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BM7101-60 Dissertation/Consultancy Project

Assessment Brief – June 2022

This module is assessed by:

Research Poster Proposal Presentation (10%) – equiv. 2,500 words – DUE: 30 of June 2022

Dissertation/Consultancy Project (90%) – 15,000-20,000 words – DUE: 9th of September 2022

General Assessment Details:

The dissertation/consultancy project is an essential requirement of the MA Business and Management. It offers you the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have gained across your taught modules in an extended scholarly research project that justifies the ‘Master’s’ award.

It should be based on sound academic principles, and make a contribution of knowledge to your chosen business and management topic area. It must demonstrate your ability to use learning derived from your studies to resolve a problem, answer a question or prove/disprove a hypothesis related to business, markets, or organizations.

You may choose to submit one of two types of extended research project: a dissertation, or a consultancy project:

The dissertation involves choosing an area of research interest related to the wider business and management themes covered in the MA. A dissertation of this type includes a review of current literature related to the topic and can also incorporate a field study and/or the collection, analysis and evaluation of original data. You will analyse the findings from your research to draw conclusions (and if appropriate make recommendations) within the wider context of business and management theories, models and/or frameworks.

The consultancy project connects your chosen research area to a real-world problem or opportunity for an organisation you have requisite access to. In consultation with this organisation, you will investigate the problem/opportunity within the context of appropriate business and management theories, models and/or frameworks. You will analyse the data you collect during your investigation and compile a compact and informative package of findings and recommendations for your organisation. You will also evaluate your consultancy project, critically reflecting on the consultancy process and to what extent your academic skills and your practitioner skills have been enhanced as a result of undertaking your project.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are on a pathway, your dissertation/consultancy project must relate to that pathway area (ie. Accounting and Finance, Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing). If you are on the general MA Business and Management, or the MA Business and Management with Integrated Placement, then your project can be in any area of business and management covered in the taught modules on your MA.

Specific Assessment Details:

RESEARCH POSTER PROPOSAL PRESENTATION

This assessment is a visual and verbal presentation to your student colleagues, BM7101 supervisors, and Bath Business School staff of your proposal. You will already have submitted the proposal as your formal assessment for BM7043 Research Methods, but this is now an opportunity to refine that, and present it to a more generalist audience.

The idea behind a poster presentation is to present a summary of your planned research in an easily assimilated format. It is not a wall-mounted essay or a full proposal just in the small font! It is a visual display that concisely communicates your proposal and tells the story of what you intended to achieve in your research project.

Your proposal poster should include:

  • An attractive visual display
    • Title + Images + Text
  • An understandable visual grammar
    • Easy to understand
    • Easy to follow
  • Clear headings
    • Clear order
    • Clear use of space

Your proposal poster will be assessed in the following two main areas:

Content and relevance (70%)
Sufficient material presentedCoherence of materialAdequate contextualisationClarity of approachMethodology, data collection proposal(s)
Presentation (30%)
Effectiveness of visual and oral communicationReadability of contentVisual appealSpelling, grammar and punctuation  

Presentation Event – this will be held online via Collaborate with your supervisor and the students who are in the same supervision team as you. This is an opportunity for you to share your research project ideas with your fellow students and your supervisor, and to collectively engage with and support you on this final major part of your MA.

Please submit a pdf version of your poster through the BM7101 Minerva site by 11.59 am on 30.06. 2022 This is the version that will be formally marked by your dissertation/consultancy project supervisor.

After the submission, your supervisor will arrange the presentation event with you in the week commencing Monday 04/07 and within 3 days. Your supervisor will inform you shortly.

DISSERTATION/CONSULTANCY PROJECT

Your dissertation/consultancy project (15,000-20,000 words) is an extended project that demonstrates your ability to do independent research and offers an opportunity for an in-depth investigation into a topic area that can be adapted to reflect your interests and career choices.

There are some differences in expected content between the dissertation and the consultancy project, and these are outlined further below. But some content elements are the same for both.

Common content elements and guidance for both types of extended research project

All dissertations/consultancy projects should include:

  • Title Page
    • Your title page should include the title of your investigation, your name and student number and the date. A standard title page will be provided in Minerva.
  • Abstract
    • The abstract is a short summary of the complete content of your dissertation/consultancy project. It concisely sets out the following:
      • Your research topic and why you chose it;
      • The main aim of your research and how you conducted it;
      • Your findings;
      • The key conclusions and (if appropriate) recommendations and reflection.
    • A good abstract will give the reader the full ‘story’ of the dissertation from beginning to end, like an executive summary in a professional report.
    • The suggested length for the abstract is 350 words, a maximum of no more than a page of single-spaced text.
    • You complete your abstract after the whole project has been written.
  • Table of Contents, Table of Tables, Table of Figures
    • These elements should clearly identify where sections are and what pages these start on. You are strongly suggested to use the facilities in Word to create these elements.
  • Main body of the dissertation/consultancy project in different sections
    • These are specific to the type of extended research project you choose to do.
    • Please see below for the content sections/guidance for each type.
  • References
    • It is recommended that you keep your references up to date throughout your research project (otherwise this becomes an arduous task at the end!) using something like RefWorks;
    • Serious referencing issues may lead to a fail and/or being formally reported as Academic Misconduct.
  • Appendices
    • Appendices should be limited to providing detailed information, particularly results, frameworks or concepts employed or supporting material, that are not appropriate for inclusion in the main text.
    • They provide additional reference material for readers who may wish to verify or further investigate the information you have presented in the main text.
    • You are not required to have appendices – only include them if they are relevant to your particular project.

All dissertations/consultancy projects will be assessed for ‘presentation’ (5% of overall grade).

  • Your final extended research project should be a professionally presented scholarly work.
  • Although minor grammatical errors and spelling mistakes will not be penalised, the standard expected is high.

Presentation and submission guidance:

  • Submission and file format
    • Electronic submission through Turnitin on the BM7101 Minerva site
    • Word document only
  • File size
    • There is no formal limit on file size but you should use an appropriate resolution for images, tables, charts, figures, etc. so that they are clear to see, but do not make your file size too large.
  • Referencing
    • Harvard style of referencing.
  • Font type/size
    • Times New Roman, Courier, Arial or other easily readable font is acceptable.
      • Nonstandard typefaces or scripts are not acceptable.
    • Font sizes should be 12 point for text and 10 point for footnotes and table contents.
  • Line spacing
    • All text in paragraphs should be single-spaced.
    • Headings should be double-spaced.
    • Paragraphs should have space between them.
  • Style should be consistent throughout the document, including preliminaries, end matter, table headings, figures, and captions, etc.

Specific content elements and guidance for each type of extended research project

