McDonald – market segmentation, positioning, branding

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The Business Project Assessment Handbook

 

 

  1. Introduction:

The Business Project has 2 elements of assessment which together make up the overall grade for the module. The first is the Proposal which is the preparatory stage for your project, the second is the project itself. Both elements are important and work for the proposal needs to start from day 1 of the module.

Topic Choice :

Your research must relate to the degree programme you are studying, ie BABS w AF must choose a topic related to an accounting or financial issue, BABS with Marketing must have a focus on a marketing issue , etc. If you are registered on BABS without a specialist pathway, then you can choose any business related topic.  Whilst primary research is possible (eg interviews, surveys)  it is likely that the majority of the research you carry out will be from secondary resources such as published literature, reports, journals, databases – you will need to be realistic about what is possible in the timescale and also in the level of access to primary sources you may (or may not) have from your own personal contacts and networks. (Marketing focussed students will have a higher requirement for primary research and you will get more information about this in a specific meeting with a marketing  tutor in semester one). You will need to read broadly around recent issues in the business world and link this to the other modules you are studying to identify an issue of interest. You will need to find links to academic research and carry out a critical evaluation of potential sources, then discuss this with your Business Project tutors and your fellow students to develop you idea into a reasonable proposition for the full project . Your seminars will help you with this process and give opportunities to discuss your progress.

An example:

Maya  reads  in the newspaper that the number of  people saving in personal pensions has fallen even though she had also read that people are  being told they  need to save more for longer. She also reads that this is happening just as the government is introducing compulsory pension savings through the workplace .  She  wonders why people are not saving for their old age , and why the government has to try  to persuade them by introducing compulsion…..

Maya then reads more about the new compulsory pension savings scheme to find out why it was created and what they government are hoping to achieve

Maya  uses a list of related keywords to find  academic research on savings behaviour and finds links to  research on demographic trends and behavioural finance aspects of pension behaviour

Maya talk to her tutor about her idea and he recommends she use some industry body online links to find current industry views of the new savings scheme

Maya discusses her  idea with her friends and their reactions makes her think she might be able to do some survey research by asking fellow students what they think about being automatically enrolled into a workplace savings scheme …….

Maya starts to develop some questions that will help her  investigate to what extent  compulsory pensions saving  might be a solution to the problem of an under-pensioned aging population……

 

This is the kind of process you will need to follow to develop your project plans and start to build up your understanding of your topic area. It will take time and many revisions to come up with the final proposal, but the earlier you start the better – remember it needs to be something you are interested in and can develop yourself – whilst you will discuss your thoughts and ideas in groups and share your ideas with your colleagues, this is not a group project and if a number ideas are too similar at topic choice stage they will  be rejected.

You need to have established the broad area of your research by Tuesday 12th November. On this date you need to email a brief description (max 250 words) of you topic idea to Debbie Sturge  – [email protected] . If approved, you will then develop your idea into your proposal.

  1. The Proposal: 10% of the module grade.

A proposal represents the planning stage of a research project. It sets out the topic you have chosen with a brief explanation of why it is interesting/important, then goes on to show briefly that there is a literature base within which the project is grounded. It sets out the approach you are taking to your research and the methods you are going to use to complete it.  It is an important document because it acts like a road map – it tells you and your supervisor where you are going and how you are going to get there. If you don’t clearly know where you are going or the directions you have given are confused, you will never arrive at your destination! Your proposal is marked by your seminar tutor and by your supervisor, and your supervisor will then give you feedback in your first meeting in January/February.

You must submit by  electronic submission through Blackboard by 2pm on Wednesday 8th January 2014.

The proposal should be structured as follows:

  • Introduction (approx 400 words)
      • Setting the scene: why is your topic area relevant, interesting and/or important.
      • Broad aims and objectives
  • Literature review (approx 700 words)
      • Identify several key texts which set the context and foundations for your research proposal.
      • Provide brief summaries. Identify common themes and points of difference.
      • Concentrate on texts which are relevant to your purpose.
      • Be focused, analytical and critical.
  • Research approach, methods for data collection and analysis  (approx 700 words)
      • set out and justify your approach/paradigm
      • set out the method(s) you intend to apply to collect data
      • set out the methods you intend to apply to analyse your data
      • any challenges or limitations you expect to face
      • any ethical issues
  • References used in text
  • Bibliography – Minimum  10-15  key relevant references listed , even if not yet read or evaluated.
  • Ethics form ( will be supplied on Black Board)

 

The outcome of the proposal process should be the ‘green light’ to go ahead and complete your project.  If your plan is approved, you can feel confident that your supervisor is happy for you to proceed and that he or she believes you have an achievable plan which will, if properly executed, meet the criteria of the assessment and produce a worthwhile piece of research. Don’t forget to then use your plan to guide your progress. The proposal  is not the end of the process, but the beginning – it is there to be used, not filed as ‘job done’.

