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NBS8973 : Challenging Practice Through Research

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Patterson
  • Lecturer: Professor Sharon Mavin
  • Owning School: Newcastle University Business School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
Semester 3 Credit Value: 40
ECTS Credits: 30.0


The aim of this practice-based module is to enable learners to develop and enhance, to an advanced
level, their knowledge, understanding and practice in Challenging Practice Through Research. The module will provide learners with the opportunity to identify and evidence an issue in practice to articulate a clear topic and questions and to enhance their skills in challenging individual, organisational and global practices through empirically-based investigation. By the end of the module, learners will have:

•       Identified: an issue in practice for investigation (for MSc Strategic Leadership this should be a strategic issue with benefit to the organisation and stakeholders; for MSc Coaching and Mentoring this should be an issue with benefit to the profession and its stakeholders); appropriate research skills, methods and review of existing knowledge; approaches to leadership and change to support the investigation and potential implementation; assumed financial implications and, any related ethical and sustainability issues.
•       Evaluated sources of professional, organisational and academic literature for justifying and conducting practice-based research
•       Advanced knowledge of their specified topic area/discipline
•       Integrated key critical thinking and analysis of relevant skills (e.g., for MSc Strategic Leadership, leadership and change skills, for MSc Coaching and Mentoring, coaching and mentoring skills) by Challenging Practice through Research

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will include topics such as:

•       Writing a practice-based research proposal for business and academic audiences
•       Developing effective group supervision relationships
•       Understanding the practice context to identify potential topics and researchable questions
•       Criteria for evaluating ‘good’ practice-based research, e.g. access, achievable in the time available, value and scope
•       Positioning and understanding a practice-based issue in relation to existing literature in order to
•       articulate with clarity the topic, questions and potential impact.
•       Gaining organisational support and access to data
•       Considering the issue, where relevant, from a wide variety of perspectives including social, economic, political, religious, ethical and cultural
•       Issues of power, place, identity and voice, as a practice-based researcher: examining own strengths and weaknesses; understanding personal biases; reflective/reflexive practice
•       Adopting an ethical approach to research; ethical principles and practice and researching ethically
•       in your own organization; rights and responsibilities of an insider as researcher
•       Thinking critically about theory and practice; different forms of knowledge
•       The process of critically evaluating sources, including comparing and contrasting international and
cross-cultural data
•       Research Methods for Challenging Practice through Research including sampling, questionnaire, observation, interview, focus group, methods of analysis (with guest lectures/case studies related to practice-based research)
•       Methodologies for Challenging Practice through Research, including action research and
collaborative inquiry (with guest lectures/case studies related to Challenging Practice through
•       Criteria for evaluating practice-based research, to ensure rigour, credibility and value
•       Evaluating the potential professional, organisational, societal and global impact, including in relation to the SDGs, of the practice-based research project
•       Evaluating your professional credibility to lead and manage practice-based research and influence its potential impact
•       Methods for communicating throughout the design, management and leadership of the practice based research
•       Contributing to practice changes, through clear recommendations

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture36:0018:00PiP: Offered as 3 x 1 full days
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion3001:00300:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00Designed to broaden and deepen knowledge
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision51:005:00Group supervision to enable social learning to support learners practice based project
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study2411:00241:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDistance Learning Advance Preparation121:0012:00Online learning activities designed to support scheduled face-to-face learning
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods recognise the importance of learners learning about context, content and processes for their own individual and organisational development of advanced professional practice.

The teaching and learning methods support achievement of the module’s learning outcomes. The processes of teaching and learning, within this blended learning module, include but are not limited to the following: Face-to-face and online opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of theory in practice are provided through attending lectures, listening to and watching podcasts and/or videos, reading and research, and work-based and reflective learning. Learning through dialogue, discussion and collaboration, in face-to-face teaching and online, enables students to articulate, respond to and provide feedback on theory, knowledge and practice application, and to question and challenge their work-based practices. Collaborative social learning, online and in the classroom, is a hallmark of the module and will involve peer learning, co-production of knowledge and ideas about practice, and feedback.

As a post-experience programme, contextualising theory in practice requires not only academic input but also practitioners’ knowledge and expertise and, therefore, some lectures or workshops will be taught by adjunct staff. Reflection on practice, through completion of a reflective journal, supports the learner to evaluate their understanding of the relevant subject knowledge, and to question and challenge their work-based practices, through applying and integrating theory in practice.

Students are expected to enhance their face-to-face and online learning by independent reading and enquiry, for which they are given guidance on relevant materials.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report3M606,000 words Research Report
Research proposal2M404,000 word Research Proposal
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is provided throughout the module by encouraging learners to respond to questions and engage in reflection, dialogue, debate and discussion in online and face-to-face contexts. Collaborative learning, online and in the classroom, is a hallmark of the module and involves co-production of knowledge and ideas about practice, and feedback.

Summative Feedback

The module assessment enables learners to achieve the learning outcomes and to consolidate their learning by articulating their conceptual understanding and how it is used to challenge practice through research. For learners on the MSc Strategic Leadership, the focus of the challenge project will be strategic leadership and/or related topics. For learners on the MSc Coaching and Mentoring, the focus of the challenge project will be coaching and mentoring and/or related topics.

The assessment has 2 components:

1.       A Challenging Practice Through Research Project Proposal, of 4,000 words, including but not limited to; evidence of the academic and organisational justification for the topic and questions, the conceptual framework for the research, a justification of and timetable for the research methods, and evaluation of potential impact at personal, organisational and societal levels.

2. A Challenging Practice Through Research Project Report, of 6,000 words, including but not limited to Executive summary, introduction, background and aims, research methodology, findings, analysis and recommendations, conclusions, appendices.

Summative feedback on the assessment will include ‘feed forward’, enabling learners to improve future academic and/or practice action.

Reading Lists