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Number of Aston Credits: 15

Number of ECTS Credits: 7.5

Staff Member Responsible for the Module:

Professor Nick Lee, Marketing Group

ABS Building, Room 229, Extension 3152
Availability: please sign up at
Or please see Darshan Kitare, NB 218, Extension 3147

Pre-requisites for the Module:

None – but should be comfortable working with PCs

Module Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

This module is primarily designed to prepare students to conduct their dissertations in
marketing, or to conduct rigorous research in their later careers. Furthermore, the course
should help all students deal with research in their later career choices. More specifically,
managers and research professionals require an understanding of the research process
itself, as well as the underlying concepts involved in research, in order to have confidence
in the results of any research they may conduct or commission. The course is
academically-focused rather than specifically concerned with ‘market-research’
(etc.) such as that done in agencies. Academic thinking is a skill which has wider
benefits to students that simply learning the latest ‘marketing fad’. It teaches students to
think originally and conceptually, and analyse in a critical manner, rather than follow a
‘cookbook’ to solve problems. These are the key skills needed for senior management.
If you do not believe me, please ask a senior manager that you know. The module has
two main pedagogical objectives, a) to prepare students philosophically for doing their
dissertation and other research in the future, and b) to prepare students technically for
doing and evaluating research (e.g. in later life as well as dissertation).

Student learning objectives are:

To develop detailed knowledge of the research process in general, and the various
approaches available. This objective should be achieved by preparing for, and
attending, class and tutorials, by reading the suggested texts and should be reinforced
by the project work.
To develop an understanding of the options available to researchers in various
research settings, and the implications of choosing one option over another. This
objective should be achieved by preparing for, and attending, class and tutorials, by
reading the suggested texts and should be reinforced by the project work.

To encourage critical thinking about marketing research. Here, the focus is on

evaluating the utility of different research approaches, and to identify alternative routes
in order to better meet the research objectives. This objective should be achieved via
class and tutorial preparation or attendance, and critical reading. It is reinforced by the
project work.

Module Content:
It is important to note that the content of this module is quite unique, and thus there is only
one textbook which fully covers all areas in the required depth (the required reading,
written by Dr. Lee). This book is also used in BMM603 Market Research, so it is an
essential purchase. Additional course readings may also be given when appropriate.
However, at the beginning of each lecture, Dr. Lee will advise on which of the readings is
most important for the coming week.

Required readings for each lecture are from the book ‘Doing Business Research’ (DBR),
and are indicated below in bold italic. Students must read the DBR readings before each
lecture, as well as any relevant additional readings. Additionally, it is anticipated that
academic articles will be used for tutorials, these will be given to students as and when

Students should also note that content in this course is also linked with content in
‘Marketing Research’ (BMM603). Students should take some care to try to develop an
appreciation of the key differences and similarities in both courses. This will allow a full
appreciation of commercial and academic marketing research. In addition, the course text
from BMM603 (Churchill and Iacobucci 2009) is used at times as supplementary reading
for this course.

Week Lecture: Topic & Preparation

1 What is Science? Introduction to Scientific Method and Philosophy of Science.
(DBR chapters 1, 2)
2 Alternative Philosophical Frameworks for Social Science ((DBR chapters 3, 15)
3 Reviewing the Literature (DBR chapter 4)
4 Theory Development, Hypotheses, and Conceptual Models (DBR chapter 5)
5 Research Design (DBR chapter 8)
6 Data Collection (DBR chapter 9, 11)
7 Survey Design (Course reading in pack)
8 Measurement Theory. (DBR chapters 6,7)
9 Reading Week and Revision Surgery (DBR chapter 15, 16)

International Dimensions:
In today’s environment, international and cross-cultural research is conducted as a matter
of course. As a result, these issues are covered where relevant. This can be in examples
used, cases examined, or the lecture content. It is the belief of the lecturer that the
international dimension of research can not be realistically ‘shoehorned’ into one
dedicated lecture and then ignored. Thus, international aspects of research are covered
holistically throughout the course and introduced where relevant.

Corporate Connections:
While this course is primarily concerned with academic research, its content has been
developed with input from senior market research executives on both client and agency
sides. As a result key methodologies and concepts are covered which are applicable to
professional and academic marketing research. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the
skills of conducting original academic research are vital to your progression as a senior
manager – i.e. the ability to think for yourself.

Contribution of Research:
Leading-edge academic research contributes to this module throughout the year. Prof.
Lee has made a significant contribution to research methodology through publication and
academic seminars, particularly in the fields of measurement and quantitative methods.
Many of the concepts covered in the course are directly drawn from his recent work and
that of other leading colleagues within the field.

Method of Teaching:
The module is taught by a variety of techniques including Lecture and Tutorial. The course
will consist of 8 formal lectures delivered in Term 1, as well as a revision/project surgery
week in week 9. Lectures will present the key conceptual, methodological and theoretical
aspects of research methodology. These are supplemented by Tutorial sessions, which
may involve practical exercises related to the lecture topic, or case work. The topics of the
tutorials are never confirmed prior to the start of the course, due to the ever-changing
nature of the research environment. However, it is anticipated that a considerable number
of these tutorials will involve reading and evaluating academic articles, in order to help
students prepare for their dissertation. Where relevant, preparation for these sessions is
required and candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge
and understanding of key issues and concepts. In order to fully benefit from the course,
reading the appropriate Chapters and course pack readings prior to the class is expected.
Any further reading will be made available in good time for preparation.

