Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI4I560: Research Methods and Dissertation (Management - Finance)

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4I560: Research Methods and Dissertation (Management - Finance)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to N2P209
Tied to N3K909


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with the necessary training to undertake advanced-level research.
  • To provide students with the opportunity to conduct an in-depth investigation at an advanced level of an issue which is applicable and relevant to their degree subject. The positioning of the dissertation at the end of the programme is intended to promote integration of material covered in the core and optional modules.
  • To equip students with an in-depth understanding of key principles of research design and methodology in business and management, and to develop their skills in conducting and disseminating research at an advanced level.
  • To provide students with an introduction to a variety of research methods in the social sciences, including both quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • To enable students to use a range of perspectives to critically review research studies in terms of theorising, methods and findings.
  • To develop the research skills needed to address complex problems, both systematically and creatively.


  • Introduction: approaches to social research;
  • Formulating a research question;
  • Conducting a literature review;
  • Developing a research strategy that fits your question;
  • The nature of qualitative research;
  • The nature of quantitative research;
  • An overview of data gathering methods (including interviews and focus groups, and archive document collection; survey and experiment designs; and panel data);
  • The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data (including, respectively, t-tests, correlations and regressions, as well as panel data, interview transcripts and document analysis);
  • Ethics of research;
  • Planning and managing a research project.
  • The dissertation topic is chosen by the student and formally approved by the Programme Director on behalf of the Chair of the Board of Examiners. For MSc Management (Finance) students, the topic should be in the broad area of financial management. It can be on finance itself, or on the management of finance, including the managerial consequences of financial decisions, or how to manage Finance employees, etc. There is no requirement to engage in financial or statistical or quantitative methods. For Islamic Finance students, the topic should be one that is relevant to Islamic finance/ Islamic financial management.
  • Students may choose to undertake a Business Project in place of the traditional dissertation format. This may be achieved by either working with a specific host organisation or, alternatively, by undertaking an issue-led investigation across a range of organisations on a specific management issue. The topic must be suitable for in-depth investigation, however, and formally approved by the Programme Director on behalf of the Chair of the Board of Examiners.
  • The Business Project route is theoretically underpinned in the same way as a traditional dissertation, and should normally involve undertaking empirical research, but may be a critical essay that draws upon academic literature. The project requires students to write a short literature review, followed by a detailed explanation of their selected research method, including – where relevant – detail on data collection and analytical methods, the presentation of their findings, and a short discussion of the results, including recommendations for the host organisation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should:-
  • Have a critical understanding and awareness of the nature and scope of advanced research in financial management;
  • Be aware of, and familiar with, the facilities available for conducting literature searches and obtaining relevant data to facilitate empirical investigation;
  • Be aware of relevant computer packages for conducting empirical analysis;
  • Have a critical understanding of a relevant topic and the most appropriate techniques of research and analysis;
  • Have a critical understanding of methodological issues in research: issues in designing and undertaking quantitative and qualitative research;
  • Have a critical understanding of the principles of research design proposals.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should:
  • Be able to organise, structure and manage a research project in financial management effectively, and conduct empirical/theoretical analysis at an advanced level;
  • Be able to make a critical evaluation of published journal articles and assess their relevance to a chosen research project;
  • Be able to operate independently on a research topic and exercise appropriate judgement in the selection of material;
  • Have further developed the skills of inquiry, bibliographic search, data collection, measurement and analysis, interpretation and presentation of results.
Key Skills:
  • Planning, organising and using initiative;
  • Computer literacy;
  • Numeracy;
  • Written communication of research on a chosen topic;
  • Time management;
  • Self-discipline;
  • Problem solving and analysis;
  • Written communication of research on a chosen topic to a relevant audience(s)

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

  • A combination of lectures, seminars, computer labs and guided reading addressing key topics in research will cover the subject-specific knowledge and skills together with general aspects of the dissertation process.
  • The combined summative components of the dissertation require students to write a draft research proposal, including a short literature review, and a detailed initial plan for a research method, including - where relevant - detail on data collection and likely analytical methods. Students then work independently on their research, analysis and writing up, for their dissertation, under the guidance of a supervisor, modifying their research design if necessary. Within the dissertation, students produce a short executive summary providing a business perspective on their research findings.
  • Normally the student will meet their supervisor on no more than six occasions. This is considered appropriate, given that the dissertation module is underpinned by lectures and seminars/computer labs.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 weekly 2 hours 16
Seminars 4 fortnightly 1 hour 4
Practical classes 4 fortnightly 1 hour 4
Individual supervisions as needed 30mins 3
Research, preparation, reading and writing up 573
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 12000 words (max) 100% same
Component: Research Proposal Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Proposal 2500 words 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Students will receive formative feedback on a draft of their initial research proposal and on one chapter of the dissertation.

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