Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI4H530: Research Design, Process and Philosophy

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4H530: Research Design, Process and Philosophy

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to L1I101
Tied to N2I101
Tied to N3I101
Tied to N3I201
Tied to N4I101
Tied to N5I101


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To ensure that students are familiar with the range of debates surrounding research philosophy (ontology and epistemology) relevant to doctoral level study.
  • To develop students’ ability to develop a robust philosophical position and understand the implications this has for research design and research strategy.
  • To ensure that students are aware of all forms of research design and the implications these hold for formulating research strategy.
  • To develop students’ ability to identify suitable research designs, and argue rigorously and scientifically for their appropriateness to study their research questions.
  • To develop students’ ability to appreciate ethical issues in research.
  • To develop students’ skills around thinking and writing about research.


  • Research philosophies
  • Research designs
  • Research process and writing 1: research ethics; the literature review and setting research questions; the review process
  • Qualitative research strategies: designing qualitative research projects and making appropriate methodological choices about fieldwork, interviewing, and implementation of qualitative methods
  • Quantitative research strategies: designing quantitative research projects and making appropriate methodological choices about data collection, measurement and method implementation
  • Experimental designs and simulations
  • Understanding the academic review process and learning to think like a reviewer
  • Research process and writing

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have an understanding of different research philosophies
  • Have an advanced understanding of research design issues
  • Have an advanced understanding of ethical challenges in carrying out particular research designs and qualitative and quantitative forms of research, and appropriate responses to these challenges
  • Understand issues concerning research access and confidentiality and execution of supporting strategies
  • Have an advanced understanding of research design, sampling and research strategy issues relevant to collecting or generating valid and reliable data with reduced risk of errors and biases
  • Have an advanced understanding of the process of writing about research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to skilfully design and frame research
  • Ability to critically assess existing research
  • Ability to frame interesting research questions drawn from the construction and writing of a critical review of literature
  • Ability to apply robust research designs and strategies to inform data collection or generation
  • Ability to defend chosen research philosophical position, research design and research strategy
Key Skills:
  • Ability to form a coherent philosophical position for research
  • Ability to design the research to answer a particular research question
  • Ability to design and formulate strategies for data collection (or generation)
  • Ability to dissect and resolve ethical issues and challenges facing the researcher
  • Ability to frame appropriate research questions
  • Advanced critical thinking and writing skills

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

  • The module will be delivered in a series of 10 lectures and 8 seminars over term one.
  • By commenting on each other’s suggestions students will acquire both the capability and the attitude to critically evaluate and improve their research philosophy, design and strategy.
  • Learning will also occur through tutor-supported, as well as self-support learning groups thus enabling students to develop their own effective research designs and strategies.
  • There are two parts of assessment of the module: the first is a 4,000 word written assignment based on developing a coherent specification of a philosophical position, research design and elements of research strategy relevant to a study in their chosen subject area, and the second is a 2,000 word written learning log to discuss their learning on relevant aspects of research philosophy, design, process and strategy throughout the whole module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 10 Weekly 3 hours 30
Seminars 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Self-supported learning groups (students are expected to form their own discussion groups to reflect on and share their learning about the issues raised in the module) 20 Twice Weekly 1 hour 20
Independent study, preparation and reading 234
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual Written Assignment 4,000 words 100% same
Component: Learning Log Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual Written Learning Log 2,000 words 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to submit a 1,000 word planning document outlining decisions about research design relevant to their research area.

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