1. Demonstrate an understanding of the academic theory relevant to the project

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HR6004 – Marketing Dissertation Pathway - Assessment Guide


This is individual work.

Weighting: 100%

Word count: 6,000 words (excluding abstract, appendices and reference list, and the work can be 10% over or under this word limit)


Submission deadline: 19/04/2018



Learning Outcomes Evidenced by this project:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the academic theory relevant to the project
  2. Appreciate the complexity and relevance of ethical issues when researching and managing a project
  3. Evaluate findings, draw appropriate conclusions from analysis of the data and make recommendations and/or develop solutions for problems identified
  4. Develop professional employability skills to meet the needs of the project and career aspirations
  5. Reflect on skills developed in undertaking a report which may include commercial awareness, problem-solving and analytical skills, planning and organisation skills, meeting deadlines, research and information literacy skills, use of IT and academic writing skills
  6. Frame a project topic that takes due account of students’ resources, capabilities and interests
  7. Identify, evaluate and discuss the limitations of research methods and other barriers to completion of a satisfactory project
  8. Demonstrate the capacity to collect, analyse and interpret a range of data
  9. Communicate in a clear and structured manner

Submission procedure:

The submission of the dissertation will be 100% electronic. Students must submit their work through the Turnitin link for Assessment on Moodle.

Return of feedback and marked work:          

Feedback on electronic assessments will be provided on Grademark directly to the student. Students can also make an appointment with the Module Leader or Tutor (or during dedicated Student Hours) to receive oral feedback on their submission.


This is a capstone project of undergraduate programmes at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, and requires students to conduct an independent research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff. The dissertation project is a 5,000-word independent research project (as well as a 1,000-word critical reflection on academic skills and employability) which accounts for 30 credits of the final degree classification.

To enable students to develop the requisite research skills for the dissertation, the Royal Docks School of Business and Law runs weekly Research Planning sessions which cover the research process, research methods and qualitative and quantitative forms of data analysis. Further specialist seminars in Term 2 on data analysis will be run in Term 2.

The first stage of the dissertation pathway is the submission of a dissertation proposal, which is due on November 30th 2017. The dissertation proposal is a 1,500 word (maximum) outline of the topic you intend to research for your dissertation. While the proposal is formative (non-assessed), it is very important in matching your research topic to an appropriate supervisor, and students are advised to read the key literature in the chosen topic and devise a cogent research proposal. Advice on the structure and submission of a dissertation proposal is provided toward the end of this document.


All research projects involving primary research using human participants in the School of Business and Law must first seek approval from our College Research Ethics Board (CREB). The guidance notes and forms for completing this exercise are available on SREC Moodle page, which all HR6004 students have access to. Dr Aidan Kelly ([email protected]) is the current Chair of the School Research Ethics Committee. When students have been allocated a supervisor, they will work with their supervisor to develop their research ethics application and submit it for consideration at the next SREC meeting. Details on how and when to submit research ethics applications will be communicated to students via the SREC Moodle page during the term, so please monitor your emails for more details. The provisional deadlines for SREC in Term 1 are 16.00 on Thursday, November 8th 2017 and Term 2 at 16.00 on Thursday, February 7th 2018.

Please note that examples of previous marketing plans can be found using the library home page. Please follow the following instructions:

  1. On the library “search” box, type precisely the search terms “Business Dissertation” (don’t worry, Marketing Plans are also searchable using this term).
  2. Once you find the search results, on the “topics” section on the right-hand side of the page, select “Royal Docks School of Business and Law”.
  3. You will find 10 submissions when this is selected, which are a selection of the best dissertations and marketing plans submitted for HR6004 (Marketing) in the 2016/17 academic year.

Details of the task

Dissertations at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law retain a similar structure, irrespective of the programme the student is registered for. Students are required to produce a dissertation that contains seven chapters – Introduction, Literature Review, Research Methodology (Interviews/Questionnaires/Case Study, etc.), Data Analysis, Conclusions, Recommendations and Reflection.

