HRMU9RB: HRM Dissertation

Semester:  Autumn and Spring

Level:  10

Credit Value:  60

Module Coordinator:   Dr Adelina Broadbridge, Management, Work & Organisation Division

The dissertation is perhaps the most important part of your degree at Stirling. Having completed three years at University you should be in a position to demonstrate your ability to work independently. You will be asked to produce a piece of research which addresses a particular issue which you have identified as being worthy of further study.

This process begins in Autumn semester with a taught programme which covers subjects such as quantitative and qualitative research techniques and relevant statistical and symbolic analytical tools. You will also be asked to refine your topic through a critical analysis of relevant academic and business literature and theory.

Having completed the taught element of the programme, in Spring semester you must then demonstrate the ability to produce independently a written dissertation which addresses the particular topic that you have identified. A supervisor is available to assist and advise you in the process of completing their dissertation but this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to academic staff and prospective employers the knowledge and skills that you have acquired during your studies.

Module Description

The dissertation requires you to apply your knowledge and skills to the design and implementation of an original research investigation in your chosen field. It is the culmination of your degree and enables you to build on, and integrate, the material acquired in previous modules. This work will address a particular issue that you have identified as being worthy of study (with approval by academic staff).

The emphasis of the dissertation is on focused, independent study under the guidance and facilitation of a designated supervisor.  Therefore, the majority of learning hours are dedicated to self-study.  The dissertation process thus enables you to become an independent learner who can demonstrate capability in conducting an individual research project.  This will be beneficial to your future employability.

It is worth 60 credits and so plays an important part in the calculation of your degree class and type of degree awarded.

The module will also introduce you to the research methods necessary enable you to undertake independent research with confidence.  These will also be skills you can use in later life for undertaking primary research and making appropriate business decisions.  The lectures on research methods provide an understanding of what data are; and how they are captured, collected and analysed.

Module Objectives

The aim of the dissertation is to pull together all the skills you have developed so far to produce an independent piece of research that contributes to academic and practical knowledge in a chosen field of study.

Through completion of the dissertation, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate the ability to identify a research topic of interest to your degree programme
  • apply relevant skills, knowledge, and know-how learnt in previous modules to real situations
  • identify and analyse relevant theory and academic literature and display an ability to apply them in the dissertation
  • develop and clearly articulate a research question
  • develop and defend an appropriate methodology and conduct qualitative and/or quantitative research into a relevant topic   
  • demonstrate the ability to organize, analyse  and to evaluate findings
  • develop conclusions with reference to existing literature and debates
  • explain the practical and theoretical relevance of the investigation
  • work independently with guidance from a supervisor
  • establish your expertise in your chosen topic area

Learning outcomes

  • design a research project;
  • critically analyse literature and theory relevant to the topic area;
  • design, use and analyse various quantitative and/or qualitative research techniques appropriate to the research topic, e.g. questionnaires, interviews, group discussions etc.
  • use computer /statistical packages, if appropriate
  • apply appropriate analytical skills to the problem at hand
  • integrate and evaluate data from primary and secondary sources

Skills developed:

Cognitive and transferable skills:

  • identify, retrieve, analyse and interpret appropriate information from a wide variety of sources;
  • effective problem solving and decision making
  • complete individual work to reinforce knowledge, aid reflection and demonstrate capacity for independent thought
  • display autonomy, initiative and accountability in individual endeavour;
  • manage resources, time and work to deadlines
  • demonstrate broad capabilities in reading and comprehension
  • display the ability to collate, analyse and interpret a range of materials
  • show the capacity for critical reasoning and analysis
  • show the capacity for argumentation and persuasion
  • show the capacity for effective problem solving and decision making
  • demonstrate oral and written presentation skills
  • develop  self-confidence,  self-reliance, self-management and reflection skills
  • develop  communication and interpersonal skills
  • carry out self-directed research and become be self-reliant
  • Deal with ethical and professional issues in research in accordance with current professional and/or ethical codes or practice under guidance

Preparatory Work

You can start to thinking about your dissertation now and you may already have some ideas to work with.  To generate some ideas consider the modules you have enjoyed already – as they are likely to form the base of the academic literature review.    You might want to consider doing a dissertation on a topic that is of personal interest to you  (e.g. connected with a business idea or hobby) or related to some employment you have been undertaking while at university – remember this might be a good opportunity to get hold of ‘real life’ data.   

There are a number of books available which provide advice and guidance on doing research, and you are encouraged to take responsibility for your own self-managed learning by exploring the topics covered in the lectures and seminars further and using the resources available to you (library texts, journals, podcasts, Internet). 

Texts: dissertation

Reading for your dissertation will vary according to your chosen topic area.  Nevertheless there are several books on how to write a dissertation.  Each has their pros and cons.  Below are four that we recommend to you but feel free to consult other texts on the topic area as well:

Greetham, B. (2015) How to Write your Undergraduate Dissertation, second edition, London: Palgrave Macmillan. (K8.135 GRE)

Bell, J. (2010) Doing Y our Research Project : A Guide for First-time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science, fifth editionMilton Keynes: Open University Press. (K8.135 BEL)

Walliman, N. (2013) Your Undergraduate Dissertation: The Essential Guide for Success Second Edition, London: Sage (K8.22WAL) AVAILABLE ELECRONICALLY

Brown, R.B.. (2006) Doing Your Dissertation in Business and Management: the Reality to Researching and Writing, London: Sage. (K8.135 BRO)

Texts: research methods

We recommend two main textbooks for research methods (shown below).  They are available as e-books in the library. Simply find them in the Library catalogue.  Hard copies are also to be found in the library.  You can use them interchangeably or stick to your one preferred text but you may find one text is better for understanding some topics and the other for others.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2012) Research Methods for Business Students, 6th edition, Prentice Hall, London    (GM 2.78SAU)

Kent, R. (2007) Marketing Research. Approaches, Methods and Applications in Europe. Cengage, London. (GM 15.2KEN).


This module information is representative of what is included in the module in a given year. Details of actual reading, lectures and coursework may vary year to year and will be available at the beginning of the semester.

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