Method of Assessment:
In order to best achieve the pedagogical objectives of the course, the course will be
assessed in the form of one group assignment, worth 30% of the marks and one final
exam worth 70% of the marks.

The group assignment will be in the form of an ‘ARTICLE THEORY CRITIQUE AND
EXTENSION’. Full details (including the marking schedule) will be given to students during
the early lectures. However, in brief, students will be required to select one piece of
academic literature from a list given by Dr Lee, and develop a detailed academic critique
of that article, including the philosophical perspective, theoretical development, and
contribution of the findings to theory. Instructions will be given in more detail in the
assignment brief. This assessment will be worth 30% of the total marks.

Students will be expected to apply what they have learned from the course (not only
lectures, but readings and tutorials) to the project. Furthermore, reading outside the
specific lectures should be evident in good projects, and students will be expected to do
some ‘self-directed’ study in order to achieve good marks.. Furthermore, students should
find this project of substantial help to their efforts to produce a dissertation.

Learning Hours:
Over the ten study weeks of this module, students are expected to spend 150 hours in
classes, tutorial sessions, reading, class preparation and preparation of coursework. An
indicative balance of student workload is as follows:

Lectures 14
Tutorials/ Surgery Sessions 15
Directed reading/ Class Prep. 50
Project Preparation 30
Exam Preparation 40
Total 150

NB: The breakdown of hours presented is not necessarily indicative of actual timings, and
may be adjusted in-line with module learning outcomes

Study Weekend:
If required, the study weekend will be designed to supplement the distance-learning
course materials and deliver a focused and beneficial learning experience to distance-
learners. While full details are yet to be confirmed (to allow for flexibility in design), it is
anticipated that the session will be in the form of a student-centered surgery session.
Specific issues concerning the course content can then be addressed, and significant time
will be spent on issues regarding the assignment work.

Essential Reading:
The course text is:

Lee, N with Lings I (2008) Doing Business Research, Sage

This book is specifically written for M625, by me. Students are required to read the
relevant chapters and would be well advised to purchase the book as soon as possible.

Additional essential and advanced reading is given on the reading list on blackboard.
BMM602 Group Assignment: Article Critique
The aim of this assignment is to apply your emerging knowledge to a real situation
concerning academic research, and help you in conducting your dissertation.
Consequently, the effort you put in here will pay off many times over when you write your
dissertation. Your task is to write an assignment on ONE ARTICLE, provided to you by
Prof. Lee. Each group will have a separate article. This project should have the following

You should provide a synthesis and summary of the article in terms of theory,
methods, and overall findings. Here, you will also need to look at other related articles,
to show why this area is important.
You should critically evaluate the research paradigm (e.g. traditional science versus
interpretivist/post-positivist) evident in the articles, and how they relate to the methods
used. You will need to compare this article to other related articles to do this.
You should critically evaluate the ‘theory’ from the article. Describe the theoretical base
of the article, and evaluate its strength using the tools in the course and readings.
Evaluate the strength of the hypotheses, and critically discuss it.
Critically analyse the research design and measurement.
You should determine a ‘research gap’ – what doesn’t this article tell us in the area that
seems important? In order to justify why this is important, you will need to look at other
articles in the area as well. Explain this research gap, and give ideas for future
research projects which could be conducted to fill the gap.

The proposal MUST be structured with the following headings, ASSIGNMENTS


1. Introduction: Introduce the article, the general topic, and provide some indication of
why it is an important topic of investigation to theory and practice (5 Marks)
2. Article Summary: Provide a synthesis and summary of the chosen article, including its
key findings (section 1 above, 5 Marks)
3. Research Paradigm: Provide a description, discussion and critical evaluation of the
research paradigm evident in the article, (section 2, 15 Marks)
4. Theory: Provide a description and critical evaluation of the theory in the article (section
3. 10 Marks)
5. Hypotheses: Provide a critical evaluation of the hypotheses (section 4, 15 Marks)
6. Research Design: Critically analyse the research design and measurement (section 5,
15 Marks).
7. Research Gap: Describe and discuss one area for future research. This discussion
should provide a clear description of what this future research should be, why it is
important, and how best to conduct research to fill the gap (section 6, 15 Marks)
8. Conclusions: Sum your work up, and summarise what you have done (5 Marks)
9. References: (5 Marks)

Spelling, grammar, and presentation will be given a value of 10 Marks. I expect a high
standard of this, and students who are not confident in their written English should avail
themselves of the opportunities Aston provides to improve. The Postgraduate Support
Team are aware of the additional support available for students with their written English
and I advise contacting them.

The word limit is 3000 words not including references and any technical appendices
(e.g. mathematical formulae, measuring instruments, etc.).

Assignments have a MINIMUM of 2500 words, and a MAXIMUM of 3500.