Students must evaluate the literature on their chosen topic, formulate a valid research question and objectives, design an appropriate research methodology, collect relevant primary and/or secondary data, analyse the findings, develop cogent conclusions and recommendations on the basis of their analysis and finally reflect on the overall experience. The following is a brief outline of the approximate length and contents of each section and chapter.


The title of a dissertation is important, however it is expected to evolve with the research process. Students can choose a provisional title for their dissertation proposal, and use a working title for their dissertation as they conduct their research. The title should as much as possible encapsulate the topic and approach taken to the research. 


The Abstract is typically 250 words long, and is not included in the 6,000-word count for the dissertation. It should provide the reader with an overview of the focus of the dissertation, the theory incorporated into the project, the methodological approach and data collection, key findings and conclusions and recommendations of the project. The abstract should not contain academic references, and is intended to provide a short summary for the reader of the work. Students should invest time into this section, as it’s often the very first paragraph an examiner will read.


An Acknowledgements page is optional, but some students like to use this opportunity to thank their family, friends, colleagues, sponsor and supervisor for support during their studies. Students should not feel compelled to include this section however. The acknowledgements section is not included in the overall word count for the dissertation.

Table of Contents

A Table of Contents is absolutely essential for the dissertation, and is used by examiners to navigate the various sections of the project. A Table of Contents can be quite simply added using Microsoft Word®, and students should familiarise themselves with how to use this function. There are also some excellent tutorials available on YouTube for students who wish to develop their skills in this area. The Table of Contents is not included in the overall word count for the dissertation.


The Introduction chapter should be 500 words in length approximately. It sets the scene for the entire thesis, and introduces the topic. In this chapter, the student should outline the focus of the project, and the origins of the research question. If possible, the student should frame the professional/industry context for the inquiry, and provide some industry insights in the form of media commentary and/or statistical facts.

In this chapter, the student introduces the research question and objectives/hypotheses, and provides rationale and justification for them. Students should ensure that their research question is phrased as a question (i.e. a sentence expressed in such a way as to elicit information), the research objectives are relevant to the research question and phrased in appropriate academic language (EG: “To critically evaluate…”, “To investigate…”, “To determine…” etc.). In this chapter, students should also introduce the structure of the thesis and provide readers with an overview of the contents of each chapter.

Critical Literature Review

The Critical Literature Review should be 1,000 words in length approximately. It is the chapter in which students critically evaluate academic scholarship on their chosen topic. The student should read the literature on their topic, form key headings for the literature review and critically evaluate previous research on the topic. In the context of a literature review, “critical” means that the student is intellectually engaged with the key debates in the literature on the topic in question.  Students conduct the literature review to understand the academic conversation on a particular topic or subject and determine what the expert perspective is. There may well be a divergence of opinion on a subject, or that different aspects of the subject have been previously explored, the goal of the literature review is to evaluate the current body of knowledge and formulate an academically relevant research question from this review. Students should try, wherever possible, to identify gaps in the current body of knowledge and ways in which they could contribute to the discourse on a particular topic. For students engaging in quantitative research, it is useful to refer to hypotheses formulated during the research process in the Critical Literature Review, so examiners can see a clear link between the hypotheses and the extant literature.   

Research Methodology

The Research Methodology should be 500 words in length approximately. The student should explain the paradigm the research approach is located in and the research philosophy guiding the inquiry. The nature of the research question will determine the paradigm the project will be located within, and the philosophy which will underpin the ontological and epistemological assumptions of the research approach. Generally, research will be either located in the positivist or interpretivist paradigm (although other paradigmatic positions, such as Pragmatism or Critical Theory, are possible), and the research methods used in the inquiry will depend upon the research paradigm the work is located within. Students should explain the research methods used and provide rationale and justification for the research design of the study. They should explain how they have collected their data, and the sampling strategy they adopted for the work (if applicable). Students should also explain how they have conducted their analysis and interpretation of the data they have generated during the inquiry, and the ways they have ensured the trustworthiness, reliability and validity of their data and analysis. In this chapter, students should also discuss the limitations of their research, and any challenges they may have encountered in the research process (access to interviewees, survey response rates, etc.).

