module specification

MN7183 - Management Learning and Research (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24, but may be subject to modification
Module title Management Learning and Research
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
155 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Comparative methodological critique of two research studies (1 x qualitative + 1 x quantitative): c. 2,000 words
Coursework 40%   Research proposal
Oral Examination 10%   Presentation of research proposal
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module is core for all MBA and MBA pathway students. An MBA programme has a significant role to play in developing its students as responsible and evidence informed management practitioners. This module challenges the criticism often levied at business research and the teaching of research methods by adopting a learning-centred, reflective and integrated approach. This will support all MBA students’ understanding of research-informed practice and research methods. It will prepare them to undertake and to communicate a business research project which links context with management theory, evidence and practice. It will provide a firm foundation in the philosophical and practical factors that characterise business research, the opportunity to critically analyse and evaluate recent research studies and support the development of a research proposal. In this way it will support the development of the research-related management knowledge and skills necessary for professional development and the decision making processes appropriate to management practitioners

Module aims

The Management Learning and Research module anticipates that responsible management learning for dynamic and complex environments involves the whole person in taking professional and personal responsibility for making and implementing justifiable decisions. By adopting a learning-centred approach, students are introduced to the choices and judgements that have to be made in crafting, executing and evaluating research which provides the essential link between theory and business practice. The module is intended to prepare students to critically read and evaluate research within their chosen field of study and then to design a research proposal for their business research project.
It provides a comprehensive introduction to research philosophy, methodology and design and their application in researching business-related issues in diverse domestic and international contexts.  It seeks to introduce MBA and MBA pathway students to the part that research plays in business development, and the different skills involved, including rigorous investigative techniques, data collection and analysis and the communication methods that may be employed.
Students will be encouraged from the beginning of the module to use formal and informal learning opportunities across and beyond the course to identify possible research topics relevant to their particular areas of interest.  Towards the end of the module students will devise a proposal for a research project that will form the basis of the Business Research Report. 

The aims of the module are:

  1. To introduce students to research philosophy, methodology and design and their application to researching business-related issues in diverse domestic and international contexts.
  2. To provide students with the practical skills necessary to design and undertake a postgraduate business research project in a subject of their own choosing
  3. To provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of research through the analysis and evaluation of research studies
  4. To formulate a coherent proposal with appropriate aims and objectives and a realistic plan of execution;
  5. To foster a critical awareness and deep interest in a management/business topic associated with their subject specialist area and to combine knowledge and analyses acquired in core MBA modules to explore that topic fully;
  6. To enable students to produce a full research report and a research summary on an appropriate topic to a professional and engaging standard.


The following summarises the main elements of the syllabus:

  • The nature and purpose of responsible contemporary business research; bridging the theory-practice gap; the role of the researcher; research-informed practice; decision making based on research evidence  
  • Identifying the nature of the research context; key influencing factors; identifying opportunities for development
  • Philosophical Underpinnings of social and management research: ontological, axiological and epistemological assumptions; partial and multiple truths; positivism versus naturalism; hypothetico-deductive paradigms versus interpretative-inductive paradigms (e.g., the ‘grounded method’); action and case study research approaches; comparative investigation; feminist methodologies; postmodern and post-structural paradigms.
  • Personal, professional, stakeholder and ethical issues involved in utilising and undertaking research in diverse business contexts
  • Secondary Research: literature searching: framing a literature search; published sources, secondary data and historical research; advanced referencing, database research and bibliographical citations.
  • Primary Research: quantitative approaches to organization, employment and human resources research (e.g., questionnaires, structured interviews and survey methods); qualitative approaches to organization, employment and human resources (e.g., ethnographies; in-depth case studies; qualitative individual and focus group interviewing); and understanding the contribution and limitations of both approaches/methods (including complementary uses).
  • Research Design: formulating research proposals; constructing methodological techniques for assembling data (e.g., questionnaire design; case study design); process of preparing research-based dissertations.
  • Research Analysis: sampling and survey analysis; selecting, interpreting and presenting statistical data; concept of probability; graphical representation of data; inferential statistics eg. chi-square, t-test and correlation and regression; reflexive versus objective analysis; crystallisation versus triangulation; thematic and textual analysis; content and discourse analysis; IT software in research including SPSS and Nvivo
  • Writing and Presentation of Research Results and Analysis: writing research briefs, writing proposals, structuring research reports, communicating to diverse audiences, giving research presentations, academic referencing.

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching strategy for this module enables students to gain a critical understanding of the nature and purpose of research, research findings and gain practical hands-on research experiences that take them through the process of problem identification, design, data collection and analysis. This will enable them to make informed, context-driven decisions when faced with complex management problems in their workplaces

Collaborative, active learning will be encouraged,  with high levels of student involvement aiming to foster research, social, learning and reflective skills. Critical evaluation of a wide range of research methods is given in the lectures, seminar discussion, and suggested readings. In addition, students participate in group work activity both prior to and in seminars, specialist workshops and visits to introduce them to study resources and information technology that may support data organization and manipulation. Students will also be encouraged to actively participate in opportunities to attend lectures, events and visits both within the university and in the wider business and research community.

These elements combine to underpin further reading and discussion so encouraging students to develop their knowledge and conduct their own analysis and synthesis of research material, and to write a research proposal in their specialist field.

Active student involvement in the learning process is an integral part of the delivery of this module.  Attendance at all sessions is required as the module is cumulative and progressive.  Outside of class contact, students learn through assignment work, reading and private study.

