Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Business School (Economics and Finance)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 100 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to N401
Tied to N402


  • Dissertation; Contemporary Issues in Financial Accounting; Financial Planning & Control


  • Accounting Theory

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To challenge students to undertake a substantial research project on an approved topic of interest and present their findings and conclusions in an extended and coherent piece of work.
  • To develop students' abilities to plan and manage their own learning at an advanced level.
  • To facilitate students' development of research skills and provide the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a specialised topic in financial accounting/management accounting as appropriate.
  • To enable students to become members of a learning community engaged in leading edge accounting research
  • To develop the ability to apply critical thinking skills to the resolution of research and practical problems at an advanced level, furthering students’ engagement with the academic community of practice and enhancing their employability.
  • To enhance students’ interpersonal skills, and their skills in oral and written communication in specialised subject areas.


  • The topic and scope of the dissertation will be decided in consultation with an appropriate member of staff, should be of relevance to financial accounting/management accounting as appropriate, and is subject to approval by the Programme Director acting on behalf of the Board of Examiners.
  • Workshop activities will address advanced issues of methodology and method, data gathering and data analysis, reviewing literature, structure and presentation of argument, academic writing.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • have acquired extended knowledge of a relevant topic of interest.
  • be able to propose solutions to research and practical problems in financial or management accounting at an advanced level.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • have acquired skills of independent research and project management at an advanced level.
  • be able to present and analyse complex data in a clear and appropriate manner.
  • be able to present arguments and conclusions in an extended and coherent form using a range of critical perspectives.
  • be able to use their findings to develop implications for business and communicate them with a business audience
  • be able to apply ethical principles in their approach to research and dissemination.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to think critically and creatively and argue coherently
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally in writing on specialised subject areas
  • Advanced skills of planning, organisation and time management
  • Use of initiative in specialised contexts
  • Ability to make effective use of IT systems, including accessing literature and other sources via electronic means and using appropriate computer-based methods of analysis
  • Ability to sustain effort over an extended period
  • Enhanced employability through the development of effective self-management and interpersonal skills to a high level, including oral communication skills.
  • Enhanced employability through the development of problem-solving and analytical skills in complex, unpredictable and specialised contexts.

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

  • Lists of relevant topics proposed by Business School research groups will be published each year. Students may 'bid' for these projects or, alternatively, propose their own topic, subject to approval and appropriate supervisory capacity.
  • Students wishing to ‘bid’ for a project are required to submit a short statement (1000 words) outlining why they are interested in being allocated to specific topic or area. A panel including the Module Leader and Programme Director will make the allocation decision in consultation with the proposed supervisor.
  • Students are not allowed to duplicate material from their level 3 dissertation in the level 4 research project.
  • Learning will be facilitated by workshops, supervision meetings and support for private study. This will include support from the Doctoral Training Unit and Business School research seminars.
  • Formative assessment will be by means of preparation of a research proposal and plan, an initial structured literature review and the keeping of a dissertation diary.
  • Summative assessment is through a research project (20,000 words maximum), a research paper (5,000 words maximum), and a DBS conference presentation and business overview of the work (1000 words maximum). In exceptional cases there may be the opportunity to present at an external conference.
  • Students will be supported through individual consultation sessions with their allocated supervisors throughout the year.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 4 Varies 1.5 hours 6
Supervision meetings 15 Initial meeting at end of year 3, 5-6 per term, by agreement with supervisor in terms 1 and 2, plus 2 meetings in final term 1 hour 15
Research Conference 1 Term 3 8 hours 8
Preparation, fieldwork and reading 971
Total 1000

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Project Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research project 20,000 max 100%
Component: Research paper Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research paper 5,000 max 100%
Component: Presentation at conference Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
15 minute presentation plus 1,000 word overview 100%

Formative Assessment:

Preparation of research proposal and plan (1000 word max), initial literature review (10,000 words maximum) and keeping of a dissertation diary.

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