Dissertation

  • Introduction
    • The first section of the dissertation should provide an introduction to the subject to be addressed by the dissertation research.
      • It should briefly discuss the relevant literature necessary that supports the research topic area and/or provide pertinent background information.
      • It should contain a clear and concise statement of the aim of the dissertation and set out your specific research questions/objectives.
      • It should convey the motivation for your research study and set out the focus and scope of your project.
  • Literature Review
    • Your literature review section is the presentation and analysis of the published literature that is relevant to your research topic and that acts as the theoretical underpinning for a full understanding of the context in which you are conducting your research.
      • It should help the reader have a more rounded appreciation of what you have completed.
      • It shows that not only have you discovered and reported what you have found to be relevant in the literature search but that you have understood it and that you are able to analyse it critically.
        • Remember critical does not mean looking at the negatives but forming an evaluation.
      • It acts as a backdrop against what you have done to enable the reader to assess the worth of your writing, analytical and research skills in their broader contexts.
      • It demonstrates that your knowledge of the area of interest is detailed enough that you are able to identify gaps in the existing academic scholarship on the topic, supporting the justification for your research.
      • It shows that you know what the key variables, trends and ‘actors’ are in the environment of your study, which means you know what the important issues are that need to be investigated.
      • It enables readers to be able to measure the validity of your choice of research methodology, the appropriateness of the process by which you analyse your results, and whether or not your findings are congruent with the accepted research which has gone before.
    • Published material may be drawn from all, or a combination of, textbooks, academic journal articles, conference papers, research reports, case studies, the Internet, magazine features or newspaper articles.
      • But do not forget that the most important source of academic scholarship is usually academic journal articles, which should count for at least 2/3 of the total sources you use.
        • You should ensure that you are familiar with the most recent publications in journals relevant to your subject area.
        • In this section of your dissertation, you should have at least 40 references with at least 30 of those being from academic journal articles.
          • Exceptions to this may be given when a topic has not yet received much academic research attention.
          • In this case, consult your supervisor for advice on how alternative rigorous evidence you can use to support your topic.
    • Remember that your literature review should lead and justify the research aim and questions of your dissertation.
    • Your literature review should not just be a catalogue of authors, frameworks and ideas but should attempt to synthesise and introduce a critical evaluation of those authors’ work.
    • Your literature review should lead you to, and conclude with the explicit formulation of the theoretical framework that will underpin the rest of your dissertation.
  • Research Methodology and Methods
    • The methodology and methods section presents the details of the research process. It is the way or ways you use to answer the research aim and question specified in your introduction and describes your research design in detail
      • It should answer the key questions ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what’.
      • The term ‘methodology’, particularly when employed in the social sciences, does not just mean method, but also the governing philosophy behind the methods employed.
      • For good marks, make a clear distinction between the ‘methodology’ (why you chose to do the research in this way) and the ‘methods’ (the specific technique(s) used to collect data).
    • This section should argue for, and justify each decision that is taken when arriving at how the research is to be organised.
      • Every time that you, the researcher, have to make a choice from a number of options, you must state what each of these is, why you made the choice you did, and why you rejected those not used.
    • Although the exact content of this section will vary as a function of the nature of the particular research, the methodology section should generally include the following topics:
  • Research Paradigm and Approach
    • This asks you to justify the research paradigm for your research, for example, positivism or Interpretivism? You also need to justify your choice of the research approach, for example, a qualitative study? A quantitative study?
  • Research Method
    • Different research approaches may require different research methods. Find a research method for a qualitative approach or a quantitative approach. Define them, compare them and select the strategies that in the best way to conduct your research.
  • Sampling and Data Collection
    • Define sample selection criteria in accordance with the research aim and questions and the research method you choose. For example,
      • Survey – if you do a survey, what is the size of the sample population and why? Who are the respondents and why?
      • Case studies – who are the sample companies and why? How many case studies and why?
      • Be sure to include any questionnaires or other instruments and your primary data in an Appendix.
    • Discuss the data collection methods regarding the research method. Briefly define each data collection method and rationalise your selection. For example, if you choose to do a survey so you will design a survey questionnaire.  How do you design this questionnaire? If you choose to do interviews, how do you design the interview schedule and process? What may be the potential risks in the data collection process, for example, poor response rate, inadequate answers from the interview, etc?  You need to attempt to foresee these risks and communicate your solutions.
  • Data Analysis
    • You will describe the method and analytic process you have used, your rationale for choosing it, and the various steps involved in it, whether, graphical, statistical, or qualitative.
  • Trustworthiness of the Method
    • Discuss issues such as validity, reliability, ethics, and ability to generalise.
    • Please note: do not simply follow the order of these five 5 topics as set out here. Discuss how to structure this section with your supervisor so that the content is coherent and appropriate for your own dissertation.
  • Data Presentation and Analysis
    • This section is where you draw the findings from your data and evaluate the findings.
      • It presents the evidence and the results of any primary research that you have undertaken.
      • The data should be organised in a logical order so that your thought processes and interpretation are clear to the reader.
    • It sets out your critical interpretation of your primary results and analysis with reference to the theoretical arguments and framework formulated in the literature review.
    • It is not sufficient to simply describe all the data you collected in your research, no matter how professionally presented.
      • Detailed data tables and descriptions can be placed in an appendix unless it would be impossible for the reader to understand your message without referring to them.
    • Your data analysis should offer a clear narrative to the reader, all the time bearing in mind how your findings help to answer your research aim and questions.
    • The discussion should contain your thoughtful perspective on what you have found, and in particular how what you have found relates to each research question; does it answer the question? If not, why not? You should try to highlight where there are major differences and similarities in the literature or between different groups.
    • Where a model or framework of analysis has been used or is being developed you should highlight the main relationships as well as explain the reason and significance behind the features or decisions being discussed.
  • Conclusion
    • This section is your opportunity to draw together all the threads of your work over the dissertation, referring back to your dissertation’s main aim.
    • Summarise what you have found regarding each research question.
    • Communicate the contributions to knowledge and the limitations of your research.
    • Suggest any further research that may be done by you or other researchers who are interested in the subject.  
    • You may also include a ‘recommendations’ part in this section.
      • This may be relevant for example if your work has been of value to an organisation and you wish to describe here the recommendations resulting from the research.
      • These recommendations should be consistent with the conclusions you set out earlier in this section.
    • Remember – conclusions refer backwards; recommendations look forwards.