Students can use a single methodology (EG: Questionnaires/Depth Interviews), or use multiple data collection approaches as part of either a case study or mixed methods study. Primary and/or secondary data collection approaches are acceptable for the dissertation project. Students are often unsure as to how much primary data they should collect for a dissertation project. Students are advised to collect a minimum of 8 hours of qualitative data (for a qualitative study), 100 questionnaires (for a quantitative study), or whatever appropriate balance for a mixed methods study (please note that all studies incorporating “human participants” must apply for ethical approval from SREC). The nature of the topic and the methodology must also be considered in how much data the student will collect, and consultation with the supervisor is vital prior to the data collection phase of the project. Students collecting secondary data as part of a Case Study or other secondary data project should agree an appropriate level of data collection with their supervisor.

Data Analysis

The Data Analysis chapter should be 2,000 words in length approximately. This is a vitally important chapter for the dissertation. In this chapter, the student must analyse the data collected and identify key patterns from the analysis. These can take the form of overarching themes (in qualitative research), hypothesis testing (in quantitative research), or key tabulations from secondary quantitative data using SPSS or other statistical software. Students should analyse their data with their research question and objectives in mind, and ensure that the analysis adequately helps to address the overall aims of the research project. In this chapter, students should also compare and contrast their findings with previous studies for consistency, and evaluate the significance of their findings. It is also useful if students formulate a clear thesis (argument) from their analysis of the data collected in this chapter.


The Conclusion chapter should be 500 words in length approximately. In this chapter, students should reflect upon their research question and objectives/hypotheses, and the answers they have developed from the findings of their research project. They should also consider the theoretical (do the findings challenge existing theory?) and managerial implications (what do the findings imply for practicing managers/practitioners/public sector leaders?). Crucially, students must show how they have addressed the research question and objectives they originally formulated for the research project.


The Recommendations chapter should be 500 words in length approximately. It should consider what recommendations would be made on the basis of the findings of the study and the answer to the research question/objectives/hypotheses posed. Students should make recommendations for management practice, wider society (if applicable) and importantly for future research projects, which may be particularly helpful for students undertaking dissertations in future cohorts. Students should also critically reflect upon their findings and consider their implications.

Critical Reflection upon Academic Skills and Employability

This chapter should be 1,000 words in length approximately. In this chapter, students should reflect upon the academic skills developed during the project, and how these will be helpful in future employment opportunities. Students should keep a diary during the process, which can be submitted as an appendix to their project (if they so wish), and reflect upon their holistic experience on the module and during the project itself. Part of a seminar class during the semester will be devoted to the reflective chapter.

Bibliography and Appendices

The bibliography of sources should include all sources cited in the dissertation as well as all sources which helped to formulate the approach to the topic, this is not included in the overall word count. All references should be cited using “Cite Them Right”, and dissertations should all conform to this referencing standard. Footnotes and/or Endnotes can be provided if students wish to further elaborate on a particular point made in the text of the dissertation. Students can also include an appendix which should include a sample of the questionnaire used, interview guides, sample interview transcripts (a minimum of three), reflective diary or any other secondary documentation referred to in the dissertation. Any material in the appendices in any language other than English must be translated for the benefit of the reader.

Dissertation Proposal

All students undertaking the dissertation option should submit a 1,500-word formative research proposal by November 30th 2017 outlining the research topic, research question and objectives, a brief review of the literature, the proposed methodology and a time plan for completion in Term 2. Students will be allocated a supervisor on the basis of their chosen topic.