As stated above, you will receive feedback on your proposal.  Feedback should provide constructive guidance, so take note of this advice and discuss it further with your supervisor– clarify any issues, make sure you know how to take the comments forward and incorporate them into your actions.

Some proposals do not pass. There are some common reasons for this:

  • The aims and objectives may be inappropriate. They may be unclear or poorly explained, too limited or too ambitious etc.
  • There may be an inadequate literature base and insufficient academic merit in the topic chosen
  • The methods may be inappropriate to meet the stated aims and objectives.
  • The plan may be  incoherent in terms of the link between the various criteria and the feasibility of carrying out or completing the research

 

Should you be in this position, the most important thing you can do is talk to your supervisor for suggestions as to how you might retrieve the situation or amend your topic choice into something more acceptable. A mark below 40% in the proposal will not lead to a referral or resubmission, as it is only an element not a component of assessment and the mark will be aggregated with your final project mark.  However, you do have to urgently address the reasons for a low marks or you will have no suitable road map to follow and your project will suffer.

  1. The Project : 90% of the module grade

Your final project is an 8,000 word investigation into a business issue connected with the business/financial world. The maximum word count excludes the abstract, list of references and appendices.  The project would normally address the aims and objectives set out in your proposal and as far as possible follow the plan you set for yourself in the proposal. You will need to demonstrate familiarity with the current context and previous literature on your topic, a basic awareness of research methodology and the ability to gather and evaluate data from multiple sources.  You will need to show that you are able to present valid findings and come to reasoned conclusions from your analysis. You will need to demonstrate good academic writing skills, critical evaluation and synthesis and an enthusiasm for and engagement with your topic.

An appropriate structure for your project would be:

Title Page: Title, Module, date, student number and declaration.

Abstract – a brief summary of the objectives, findings and conclusions (max 200 words)

Index

Introduction

Aims and objectives

Literature review (2500k words)

Methodology and methods

Findings – Data presentation/ analysis and discussion

Conclusions and recommendations

List of references

Appendices.

 

The balance of word count between different sections is harder to determine than with the proposal, as it will depend on how much literature you choose to evaluate as key to the topic in question, how much data you generate /present/evaluate and how detailed your discussion is arising from that data. Work closely with your supervisor and attend all your supervisor meetings, and ensure that you are prepared enough to be able to submit a draft for feedback by 20th March 2014.

Business Project- 8,000 word max. final submission

Overall Grading Standard

70% and above         

The project demonstrates a clear set of research objectives. The literature review demonstrates a strong awareness of relevant authors and theories and a critical approach. The student has discussed methodological approach in appropriate terms. Methods are well justified, appropriate and applied appropriately and to good effect . The research applies academic theory in a clear context, is challenging and relevant. The findings are clearly presented, thoroughly evaluated . The discussion is coherent and linked back to the literature review.  The conclusions are well supported and provide new insights. All references are appropriately cited. Writing style is clear and fluent.

 

 

 

 

 

It is vital that you reference your work properly. This includes both in-text citation where you have used the words or ideas of others either through quotation or by paraphrase (putting into your own words) , or reproduced any material which is not your own eg pictures, diagrams, video or sound files.  There is full guidance on how to reference your work properly in the library website study skills area, where you should follow the rules for the Harvard system, and general guidance on academic skills can also be found on the study skills site. Make sure you refer to these resources regularly as you are researching and writing. If you fail to reference properly you may be accused of plagiarism – passing off someone else’s work as your own,-  and the consequences of this can be serious and cause you to fail your module or even your degree. We will address these skills at various points in the module but the final responsibility for making sure you keep to the rules, is yours. The Learning Support Centre in 2B076 and your language support tutors can also help you with your referencing technique.

You may wish to put your final draft of your proposal and/or your project through the BB ‘safe assign’ system which will detect any direct matches to a broad range of online resources and is used to identify suspected cases of plagiarism. Full instructions will be given on Blackboard.

 

  1. Assessment Criteria:

Your proposal and your final project will both be double marked. The marking criteria are set out as follows:

Business project Proposal   – Assessor Guidance

The objective of the proposal is to provide the students and tutors with a clear framework showing  what is to be investigated, how the research will be carried out and why it is of interest and worth investigating.

The proposal also provides evidence of understanding of the theoretical foundations of research and the practical application of research methods. The project must be potentially achievable within the timescale.

 

 

 

Finally…

This is a challenging assessment that you will no doubt find frustrating at times. Make sure you ask questions and seek help from your tutors and supervisor. Also, use the facilities of,  and advisers in the faculty Learning Support Centre in 2B076 – there is lots of help available, don’t struggle on alone. You will receive further support through your language workshops, lectures and seminars,  so make sure you attend regularly and prepare effectively.

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