Methods and Techniques for Independent Research

Module description

This module prepares students for conducting or commissioning independent research in the workplace. It provides instruction on the complex processes and practices of conducting research from the initial idea to reporting results. The module examines the principles of research design before progressing to a more detailed treatment of data collection and analysis associated with widely-used methods. This module is accessible to all students with an interest in conducting their own primary empirical research in management studies.

Additional Information:


Although not an explicit or overt concern for this module, the module encourages students to think critically about the processes and practices involved in producing new knowledge, the use of data to substantiate positions, and the contestability of evidence, all of which are vital to understanding discourses surrounding sustainable development.


This module is designed to be delivered to students from a wide range of international backgrounds.


This module is concerned with advancing students’ knowledge and understanding of a wide range of methodological issues as related to the main data collection and analytical techniques used in professional research in business and management. The module aims to equip students to engage with ‘real world’ research problems. 

Ethics and Corporate Responsibility

For the conduct of empirical research in the social sciences, ethics is a major issue. Ethics and integrity in research is considered in this module as both an overt topic in the curriculum and as a feature of each method of data collection and analysis. This module makes students aware of, standard ethical frameworks for the conduct of research in the social sciences, such as that of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Research in Teaching

This module makes extensive use of data sets and survey instruments that have been developed by the teaching staff as part of their research grants and contract research assignments. These ‘real life’ examples are intended to demonstrate that the principles of research are not always straightforward to apply in practice, and they create a series of dilemmas which researchers must apply critical reasoning to resolve.

Full module specification

Module title:Methods and Techniques for Independent Research
Module code:BEMM365
Module level:M
Academic year:2019/0
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Donna Poade - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

This module has the following primary aims, namely to:

  • Prepare students for independent research informed by the main qualitative and quantitative methods utilised in the social sciences.
  • Equip students to design, with minimal supervision and guidance, programmes of primary empirical research, taking into consideration issues of research ethics, data generation, data analysis and reporting of findings.
  • Challenge students to critically evaluate the philosophical assumptions associated with different research paradigms, as they relate to the selection of methods and the production of knowledge.
  • Enable students in their future careers to have confidence in their abilities to analyse data, commission research, or conduct research in the work place and wider operating environment.
  • Equip students with report writing skills in order to present and interpret data in easily accessible ways.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. articulate the current issues associated with different philosophical, methodological and practical approaches to business- and management-related research problems
  • 2. critically evaluate the application of a wide range of alternative techniques, methods and data sources and types in the investigation of specialized research goals
  • 3. appraise the merits of data analysis software packages and their particular functions for independent research
  • 4. identify, assess and action a full range of ethical issues arising from business-related research

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate clearly, full awareness of the contestable and provisional nature of business-related research results.
  • 6. apply an appropriate range of advanced qualitative and quantitative methods in the social sciences accurately and independently.
  • 7. apply with precision and independently critique data from disparate sources.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. use ICT to select, analyse, present and communicate information independently and effectively
  • 9. make appropriate, systematic and accurate uses and interpretations of statistical data
  • 10. support transparent, systematic and sustained written arguments

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 Activities22 (11 x 2 hours)Formal lectures
Guided Independent Study 12 hoursReading for lectures
Guided Independent Study12 hoursPodcasts and videos supporting lecture material
Guided Independent Study52 hours per assignmentReading, analysis and drafting of assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Debate15-30 mins1-9Verbal
Discussion15-30 mins1-9Verbal

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
Report502,500 words1-10 Written Feedback
Report502,500 words1-10Written Feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Report Report 2,500 words1-10Aug/Sept
Report Report 2,500 words1-10Aug/Sept

Re-assessment notes

Students will be required to repeat failed components in the event of overall module failure.

Syllabus plan

  • Why do research?
  • Research Design
  • Research Ethics

Quantitative Techniques:

  • Survey Design
  • Sampling
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Statistical Analysis Workshop

    Qualitative Techniques:

  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Ethnography
  • Qualitative Analysis

Dissemination And Communication

  • Reporting

Q&A Workshop

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Recommended Reading:

Barbour, R. (2008) Introducing Qualitative Research: a Student Guide to the Craft of Doing Qualitative Research.  London: Sage.

Blumberg, B. Cooper, D., and Schindler, P. (2014). Business Research Methods, 4th edition. Berkshire:   McGraw-Hill.

Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2007) Business Research Methods. 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collis, J. and Hussey, R. (2014). Business Research: a practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students. 4th edition.  London: Palgrave.

Cassell, C., Cunliffe, A. L., & Grandy, G. (Eds.). (2017) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. Sage. (Volume 1 and Volume 2)

Easterby-Smith, M, Thorpe R., and Jackson, P. (2015) Management Research. 4th edition. London: Sage.

Plowright, D. (2011) Using Mixed Methods: Frameworks for an Integrated Methodology. London: Sage.

Saunders, M. and Lewis, P. (2012) Research Methods for Business Students. 7th Edition

Additional reading resources will be outlined throughout the module

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources [Sage Online - link through Library] [Qualitative Videos on a range of topics] [Research skills]

Origin date


Last revision date