NX0439 - Advanced Business Research


This module builds on participants' previous research skills and knowledge of research techniques to further enhance understanding of methodologies, methods and advanced techniques that are central to developing a coherent and well-argued research proposal. The underlying research philosophies are critically explored to enable business and management research to be contextualized and executed at the appropriate level, supported by exposure to advanced techniques of data collection and analysis. Throughout, development of doctoral level research skills is emphasized allowing participants to produce a research proposal commensurate with the level of study and in the context of their professional practice.
Within this module, a variety of vehicles are used to deliver material and support learning. In the taught blocks of this module, a combination of online lectures, online seminars and online workshops form the principal platform for delivery. This principal platform of delivery is supported by online media based around the eLearning portal. The taught blocks of this module can also be attended face-to-face. This is optional and the availability of these face-to-face sessions depends on the number of participants.
In addition, all students are also allocated a supervisor. For both full- and part-time study, participants will have online contact with their supervisor, to develop their 4000-word assignment (research proposal). We also offer students to attend face-to-face meetings with their supervisors.

Discussion of ethical considerations relating to the proposed research must accompany the proposal. (Throughout, emphasis is placed on encouraging participants to develop a critical and reflective approach to their work when developing this proposal.)


Bell, E. Bryman, A. and Harley, B. (2018) Business Research Methods (5th Ed). Oxford University Press.
Berenson, M., Levine, D., Szabat, K. A., & Krehbiel, T. C. (2012). Basic business statistics: Concepts and applications. Pearson higher education AU.

Bernard, H.R. and Ryan, G.W. (2009) Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches, Sage Publications.

Bryman, A. and Burgess, R. G. (1994) Analysing qualitative data. Routledge.

Bryman, A. and Cramer, D. (2011) Quantitative Data Analysis with IBM SPSS 17, 18 & 19. Routledge.

Cassell, C. and Symon, G. (2013) Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research, London, Sage

Blumberg, B., Cooper, D. and Schindler, P. (2014) Business Research Methods (4th Ed). McGraw-Hill.

Boland, A., Cherry, M.G. and Dickson, R. (2017) Doing a Systematic Review: A Student's Guide (2nd Ed). Sage.

Crotty, M. (1998) The Foundations of Social Research. Sage.

Cryer, P. (2006) The research students guide to success (3rd Ed). Open University Press.

Delanty, G and Strydom, P (2003) Philosophies of Social Science. Open University Press.

Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (2017) Handbook of qualitative Research (5th Ed). Sage.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. Jackson, P.R. and Jaspersen, L.J. (2018) Management and Business Research (6th Ed). Sage.

Field, A. (2017) Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics (5th Ed). Sage.

Gill, J. and Johnson, P. (2010) Research methods for managers (4th Ed). Sage.

Girden, E.R. and Kabacoff, R.I. (2010) Evaluating research articles: from start to finish (3rd Ed). Sage.

Hair, J.F., Page, M. and Brunsveld, N. (2020) Essentials of Business Research Methods. Routledge.

Hart, C. (2018) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Research Imagination (2nd Ed). Sage.

Johnson, P and Duberley, J (2000) Understanding Management Research. Sage.

Levine, D., Stephan, D. and Szabat, K. (2017) Statistics for Managers using Microsoft Excel (8th Ed). Pearson Education.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M. and Saldana, J. (2013) Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook (3rd Ed). Sage.

Richards, L. (2014) Handling qualitative data, (3rd Ed). Sage.

Saunders, M., Thornhill, A. and Lewis, P. (2018) Research Methods for Business Students, Pearson.

Sekaran, U. and Bougie, R. (2020) Research Methods for Business - A skill building approach (8th Ed). Wiley.

Sharma, S. (1996) Applied Multivariate Techniques. Wiley.

Silverman, D. (2019). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.
Silverman, D. (2013). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. SAGE publications limited.

Tabachnick, B. and Fidell, L (2013) Using Multivariate Statistics (6th Ed). