The dissertation is a compulsory 60-credit module and represents the final element of the MSc course. It provides an opportunity to apply aspects learned on your course and study them in greater depth. This is a student-centred module which requires you to undertake an extended piece of research. It provides you with an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in relation to a topic that interests you and demonstrate your conceptual understanding of a scholarly or practical question.


Module Aims

To develop the ability to undertake independent research in the area of marketing in the context of further academic research or consultancy. To carry out independent research of either a qualitative or quantitative nature. To identify theoretical issues underlying contemporary debates.



Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
This module develops a knowledge and understanding of:

  • Markets – the development and operation of markets for resources, goods and services.
  • Customers – customer expectations, service and orientation.


Intellectual skills
This module develops:

  • Being able to think critically and be creative: manage the creative processes in self and others; organise thoughts, analyse, synthesise and critically appraise. This includes the capability to identify assumptions, evaluate statements in terms of evidence, detect false logic or reasoning, identify implicit values, define terms adequately and generalise appropriately
  • Being able to solve complex problems and make decisions: establish criteria, using appropriate decision-making techniques including identifying, formulating and solving business problems; and the ability to create, identify and evaluate options; the ability to implement and review decisions
  • Using information and knowledge effectively: scanning and organising data, synthesising and analysing in order to abstract meaning from information and to share knowledge


Professional practical skills
This module develops:

  • The ability to conduct research into business and management issues either individually or as part of a team through research design, data collection, analysis, synthesis and reporting
  • Effective use of CIT


Transferable (key) skills
This module develops:

  • High personal effectiveness: critical self-awareness, self-reflection and self-management; time management; sensitivity to diversity in people and different situations and the ability to continue to learn through reflection on practice and experience
  • Effective two-way communication: listening, effective oral and written communication of complex ideas and arguments, using a range of media, including the preparation of business reports





Recommended Texts:

Swetnam, D. and Swetnam, R. (2013) Writing Your Dissertation: The Bestselling Guide to Planning, Preparing and Presenting First-Class Work, How To Books; 3rd Revised edition, ISBN: 185703662X

Ollhoff, J. How to Write a Literature Review, Amazon, ASIN: B004VMTT14



Proposal presentation

Prior to the approval of the proposed project topic, the student must complete a 5-10 minute oral presentation to the supervisor. You are welcome to use visual components (PowerPoint, etc) to support your oral communication of the topic of study, rationale for the dissertation and potential significance. You will gain formative feedback and a mark for this presentation but this mark does not affect your overall dissertation grade.


Evidence of data collection

Students should retain all the materials or records gathered for their data collection (raw data) until

after the final exam board in case they are required to produce them. Raw data includes video/audio file recordings, survey data, material downloaded for primary analysis etc. After the final exam board, you should ensure that you dispose of any personal information in accordance with your ethical protocol.


Transcription requirements

For those dissertations using qualitative methods, you should include a minimum of one verbatim interview (the richest for example) and place it in the appendix. Transcription is generally considered essential to gain immersion in the data and to facilitate rigorous coding, so you may wish to transcribe more than the minimum. Summaries of the content of additional interviews/group discussions are acceptable due to the time it takes to transcribe audio/video recordings. Other evidence of analytical rigour should be included in the appendix, such as the process of moving from emergent codes to axial codes and how these then support discrete themes shown via tables, flow charts or thematic maps.


Dissertation structure, word count, and main assessment criteria

This is an indicative structure, word count, and main assessment criteria for the Marketing Dissertation, outlining the components we normally expect you to include. Some variation in terms of content, structure, and relative word counts may be acceptable with the advice of your supervisor. You must gain consent from your supervisor for deviations from this structure and content.





Marketing Dissertation
Section of the Dissertation Word Count Main Criteria



Approx. 500 words

Use of Abstract and table of contents to help the reader understand the dissertation.


  • Abstract draws out the purpose and main conclusions of the work.


Table of Contents (including list of Tables and Figures)
  • Structure is easy to follow and logical in its flow.


Introduction, including Research Question(s)


Here you give an overview of the marketing topic and focus of the dissertation, and the main objectives and rationale of your research.



Approx. 1,000 to 1,500 words

Subject chosen – appropriateness of topic and level of difficulty.


