Business and Management Research Methods

Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, MRes

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Business and Management Research Methods
  • Type Full-time
  • Duration 12 months
  • Start date September

Stirling Management School Stirling Management School
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467356

The MRes in Business and Management Research Methods is a specialised degree for those looking to develop the skills to conduct high quality research into business, management, organisations and related areas. Many take the MRes in preparation for undertaking a doctorate (or take MRes modules as part of their first year PhD training) but the skills developed on the MRes will also be invaluable to those looking to conduct, evaluate and commission research in non-academic settings (for example in consultancy, development and policy making roles).

The emphasis is on producing researchers who are reflective and aware of the assumptions, strengths and limitations of their research; who are highly skilled in a multitude of management/organisational research techniques; and who are readily able to apply this knowledge in new and diverse domains. Whilst the programme provides specialist research training for those seeking academic careers employability is also key, with a strong practical focus.


The MRes in Business and Management Research Methods is accredited by the ESRC and the SGSS for training of PhD students.


Course objectives

The MRes course in Business and Management Research Methods is aimed at students wanting to:

  • Undertake doctoral research in business and management.
  • Equip themselves for an academic or commercial career in business and management research.
  • Undertake, evaluate, commission or manage research in the commercial, public, or voluntary sectors.

Our philosophy is that postgraduate business and management students need the understanding and skills associated with high quality academic research. This approach applies equally to those who become either academic scholars or professional practitioners.

This course also serves as a generic entry point for the Stirling Management School Doctoral Programme. The Stirling Management School is a member institution of the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre. It welcomes applications for +3 doctoral studentships in the following areas: Accounting and Finance and Business and Management.

The MRes course provides you with broadly based, advanced research training that covers the social science research skills that are relevant for business, management, economic and policy research. On completion of the course students will:

(a) Understand the ontological and epistemological basis of the various research approaches, their limitations and their implications for questions and design.

(b) Be technically skilled in the use of qualitative, quantitative and experimental techniques and to collect and analyse data to an advanced level.

(c) Have the transferable skills to apply this knowledge to the design, conduct and reporting of research projects.

(d) Be able to critically analyse the methodologies used to conduct empirical research projects.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study


MRes: one year
Diploma: nine months
Certificate: six months

Course start date


Structure and content

Stirling’s MRes in Business and Management Research Methods follows two taught semesters, which run from mid-September to late December, and from January until the end of May. Three modules are taken in each semester. After the Spring semester students undertake a dissertation over the summer months (see below).

Students on the MRes in Business and Management Research Methods will start the semester at Stirling Management School with an intensive period of 'learning to learn' and teambuilding activities. This induction period (15th to 26th September) is introduced to enable students to develop new learning styles and understand the expectations that will be placed on them through an engaged and exploratory approach. Students will learn about themselves and their own interactional and learning styles.

Students also learn about others and gain an appreciation of a diverse range of approaches to learning, along with cultural and individual differences. They will also discover more about the exciting year ahead, and what is expected of them. This induction period provides a foundation of activities to help students to fully integrate with the course and their fellow students so that they have the opportunity to gain the maximum out of the course and their interactions with others.

The overall aim is for students to be fully engaged so that they are equipped to embark on the formal teaching course invigorated and committed to the journey ahead with newly developed intellectual, interactional and presentational skills.

The taught content of the course furnishes students with expertise and skills across the whole range of techniques that are relevant for research in the areas of Business, Management and Organisations. Students learn the philosophical bases of research and how research questions may be developed and answered. The course then provides in depth coverage of quantitative, qualitative and experimental research methods, their uses and limitations and how they may be practically applied within research projects. The specific modules taken are:

Autumn Semester

  • Fundamentals and Philosophy of Management Research.
  • Qualitative Methods for Management Research 1.
  • Understanding and Using Statistics.

Spring Semester

  • Qualitative Methods for Management Research 2.
  • Experiments for Decision making in Business and Policy.
  • Survey Measurement and Analysis.


MRes students write a dissertation of up to 15,000 words on a topic approved in advance by the Course Director. The dissertation is the student’s chance to develop their own research questions and apply the methods they have learnt to their own research project. Students each have an expert supervisor for their dissertation who provides guidance and support throughout the process. The dissertation must be submitted within three months of completion of the taught course. The examiners may allow a dissertation which is considered unsatisfactory to be revised and submitted for re-assessment within a specified time period.