Project Instructions


You have been asked to produce a postgraduate dissertation. It should contain the following:

  • Title Page, including the given title in full.
  • Word count; excluding abstract, appendices and reference list
  • Abstract (No more than 250 words and not included in the overall word count)
  • Contents Page
  • Introduction Chapter (500 words)
  • Literature Review (1,000 words)
  • Research Methodology (500 words)
  • Data Analysis (2,000 words)
  • Conclusion (500 words)
  • Recommendations (500 words)
  • Critical Reflection on Academic Skills and Employability (1,000 words)
  • Appendices, which should be numbered.
    • Make sure you refer your reader to them as required.


Your work should be word processed in accordance with the following:

  • Font style, Lucida Sans, font size 12
  • 1.5 line spacing.
  • The page orientation should be ‘portrait’
  • Margins on both sides of the page should be no less than 2.5 cm
  • Pages must be numbered
  • Your name should not appear on the script.
  • Your student number must be included on every page.


Skills Advice

Pay particular attention to:

  • Your introduction,
  • Your conclusion,
  • The use of headings and/or signpost words
  • Paragraph structure
  • Include any additional commentary on aspects of the dissertation in endnotes or footnotes (see Cite Them Right and Write it Right for details)

Do refer to Info skills at http://writeitright.uelconnect.org.uk/home/

 and http://infoskills.uelconnect.org.uk/


The university expects students to use Harvard referencing as specified in the book Cite them Right.

  • Refer to http://www.uel.ac.uk/lls/support/harvard.htm for further advice and a link to an online version of Cite them Right
  • You should be careful to include citations within your work as well as a reference list at the end. All coursework must be correctly referenced. Please see the following reference for details:


Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2010) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 8th          edn. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Word Count

Your word count should not include your abstract, contents, reference list or appendices. You should provide your word count at the end of your report. 

Exceeding the word count by more than 10% will result in a penalty of 10% of your marks for your work. 

If your work is significantly shorter, then you will probably have failed to provide the level of detail required.

Use of Turnitin

Your management project should be submitted on Turnitin. If you fail to submit, in accordance with the guidance provided you will be awarded a mark of 0.

There are two main reasons we want you to use Turnitin:

  • Turnitin can help you avoid academic breaches and plagiarism.  When you use Turnitin before a submission deadline, you can use the Originality Report feature to compare your work to thousands of other sources (like websites, Wikipedia, and even other student papers).  Anything in your work that identically matches another source is highlighted for you to see.  When you use this feature before the deadline, you will have time to revise your work to avoid an instance of academic breach/plagiarism. 
  • Turnitin saves paper.  In using Turnitin to electronically submit your project, you will not have to submit a paper copy. 

Late Submissions Using Turnitin

UEL allows students to submit their coursework up to 24 hours after the deadline.  Assessments that are submitted up to 24 hours late are still marked, but with a 5% deduction.  However, you have to be very careful when you are submitting your assessment.  If you submit your work twice, once using the original deadline link and then again using the late submission link on Turnitin, your assignment will be graded as late with the 5% deduction.

Turnitin System Failure

Best advice: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your assessments electronically.  If you experience a problem submitting your work with Turnitin, you should notify your lecturer/tutor by email immediately.  However, deadlines are not extended unless there is a significant systems problem with Turnitin.  UEL has specific plans in place to address these issues.  If UEL finds that the issue with the system was significant, you will receive an email notifying you that you have been given a 24-hour extensionIf you don’t receive an email the original deadline will NOT have been extended.

Feedback and return of work

Feedback on your work will be via Moodle and will be available within three weeks of submission. Please see your project-specific assessment handbook for more details. If you do not achieve a mark of 40 you will be required to submit your project for reassessment in Term 3 (July 2018).

Guidance on Referencing

As a student you will be taught how to correctly reference using UEL`s standard Harvard referencing system from Cite Them Right. Cite them Right is the standard Harvard referencing style at UEL for all Schools apart from the School of Psychology which uses the APA system. This book will teach you all you need to know about Harvard referencing, plagiarism and collusion.  The electronic version of “Cite Them Right: the essential referencing guide” 9th edition, can be accessed whilst on or off campus, via UEL Direct. The book can only be read online and no part of it can be printed nor downloaded.