Consultancy Project

  • Introduction and Background
    • This section of your project should provide an overview of the situation your consultancy investigation was designed to address.
    • It identifies the organisation involved in the project, its place in its wider sector, its core business and any prior relationship between you and the client organisation.
    • This section also will explain what the initial problem or opportunity identified by the client organisation was, and set out the overall purpose of your investigation.
  • Consultancy Process 
    • This section describes the process of your consultancy development. It should include:
      • Literature review
        • Define the key concepts and key theories that are closely relevant to the consultancy topic.
        • Present the theories, models and/or frameworks that may be used in identifying the problem/opportunity, analysing the key findings and making recommendations.
        • The purpose of this literature review is to set up a theoretical underpinning for your consultancy project and to identify useful theories/frameworks that might help support it.
        • Critically analysing and evaluating the literature is desirable where necessary. But it is not essential.
        • The suggested length for the literature review in a consultancy project is 2000-2500 words.
      • Contracting with the client
        • This section identifies the client’s wants and needs and clearly defines the consultant-client relationship.
        • It identifies the issue/opportunity that you will be investigating, outlining what your organisation perceives it is facing, and answering the question ‘how has the client organisation chosen to define the situation that they wish a consultant to assist it with?’
        • There should be a clear statement of the exchange of values represented by the project – what does the client need from you, and what do you need to get from your client?
        • It should clearly articulate the main principles of that value exchange.
        • It should clearly set out your own involvement in the project:
          • Eg. did you plan an arms-length investigation by yourself in the role of an outsourced expert; or, was it a much more internalised process of cooperation and consensus between you and the client organisation who may in some cases be co-workers.
        • It should also present the involvement of the client organisation:
          • Ie. who was involved in your project and what facilities/resources the client organisation provided.
      • Research methods
        • This section identifies and evaluates the selected research methods used to investigate the problem/opportunity and to collect the data.
        • The research methods selected and set out in this section need to have been feasible, manageable and effective to enable data collection to be thorough, reliable and valid.
      • Planning and implementation
        • This section demonstrates your skills as a designer and implementer of an effective consulting initiative.
        • It should set out your project plan, outlining what processes were used, the nature of the information sought and how you planned the collection of data.
        • It should demonstrate your capability in making sense of a complex blend of technicalities, personalities, circumstances and politics.
        • It should provide evidence of your ability to dissect, analyse and evaluate the situation you investigated, rather than simply describing what happened and why.
        • This section highlights your communication, analytical, and professional skills.
  • Principal Findings and Recommendations
    • In this section, you critically analyse the data collected from the consultancy process with the assistance of the literature reviewed.
      • It is where you translate the data you have collected into a compact and informative package of findings and recommendations.
      • It should explain how you translated what you saw and heard during your consultancy into a response package of feedback that could support the client’s ability to make better future decisions.
    • This section is also an account of how your client reacted to the findings and recommendations you offered, and the extent to which the client engaged with them.
      • This section will be very different between students and between projects, dependent on a whole range of situation-specific factors.
      • But a key aim in this section should be to demonstrate the perceived value of your investigation/findings/recommendations to your client.
  • Conclusion and Reflection
    • This final section is an overall conclusion to the consultancy project.
    • It should include a reflection and self-evaluation on:
      • What you have learned about consultancy;
      • What you have learned about managing the consulting process;
      • What you have learned about the technical, interpersonal and professional skills required to undertake this type of activity successfully;
      • What parts of this process represented new knowledge for you;
      • To what extent have your academic skills and your practitioner skills been enhanced as a result of undertaking the exercise;
      • What you are especially happy with in terms of project design and implementation;
      • What you might change about that process if you were given the opportunity to do it all again.