Digital literacy development

The learning,  teaching and assessment strategy for this module will enable students to develop their capabilities in digital literacy and information handling appropriate to professional/master’s level study as outlined in the Open University Digital and Information Literacy Framework (DILF: available to view at  )

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Identify current trends and key influencing factors in their chosen context for research

2. Identify, distinguish and evaluate different research paradigms, philosophies and epistemologies.

3.  Understand the role and significance of doing research within diverse business contexts including the different forms and functions of research including: e.g. academic, policy, market, consultancy, evaluative.

  1. Reflect on the personal, professional and ethical issues involved in undertaking research in diverse business contexts
  2. Critically analyse, discuss and evaluate existing academic and practitioner research, demonstrating an awareness of research good practice, data collection, data analysis and the relative merits of different research methods in contributing to knowledge and informed decision-making within a range of contexts.
  3. Conduct an information search of appropriate literature and data sources and reference the work of others following appropriate academic conventions. 
  4. Utilise IT software for data collection, analysis and presentation of data. 
  5. Contribute effectively to the planning, design and implementation of research and the presentation of results/outcomes in a chosen area of business practice including being able to negotiate, make sound and justifiable decisions and solve problems more effectively
  6. Utilize the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake successful business  research within a chosen area located nationally or internationally

4. Devise a carefully considered research proposal

5.  Communicate complex ideas and analyses in their area of research orally and in writing

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed through three complementary assessment components. These consist of

  1. Comparative methodological critique of two research studies (1 x qualitative + 1 x quantitative): c. 2,000 words and a 10 minute presentation for on-Campus students
  2. A research proposal c. 2,000 words

These are intended, firstly, to support the learning and teaching activity throughout the module, enabling students to demonstrate in-depth reading and critical reflection on the major approaches to research appropriate to business,  informed by knowledge from the social sciences and applied within the business field.

Secondly, courseworks  two and three  enable students to capitalise on what they have learned  through the module and received assessment feedback on coursework one, by identifying and developing their own research proposal.


Key Texts:

Brett Davies, M. (2007). Doing a Successful Research Project Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Bryman, A (2012). Social Research Methods. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2011). Business Research Methods. 3rd edition. Oxford: OUP.
Buckingham, A. and Saunders. P. (2004). The Survey Methods Workbook. Cambridge: Polity Press. (also useful website with additional support materials )
Collis, J. and Hussey, R. (2009). Business Research: a practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students.  3rd edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Costley, C., Elliott, G. and Gibbs, P. (2010).  Doing Work-Based Research: Approaches to Enquiry for Insider-Researchers, London: Sage.
Cottrell, S. (2005). Critical Thinking Skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Cottrell, S. (2014). Dissertations and Project Reports: a step by step guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Davies, M and Hughes, N. (2014). Doing a Successful Research Project. 2nd edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan
Gill, J. and Johnson, P. (2009). Research methods for managers.  London; Sage
Kuiper. S (2009). Contemporary Business Report Writing. Mason, Ohio:
South Western
Markham. C (2007). Practical Management Consultancy. Surrey:   CCH
Newton R (2010). The Management Consultant; Mastering the Art of Consultancy. Harlow, England: Financial Times/Prentice Hall
Quinlan, C. Babin, B. Carr, J. Griffin, M. and Zikmund, W.G. (2015). Business Research Methods. Andover: Cengage Learning.  (available as an e-resource through the library   
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2012).) Research Methods for Business Students. 6th edition London: Pearson Education. Student additional study resources to be used alongside this text are available at: 
Salkind, N. (2011) Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics. London: Sage.
Symon. G. and Cassell, C. (2012) Qualitative Organizational Research. London: Sage/
Van Der Velde M et al (2004). Guide to Research Methods. Oxford:  Blackwell .
Wilkinson, E. and  Weitkamp, (2016). Creative Research Communication: theory and practice. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Wisker, G. (2008). The Postgraduate Research Handbook. 2nd edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Important Texts:
Bazeley, P. (2007) Qualitative Data Analysis with NVIVO. London: Sage.
Brace, N. Kemp, R. and Smelgar, R. (2012) SPSS for Psychologists.  Basingstoke: Palgrave ALSO website with psychology related examples
Blumburg, B. (2011, 3rd edition) Business Research Methods. London: McGraw-Hill
Coghlan, D. and Brannick, T. (2010, 3rd edition) Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. London: Sage.
Collis, J. and Hussey, R. (2009, 3rd edition) Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students.  Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Cresswell, J.W. (2013, 3rd edition) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. London: Sage.
Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. and Jackson, P. R. (2012) Management Research, 4th edition. London: Sage.
Field, A.(2009)  Discovering Statistics Using SPSS. London: Sage. ALSO his website with psychology related examples
Gill, J. and Johnson, P. (2009). Research Methods for Managers, , 4th edition. London: Sage.
Hart, C. (2011). Doing a Literature Search: A Comprehensive Guide for the Social Sciences. London: Sage.
Kelemen, M. and Rumens, N. (2008). An Introduction to Critical Management Research. London: Sage.
Marschan-Piekkari, R. and Welch, R. (2005)  Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business. Cheltenham, Edward-Elgar.
McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2011). All You Need to Know about Action Research,  2nd edition. London: Sage.
Pallant, J. (2010).The SPSS Survival Manual, 3rd edition. London: McGraw Hill.
Yin, R. K. (2009). Case Study Research: Design and Methods, , 4th  edition. London: Sage.

Methodology Journals include: Action Research; Ethnography; Organizational Research Methods; Qualitative Research. Etc
In addition to the recommended texts it is expected that students will consult the appropriate journals in their own specialist area. These provide examples of the ways different research designs have been applied in empirical research.