Further information is available at:



Students who fail to submit the correct cover sheet will be penalised 10% of the marks.


HR6004 Marketing Dissertation Pathway Marking Scheme 


HR6004 Marketing Dissertation 

Student Number:…………………………… 



Max Mark

Actual Mark


Identification of a valid topic, research question and objectives framed to an appropriate standard with academic rationale developed, clear industry contextualisation of the research topic





Critical Literature Review

Depth and breadth of literature search, engagement with seminal authors and papers, evidence of a critical approach toward the scholarly literature





Research Methodology

Evaluation of research philosophies and perspectives. Justification of methodological approach, sampling strategy, data analysis and reliability and validity measures as applicable





Data Analysis and Interpretation

Evidence of rigor in data analysis and interpretation procedures, identification of key patterns and themes in the research data, integration of academic theory into explanation of findings




Conclusions and Recommendations

Research question and objectives addressed with implications to theoretical and managerial concepts considered. Recommendations provided for theory, practice and future research





Critical Reflection on Academic Skills and Employability

Students should reflect upon the skills developed during the module and project and how they envisage these improving their overall employability.




Organisation, presentation and references.

Well-structured and ordered dissertation with correct use of grammar and syntax. In-text citation and bibliography conforming to “Cite Them Right” 










General Comments:







Agreed Mark:


Extenuating Circumstances


Extenuating Circumstances are circumstances which: 


  • impair your examination performance in assessment or reassessment, or
  • prevent you from attending for assessment or reassessment, or
  • prevent you from submitting assessed or reassessed work by the scheduled date


If you need to apply for extenuating circumstances, please find the relevant information at:


Re-assessment Work:

You will need to retrieve this project if any of the following occur during the semester:

  • You fail to achieve 40% or more for this project
  • You fail to achieve 40% for the module and you failed to achieve 40% or more for this project.


You will be expected to complete a similar piece of work for your second attempt

Student Appeals

Students who wish to appeal against Field and Award Boards decisions can find the relevant information at:


Grading Criteria Used To Assess Work

Undergraduate Programmes:


General guidelines for standards expected at different levels of study.


Level 4

Level 5

Level 6


(70% or above)

Thorough understanding of relevant ideas.  Clear and well referenced argument.  Coherent structure.

Ideas critically analysed.  Argument is clear, succinct and well supported.  Evidence of a wide range of reading and some independent thought.

Critical work evidencing excellent synthesis and application of ideas.  Work is exceptionally well constructed and presented.

Upper Second


Sound understanding.  Well written and relevant argument.  Appropriately referenced.

Critical consideration of relevant ideas.  Arguments are precisely defined and appropriately referenced.  The work is structurally sound and well written.

Ideas are critically applied and coherently presented.  Evidence of wide reading and some originality.  Well referenced

Lower Second


Evidence of understanding and independent reading.  Adequate referencing, but some unsubstantiated material.  Weaknesses in spelling, structure & grammar.

Reasonable understanding of the relevant concepts, but some inconsistencies in application.  Arguments are referenced, but disjointed.  Poor structure, spelling or grammar.

Clear grasp of concepts and some critical application.  Appropriately referenced and relevant argument.  Reasonable structure and syntax.  Well presented



Indication of some understanding, but poor application of ideas.  Minimal referencing.  Generally weak structure.

Generally descriptive work with limited evidence of a critical consideration of ideas.  Inadequate referencing.  Weaknesses in structure, spelling and grammar.

Evidence of good understanding of issues, but crudely applied.  Work indicates some critical thinking, but tends towards description.  Argument may be unbalanced.  Poor structure and presentation


(below 40%)

Irrelevant or poorly analysed material.  Indication of weak grasp of concepts.  Inadequate structure.  Poor grammar and spelling.

Uncritical.  Poorly referenced.  Argument indicates little use of relevant literature.  Chaotic structure and generally badly written.

Poorly referenced and suggests inadequate exploration of relevant literature.  Chaotic structure and generally badly written.


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