  • Topic is of managerial and theoretical interest.
  • Appropriate level of topic difficulty in terms of material available and complexity of subject chosen.
Literature Review/Theory Chapters


You literature review should draw upon relevant and current academic research in the topic area. It should discuss and synthesise the literature, and show how theories and/or models from the literature inform your specific research questions.


Approx. 3,500 – 4,000 words

Usefulness of appropriate literature and references to develop a framework for the investigation, the analysis, and the discussion of findings.  Relevance and a critical use of sources.


·        Useful, applicable, relevant and appropriate literature is used.

·        Critical evaluation and interpretation of theory, concepts and models is present.

·        Literature reviewed is integrated and made coherent.

·        Discussion demonstrates understanding, synthesising of ideas, and a competent command of the topic of concern.

·        Literature review is well supported using citations from academic reading using the Harvard citation and referencing system.

Methodology, including Summary of Research Objectives (e.g. hypothesis or propositions)


Here you summarise the objectives of your research study, and state clear, focused, and specific research questions.


You then outline the methodological approach you wish to take, and how you intend to implement this (i.e. methods), and (following data collection) the characteristics of your data (i.e. sample, response rate, participation in interviews or focus groups, etc.).





Approx. 1,500 – 2,500 words

Definition of research issue and outline of study.  Rationale for study and clarity of statement of the purposes and methods used.


·        Derivation of research issue(s) is based on literature review.  Rationale of the study is made clear.

·        Clear, focused, and specific research objectives are given.

·        Realistic, feasible, and attainable research objectives are given.


Appropriateness of the methods used in relation to the topic chosen.  Rigorousness and extent to which they have been implemented.


·        Choice of method used and justification.

·        Suitable description of what was done, when, how and why.

·        Relevance of data sources.

·        Forethought applied and preparation for fieldwork undertaken.

·        Clear relationship of fieldwork instrument(s) developed to research objectives.

·        Effort made to overcome or compensate for data collection difficulties.


Findings and Discussion


Here you present the findings from your data collection, and the results of your analysis of the data.


You will need to discuss in depth what the findings mean in relation to the research questions examined and the prior research covered in your literature review.



Approx. 3,500 – 4,000 words

Competence of analysis and assessment of findings.  There should be a demonstration of thorough analysis in the findings and critical evaluation in the discussion.


·        Work shows an appropriate analysis and assessment of findings.

·        Findings and their discussion are well related to the material covered in the literature review.  Good interpretation of data in relation to the theory covered previously.

·        Clear rationale for the arguments and logic presented in the analysis is present.  Good use of data, supporting the analysis with evidence from the data collected.

·        Clarity of presentation.  Use of diagrams, charts, models, interview quotes, etc.

·        Drawing out the main findings against the research objectives is present.


Conclusions, managerial recommendations, and further suggested research


Here you are to give a summary of your main findings, and relate these to specific managerial implications for practice.


You should also identify any limitations to your research study (i.e. limitations in your data, access to information, alternative methodological approaches, etc.).


You should also consider what future research might be useful given your findings.



Approx. 2,000 to 2,500 words

Quality of conclusions and recommendations.


·        Appropriate conclusions are made based on the findings.

·        Conclusions should focus on the implications and consequences of your analysis, be managerially and theoretically relevant.  Links should be made between conclusions and practical application, with clear implications for managerial practice.

·        Limitations of the research are stated.  Personal assessment of areas of the research which could have been improved or alternative ways of conducting such research where the student to do it again is presented.

·        Relevant and appropriate suggestions for future research are made.


References ·        Adherence to conventions and standards given, including use of Harvard citation and referencing method.


Appendix (optional)


·        Copy of the measuring instrument/s (e.g. pre- and post-pilot questionnaires, interview schedule, focus group discussion guide, content analysis codesheet etc.)

·        Evidence of data analysis (e.g. statistical workings, interview/focus group transcripts, fieldnotes, interview summaries, screenshots, coding procedures, images/stills)

Presentation Presentation, including layout and structuring of material (i.e. neatness, style and clarity). 


·        Structure and layout.  Use of appropriate sections and sub-structure.

·        Style and writing skills, use of English grammar and spelling.

·        Readability.  Clarity and ease of reading.



Approx. 12,000 to 15,000 words


All sections with indicated word counts (above) are included in   the final dissertation word count (Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Findings, Discussion, Conclusions).