Delivery and assessment

Delivery takes the form of structured lectures, seminars and practicals that are supplemented by opportunities for independent learning and exploration.


Assessment is by coursework, including written assignments and presentations, as well as the dissertation. Some modules also have an examination element (see detailed module descriptors).

  • For the award of the Certificate - a student must complete at least 60 credits (3 modules), which must include the specified Certificate modules.
  • For the award of the Diploma - a student must complete at least 120 SCQF credits (6 modules).
  • For the award of the MRes - a student must successfully complete the Diploma programme and achieve a passing grade in the dissertation (at least 180 SCQF credits in total).
  • Merit and Distinction- at the discretion of the Examination Board, exceptional candidates may be awarded the MRes or Diploma with Merit or Distinction if they perform at a suitable level accross their modules and dissertation. 

Recommended reading

There are many books on research and no single text covers the content of this course. However the following is recommended as a leading general text:

  • Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2011) Business Research Methods, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd ed.

An excellent book on how to begin a research project and develop research questions is:

  • White, P (2007) Developing Research Questions: A Guide for Social Scientists, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Another excellent and almost unique text about making evidence based argument, essential for research, is:

  • Booth W, Colomb G, and Williams J. (2003) The Craft of Research, Chicago Press, Chicago, 2nd ed.

Module titles

Course Director

Dr Scott Hurrell


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

More information

The reputation of our research at Stirling Management School was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), where the School was placed in the UK’s top 25 institutions for Business and Management, out of 101 business schools.  In Scotland, the School was ranked in the top five.  64% of our research outputs were classified as world-leading and internationally excellent in terms of their originality, significance and rigour and we were ranked 14th in the UK in terms of research impact with over 60% of our research impact judged to have outstanding reach and wide-ranging impact on the policies of public, private and governmental organisations.

The MRes teaching team are leading researchers who publish in ‘internationally excellent’ and ‘world leading’ journals. Members of the team also have a strong track record of securing research funding, including from UK research councils and the European Union, and regularly advise governmental and policy bodies.


The MRes in Business and Management Research Methods provides both a stand-alone Master of Research in Business and Management Research Methods and a programme of training for PhD researchers. It is part of a suite of very high prestige courses approved by the Economic and Social Research Council (the chief government sponsored agency that funds British-led economic and social research) for use in general research training of ESRC sponsored students undertaking PhD research. The course can be seen as equipping students for academic careers but it can also provide or enhance managers’ critical skills in both generating and evaluating the validity, reliability and limitations of evidence for decision making and implementation.

Our students

Following studying a Master's degree in entrepreneurship in France, I wanted to pursue my passion in environmental entrepreneurship further with a PhD.  An MRes in management research offered an excellent foundation for doing this.

In addition to gaining a very good grounding in the core aspects of management research, I was also able to tailor the MRes to my particular research interests.  Whilst developing an understanding of the sociological underpinnings of management research, I also learned practical skills through the MRes assignments which a researcher in academia and in other roles would use, such as preparing research proposals, designing surveys and conducting literature reviews.

It is certain that this programme is great preparation for a PhD and for entering management careers where research and analytical skills are increasingly important.

Chris Ball, ESRC sponsored PhD research student, April 2013


Career opportunities

The course is aimed at those who wish to embark on an academic or commercial career in business, management and related research. The course is also invaluable for those working in public policy areas who need to conduct, analyse and commission research. It also provides essential research training for those planning to study for a PhD.


Our students develop essential transferable skills, relevant to research. Skills include: critical thinking; analysis and interpretation of varied and complex data; making and supporting evidence based arguments; planning and implementing projects; self management; presentation skills; and self reflection. 


2016/17 Overseas £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU £4,500
2015/16 Overseas £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU £4,500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


The MRes in Business and Management Research Methods is part of the application for the Doctoral Training Centre for Scotland by consortium of Scottish universities and replaces the prior recognition by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its 1+3 and +3 awards scheme. Under the Doctoral Training Scheme, UK students can apply to the ESRC for funded studentships that will cover fees and maintenance for the four-year programme (including the MRes), leading to the award of a PhD. Candidates from EU countries other than the UK are eligible to apply for a ‘fees only’ award. Further details of ESRC funding for postgraduates are available from:

Stirling Management School is committed to investing in academically talented students, enabling them to further their education with a reputable qualification from one of the many degree courses on offer at the University of Stirling. There are various categories of funding available to support the cost of your studies at the University of Stirling.

For further information on possible sources of funding, visit: