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University of Exeter Business School


Module titleDissertation
Module codeBUS3001
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Ji Han (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Students from across the Business School can undertake their own in-depth research study into a subject of interest related to their degree programme. They will benefit from having the opportunity to plan and manage their individual piece of research on a topic of their interest, which may not have been covered in depth during regular modules. This Dissertation module is supported with classes that explain the process, the principles of management research, and provide guidance on working with your supervisor. 

With guidance from supervisors and the module lead, students may choose one of three assessment formats.  These are:

  • Research Dissertation: using a typical thesis structure and research method(s) associated with academic scholarship.
  • Business Project: in which the student researches and analyses an issue currently experienced by an industry partner or sponsor. This will be written up as a consultancy-style report including, for example, literature, findings based on organizational data analysis, and recommendations.  Where this option is chosen, students should have an established relationship with an industry partner (e.g. from a previously undertaken internship), who is willing to allow data analysis and research on this topic.
  • Literature Review Dissertation:  undertaking a systematic and detailed review of academic (and, where appropriate or necessary, practitioner) literature on a focused topic.  Original data collection is not required for this option.

Additional Information:


Dissertations can be linked to internships and business projects, so they provide a strong talking point for future interviews. Students also develop their research and comprehension skills. This module offers the potential of enhanced employability thorough demonstrating a deep understanding of the application of data analysis- using academic literature to analyse and evaluate real-world situations.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of writing a dissertation is to give students the opportunity to research a topic related to their programme of study, which is not covered in depth by any taught module being offered that year. It is also designed to give students the opportunity to plan and manage their own research and to produce an extended written dissertation.

The exact nature of knowledge development in this module will be dependent upon the nature of the research project undertaken, which may be from any area of the Business School (Accounting, Finance, Economics or Management).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Plan and execute an original research project
  • 2. Research and critically discuss a chosen academic or practical topic and demonstrate application of the underlying discipline concepts and/or research processes

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Use appropriate information, research and data resources, applying broader discipline knowledge to the specific research project
  • 4. Present and evaluate findings in a manner consistent with the norms of the subject area

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Work independently, seeking and applying advice from the supervisor
  • 6. Take responsibility for the direction and management of a research project through to completion and submission
  • 7. Present research in a clear and academic format

Syllabus plan

This is an independent research module. However, it does include a series of lecture and workshop sessions covering research methods that will facilitate students in undertaking a traditional research dissertation, a business project, or a desk-based systematic literature review.

Taught sessions will cover:

  • Module introduction and the nature of dissertation research
  • Defining a study and compiling research aims and objectives
  • The literature review
  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques
  • Writing up your research

Taught sessions will occur across terms one and two, and may be adjusted to suit the prevailing learning needs of the student group.

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 & teaching5Supervision
Scheduled learning & teaching14Cohort briefings/lecture sessions
Guided Independent Study281Reading, researching, and writing up your dissertation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project plans and draft chaptersAs appropriate to the project and position in the research and writing process1-7Verbal and/or written

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
Dissertation10010 000 words excluding tables, charts and appendices. 1-7Verbal and Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
DissertationRevision of the dissertation based on the given feedback1-7Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Core text for the module:

  • Bryman, A & Bell, E. (2018). Business research methods. (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Saunders M., Lewis P. & Thornhill A. (2015). Research methods for business students. (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson.

Supplementary reading:

  • Duanmu, J.L. and Fai, F.M., 2007. A processual analysis of knowledge transfer: From foreign MNEs to Chinese suppliers. International Business Review, 16(4), pp.449-473.
  • Mulligan, E. and Oats, L., 2016. Tax professionals at work in Silicon Valley. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 52, pp.63-76.
  • Bénabou, R., Ticchi, D. and Vindigni, A., 2015. Religion and innovation. American Economic Review, 105(5), pp.346-51.
  • Duanmu, J.L., Bu, M. and Pittman, R., 2018. Does market competition dampen environmental performance? Evidence from China. Strategic Management Journal, 39(11), pp.3006-3030.
  • Rajwani, T. and Liedong, T.A., 2015. Political activity and firm performance within nonmarket research: A review and international comparative assessment. Journal of World Business, 50(2), pp.273-283.
  • Østergaard, C.R., Timmermans, B. and Kristinsson, K., 2011. Does a different view create something new? The effect of employee diversity on innovation. Research Policy, 40(3), pp.500-509.
  • Kang, L., Jiang, Q. and Tan, C.H., 2017. Remarkable advocates: An investigation of geographic distance and social capital for crowdfunding. Information & Management, 54(3), pp.336-348.
  • Pratt, M.G., Lepisto, D.A. and Dane, E., 2019. The hidden side of trust: Supporting and sustaining leaps of faith among firefighters. Administrative Science Quarterly, 64(2), pp.398-434.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Various journal articles – contemporary business issues from a variety of relevant publications 

Key words search

Dissertation, research, project

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date