Your dissertation/consultancy project will be assessed in the following areas:

DISSERTATIONCONSULTANCY PROJECT
Abstract and Introduction (15%)Abstract, Introduction and Background (20%)
Abstract:Presents a short summary of the complete content of your dissertation which includes the research background, the research aim, the research design, key findings, conclusions, and (where appropriate) recommendations.Introduction:Provides an introduction to the subject to be addressed by the dissertation research.Briefly discusses relevant literature as necessary to support the existence of the subject of the research and/or to provide pertinent background information.Contains a clear and concise statement of the aim of the dissertation, plus your specific research questions/objectives as derived logically from this brief survey of existing literature and background information.Conveys the motivation for your research, and sets out its focus and scope.Abstract:Presents a short summary of the complete content of your consultancy project which includes the research background, the research aim, the research design, key findings, conclusions and (where appropriate) recommendations.Introduction and Background:Provides an overview of the situation your consultancy investigation was designed to address.Identifies the organisation involved in the project, its place in its wider sector, its core business and any prior relationship between you and the client organisation.Explain the initial problem or opportunity identified by the client organisation and, therefore, state the overall purpose of the investigation.
Literature Review (20%)Consultancy Process (30%)
Presents your selected relevant and appropriate references from sound quality academic sources.Shows a thorough understanding of what has already been written about the subject.Critically evaluates and synthesises the references in the context of the research aim and questions.Sets out the theoretical framework that will underpin the rest of your dissertation.Provides a focussed Literature Review that sets out the key concepts and key theories that are closely relevant to the consultancy topic.Presents the contract with the client in terms of client wants and needs; consultant-client relationship; identification of the issue/opportunity under investigation from the perception of the client; explanation of your own involvement in the project, and the involvement of the client organisation.Identifies and evaluates the selected research methods used to investigate the problem/opportunity and to collect the data.Sets out your project plan, outlining what processes were used, the nature of the information sought and how you planned the collection of data.
Research Methodology and Methods (20%)Principal Findings and Recommendations (30%)
Specifies the methodology and the process for the research with justifications for the choices you have made.Provides evidence of coherence and rigour, appropriateness of methods of data collection and clear evidence of effective organising and sequencing of work.The critical analysis of the data collected from the consultancy process with the assistance of the literature reviewed.The translation of the data you have collected into a compact and informative package of findings and recommendations.The account of how your client reacted to the finding and recommendations that you offered and the extent to which the client appeared to accept those recommendations.
Data presentation and analysis (30%)
Presents the evidence and/or results of the research that you have undertaken.Presents your data in a logical and coherent order so that your thought processes and interpretation are clearly communicated.Demonstrates the development of your analytic and critical thinking on findings, within the wider contexts of the theoretical arguments grounded in the literature review.
Conclusions (10%)Conclusion and Reflection (15%)
Presents overall findings in line with the research aim and questions.Communicate the contributions to knowledge, and the limitations of your researchMake recommendations where appropriate.The overall conclusion to your consultancy project.Your reflection and self-evaluation on the consultancy project.
Referencing and presentation (5%)
Contents must be properly cited.All references used are appropriately acknowledged.Both in-text referencing and the endpaper reference list are in Harvard style.Formally written and professionally presented scholarly work.

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