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NBS8991 : Challenge Research Project (PT MBA)

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jenny Davidson
  • Lecturer: Dr Joanne James
  • 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 you to develop and enhance, to an advanced level, your knowledge, understanding and practice of conducting a Challenge Research Project. The module will provide you with the opportunity to enhance your skills of challenging individual, organisational and global practices through research. By the end of the module, you will have:

•Identified: an issue in practice for investigation 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 your specified topic area/discipline
•Integrated key critical thinking and analysis of relevant skills

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 ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00PiP Lectures (and workshops) scheduled in blocks
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1547:00547:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops64:0024:00PiP Collaborative learning space for applying content to learner's context, scheduled in blocks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision51:005:00group supervision
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
Research proposal2M40Strategic Proposal 4000 words
Dissertation3M606000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal2M500 word outline/initial proposal
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. There is also a formative assessment, a 500 word outline/initial proposal, which provides a further opportunity for feedback. More details on this assessment component can be found below.

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 in practice. The assessment has 3 components:

Formative: Challenging Practice Through Research - Initial / Outline Proposal
Initial Outline Proposal to include:
•       The practice issue and benefit to organisation
•       How you intend to investigate (research methods, secondary sources etc.)
•       Expected change and leadership model approach
•       Feasibility of implementation of outcomes/new strategy
•       Related ethical and sustainability issues
•       Project plan/timeline

Summative – Two Components
Component 1: Challenging Practice Through Research Proposal (4000 words)

Challenging Practice Through Research Proposal (40%) including but not limited to:

•       An executive summary
•       The practice issue for challenge, scope, justification.
•       Guiding research question and objectives
•       Proposed change management and leadership approach
•       Specific innovations and technologies to be explored
•       What is already known: academic, professional and organisational literature/secondary sources
•       Who will be involved and how: stakeholders and research approaches/methods and timetable
•       Data to be generated and assumed (strategic) value
•       Consideration of financial/efficiency implications and impact on ethics/sustainability specifically the SDG's
•       Consideration of risk
•       Project plan / timescales
•       Reference list.
•       Appendix:
o       Evidence of evidence of board or senior leader sign-off as feasible and of benefit to the organisation
o       Plan for implementation, including communications and any stakeholder plans
o       Any key performance indicators for new strategy / approach

Summative – Component 2: Challenging Practice Through Research Project (6000 words)
A Research report, of 6,000 words 60%, including but not limited to:

•       Executive summary
•       Introduction to the background, the practice issue for challenge, scope, justification and guiding research question and objectives

•       Change and Leadership approach to investigating the practice issue
•       Research methodology and outline of appropriate data collection with key stakeholders
•       Findings and analysis drawing upon the review of secondary sources and academic literature
•       Options for implementation, feasibility, mapping to SDG's and financial implications
•       Recommendations
•       Conclusions
•       Appendices:
o       Ethical approval of research

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

Reading Lists