Business and Management Research Methods

Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, MRes


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.


Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, MRes
  • Study methods: Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Professor George Burt
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download course leaflet
Download postgraduate prospectus

Course Director

Professor George Burt

Centre for Advanced Management Education
Stirling Management School
University of Stirling

  1. Accreditation — the course is accredited by the Economic & Social Research Council via the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science
  2. Develop high quality research skills – the course prepares students for study at doctorate level as well as research-based roles in business and the public sector
  3. Expert teaching team — the team publish regularly in major journals, have a strong track record of securing research funding and regularly advise governmental and policy bodies
  4. Stirling’s global research rating — we’re among the top 25 in the UK according to REF 2014
  5. Build your global network — study alongside international students across a range of business disciplines

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.

What makes us different?

Top UK subject specialists

The reputation of our research was recognised in the 2014 REF, where our 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.

Strong research training credentials and accreditation

Research excellence underpins all that we do and this is acknowledged by key research funders. The MRes Business and Management Research Methods 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, via the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences.

Business Engagement

The University of Stirling Management School equips students to flourish as effective managers in the workplace through enhanced self-awareness, critical thinking, leadership and team-working skills.

Find out more about business engagement

Business Engagement


At the University of Stirling Management School, we are committed to ensuring that every single one of our students realise their potential.

The graduate job market has never been more competitive, and greater focus is now being placed on finding graduates who can demonstrate a wide array of skills, competences and experiences.

Find out more about employability

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World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic 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 have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs


2018/19 Overseas £13,650
2018/19 Home/EU £4,700



Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

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.

Further information on possible sources of funding

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

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 across 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.

Modes of study


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

Study method


Why Stirling?


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.

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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


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


Our staff

Professor George Burt brings practical experience and knowledge to his teaching having been involved in designing and facilitating many private and public sector scenario and futures projects, both in an educational and consultant capacity.  These international projects include organistations such as World Bank, Shell, ProRail Holland, PETRONAS, de Beers, Paypal, DoonsanBabcock, Lloyds Registry Quality Assurance, Caledonian Paper plc, the Edrington Group, Stirling Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council and City of Glasgow Council.  George is currently Chair of Strategy track at the British Academy of Management, and co-authored the best-selling book, The Sixth Sense: Accelerating Organizational Learning with Scenarios.

View RMS profile

Staff teaching on the course are published experts in their fields.  Information on our teaching staff can be found in the links below:

Professor Paul Thompson

Dr Michael Walsh

Ms Kate Howie

Professor Ron McQuaid

Dr David Comerford

Dr Simon McCabe

Careers and employability

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.

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98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

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. 

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