Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Economics, Finance and Business (Business)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Module Cap
Tied to N1KA17


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To equip students with the skills necessary to undertake empirical research, and specifically to produce a first-class dissertation or business project. The focus will be on how to identify an interesting and manageable research question, and then to answer it. We will examine what makes an outstanding research project (and dissertation), and then learn about the building blocks of successful research.


  • The nature of the Dissertation.
  • How to use databases to identify the important literature.
  • How to write an evaluative literature review.
  • Introduction to empirical research in the management context.
  • Types of research, types of data.
  • Experiments and quasi-experiments.
  • Questionnaire design.
  • Interviews and focus groups.
  • Ethical issues in business and management research.
  • How to infer relationships between measurements; practical tips on using statistical methods.
  • How to manage a research project.
  • Writing up your dissertation; what makes a good dissertation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students should:
  • have a critical appreciation of how empirical research is conducted in a business context;
  • have a critical appreciation of ethical issues in business and management research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students should:
  • be able to conduct advanced literature searches to identify important literature and outstanding research questions;
  • be able to write an evaluative review of the literature;
  • be able to conduct a Masters Level research project from beginning to end. This involves the following: identifying an interesting and practical research question at an appropriate advanced level; developing a method for answering the question; conducting the research, including managing all aspects of the research project; interpreting the results.
Key Skills:
  • Written communication; planning, organising and time management; problem solving and analysis; using initiative; computer literacy.

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

  • Learning outcomes will be met through a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion, supported by guided reading. The summative assessment is in the form of a written research proposal to provide a direct link with the learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops (a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion) 24
Preparation and Reading 126
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment 4,000 words maximum 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students receive feedback on their contributions to the workshops.

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