new model, approach, concept or theory.

2) Module Aims

The aims of the dissertation module are:

To give the students the opportunity to study a subject, business problem or research question in depth.

To research the issues surrounding the subject or background to the problem.

As such, the module will equip the students with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to embark on their individual research project and the students will be guided through the three options available to them to complete their dissertation:

1. A desk-based research project that could be set by an organisation or could be a subject of the student’s choice, jointly agreed on between student and (intended) dissertation supervisor.

2. Or, a project that involves collection of primary data from within an organisation or based on lab and/or field experiments – topic and focus to be jointly agreed on between student, organisation and (intended) dissertation supervisor.

3. Or, a full professional internship within an organisation, during which time they will complete a project as part of their role in joint agreement between the organisation and the (intended) dissertation supervisor (subject to a suitable internship position being obtained).

As a result of this process, it is expected that the students will achieve a high level of understanding in the subject area and produce a written thesis or project report, which will discuss this research in depth and with rigour.

All dissertations – whether business projects, internships, academic research – are expected to contain the necessary research element and relevant literature survey on the topic of study.

Suggested Table of Contents

For an internship style dissertation, the larger context beyond the academically informed research question is more immediately relevant. Hence, for these types of dissertations, there may be a slightly different Table of Contents compared with a desk-based or project dissertation as outlined in the table below:

Internship (type 3)

Desk-based / Project (type 1 or 2)

 

 

Introduction (revised research proposal)

Introduction (revised research proposal)

Context

Theory

Theory

Method section (including context)

Method section

 

Results

Results

Implications (1. Managerial / Societal, 2. Theoretical)

Implications (1. Theoretical, 2. Managerial / Societal)

Conclusions

Conclusions

Appendices (if needed)

Appendices (if needed)


Table 1: Suggested Table of Contents for Dissertation
3) Intended Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of (not in particular order of importance):
The importance of project planning.
The importance of a clear hypothesis or research question.
The ethical implications of research.
The relevant empirical data and methodologies for data collection or knowledge assimilation for the subject area.
Methods of data analysis and their suitability for the intended data.
The areas of expertise or publications of the major individuals or organisations in the subject or business area.
The previous research or current knowledge in the specific subject or business area.
Theoretical perspectives relevant to their chosen topic.
The data or knowledge that they have assimilated in the course of the project.
The most effective methods of presentation of this data or knowledge.
4) Method of Learning and Teaching
The approach to teaching will be a mixed method one, where lectures, workshops, and independent guided study are incorporated into the module. All students, whether part or full time, are expected to complete the relevant taught element of the module.
Taught lectures will be spread across semester two. Initially, the lectures will provide introductions to dissertation, generic information on research methods applicable to all three options of dissertations, and other topics related to the process of producing an academic dissertation. As all of these lectures will have a generic and introductory nature, they will encompass all dissertation types and all research disciplines capturing the attention of the entire cohort of students.
As of mid-semester, lectures will focus their content and attention into providing specific details of the research methods that are applicable to different disciplines and types of dissertations, related to the programme chosen by the students. Thus, it is expected that a number of smaller-sized student cohorts will attend a number of lectures directly related to their research project, topic or discipline. In addition, more general topics such as critical evaluation of sources (developing reading skills) and research question/proposal writing will also be provided.
A series of workshops will also be run in parallel to the lectures by English Language Support Service (ELSS) on a number of business communication areas, which will be particularly targeted for those students who take a business internship based dissertation. Nevertheless, it is planned that the workshops will be open for all students, who would like to refresh their knowledge on enhancing business etiquette.
The final set of lectures will be mainly dedicated to thesis writing and related topics on this subject, such as coherence and cohesion in writing, use of resources, critical reasoning in writing, etc., which will be instrumental while producing the dissertation. These lectures will also see brief student presentations in small supervision cohorts based on the dissertation type/research area for providing peer feedback on the research topic and method chosen to pursue.
Beyond the planned lectures and scheduled meetings with their supervisor, students are required to spend their time on independent guided study, dedicating their time and attention to conduct the necessary research to complete their dissertation on time with guidance from their allocated supervisors

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