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University of Exeter Business School

Research Methods

Module titleResearch Methods
Module codeBEMM049
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Ilke Inceoglu (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will learn some essential skills to carry out research into applied issues to generate insights and help inform decisions, processes and interventions in Human Resource Management. You will learn how to formulate research questions, decide on appropriate data collection methods, approaches to data analysis and how to interpret results. We will also provide you with guidance on how to undertake a major, original piece of research to prepare you for conducting your dissertation and help you write a research proposal. The research proposal is a structured plan for conducting your dissertation project and therefore an essential piece of preparation for your dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide and equip you with essential research skills to prepare you for researching and writing your masters dissertation. By attending taught sessions and meeting formally with your supervisor you will develop a full understanding of what is involved and plenty of  advice about how to proceed with your chosen research project. In addition, you will receive tailored advice that is relevant to your chosen dissertation topic from your supervisor.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate the capacity to research and write up a highly effective research proposal
  • 2. plan your research programme

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. demonstrate enhanced knowledge and understanding of the literature published in your chosen area of study
  • 4. formulate a set of relevant research questions or hypotheses with reference to a specific HR topic area

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. demonstrate enhanced research skills
  • 6. demonstrate the capacity to develop a research aim and project and write a detailed research proposal for an original piece of research.

Syllabus plan

During six three-hour taught sessions we will cover the following principle subject areas:

  • choosing a dissertation topic
  • writing a dissertation proposal
  • formulating research questions / hypotheses
  • undertaking a critical literature review
  • adhering to principles in research ethics; integrity and good practice in the conduct of research
  • introduction to quantitative research methods
  • introduction to qualitative research methods
  • analysing your research findings
  • writing conclusions and recommendations

In addition, you will receive detailed advice from your supervisor about how to develop a strong research proposal.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities18Taught sessions (2 hour lectures and 1 hour seminars)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Meetings with your supervisor as you prepare your research proposal
Guided Independent Study10Reading and preparing for the taught sessions
Guided Independent Study120Reading, thinking about, preparing and writing up your formal research proposal

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class discussion exercises 3 hours1-6Verbal
Draft research proposal 800-1000 words1-6Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In term test201 hour1-6Verbal/Written
Research proposal 802000-2500 words1-6Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
In-term test (20%) and Research proposal (80%)Research proposal (100%) (2,000-2,500 words)1-6August reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Anderson, V. (2013) Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue. Third Edition, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: London.

Bell, J. & Waters (2014) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-Time Researchers, Open University Press

Black, K (2011) Business Statistics for Contemporary Decision-Making, Seventh Edition, Wiley

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015) Business Research Methods. Fourth Edition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burke, R. (2013) Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, Fifth Edition, Wiley.

Creswell, J. W. (2012) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.  Third Edition.  Sage.

Creswell, J.W. (2013) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, Fourth Edition.  Sage.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P. (2018) Management Research.  Sixth Edition, Sage

Gill, J. & Johnson, P. (2010) Research Methods for Managers, Fourth Edition, London: Sage

Gray, D. (2014) Doing Research in the Real World, Third Edition, Sage

Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review, Sage

Horn, R. (2012) Researching and Writing Dissertations: A Complete Guide for Business and Management Students.  2nd Edition.  Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: London.

Jankowicz, A. (2005) Business Research Projects, Fourth Edition, Thomson Learning

Myers, M. D. (2013) Qualitative Research in Business and Management, Second Edition, Sage

Wevers, J. & McMillan, K. (2011) How to Write Dissertations and Project Reports, Second Edition, Prentice Hall

Yin, R. (2013) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Fifth Edition, Sage

Kumar, R. (2019). Research Methodology. 4th Edition. Sage Publications.

Trochim, W., Donnelly, J. P., Arora, K. (2016). Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base, 2nd Edition. Cengage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

You will have access to an online searchable and resources database, with links to several eBooks and our bespoke "Dissertation Support Materials" available through the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE). Within this environment, you will also be supported through online discussion forums and activities. 

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

As an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development you will also have access to the entirety of the Institute's website, including all published research reports, archived articles from 'People Management', fact sheets, discussion papers and briefings.  

Key words search

Human Resource Management, Research Methods, Dissertation, HRM Dissertation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date