Aims of the MSc Dissertation
Types of Research and Dissertation
Selecting your Topic
Use of Literature
Format of the Dissertation
Useful References for your Planning Stage
After completing the coursework assignments of the taught part of the MSc programme you will be required to complete a written dissertation of 18,000 words, as the last module of the MSc programme. As you need to produce a dissertation worthy of a pass before you will be awarded an MSc it is obviously a major and important part of the programme, worth three of your nine modules for a Masters Degree.
This document is not designed to be prescriptive, but it seeks to be supportive of the MSc participant. It explains the nature of the dissertation, outlines the expectations of the Business School for its successful completion, and gives you some guidance about planning and completing your research and dissertation.
Although the date for submission is not until Tuesday April 6th 2015 you must start the planning process NOW.
2. Aims of the MSc Dissertation
There are two sets of aims that should be achieved in the research process and completion of the written dissertation; one set related directly to you and the other to the University.
For you it is another opportunity to specialise in an area which is of particular interest to you. Your second aim will be to work with and apply some of the theory and knowledge that you have acquired in the taught part of the MSc.
For the University there are two broad aims. First, we need to be able to assess your ability to:
- specify research aims and objectives.
- plan a research project and write a dissertation
- gather information using an appropriate methodology
- collect, analyse and synthesise the data
- draw conclusions
- relate conclusions to theoretical issues
- present findings and make recommendations
- effectively communicate what you have done
- appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of your research process and dissertation by engaging in critical reflection.
- identify personal and managerial learning outcomes.
Second, we need the dissertation to be successfully completed in order to satisfy the University regulations for an award of an MSc degree.
3. Types of Research and Dissertation
The research in which you will engage should be one of four broad types:
- applied management research
- applied strategic research
- problem-centred action research
- pure management research focusing primarily on theoretical considerations.
A common feature of all four broad types is that they should be related to and developed from your MSc studies and should focus on a managerial/business issue or problem.
Applied Management Research.
This first type of research should address an issue or managerial or business problem which is likely to be operational in nature. For example it may be concerned with the monitoring, evaluation and review of an existing procedure. Alternatively it could be about gathering information from stakeholders prior to the formulation of policy or the implementation of plans. It is therefore likely to have practical application to managerial work and be concerned with the everyday realities of managing in an organisation experiencing change.
The danger of this approach is a tendency to fall back upon your technical or professional background in your attempt to identify, then research and analyse an issue or problem. This is to be avoided at all costs as you must maintain a focus on the managerial aspects of roles in an organisation and the issue or problem itself.
This research may also give you the opportunity to look at what other organisations have done, thus enabling you to compare and contrast experiences and practice and may require a survey method. It may lend itself to a case study approach of a limited number of organisations that have or are seeking to address similar issues or problems.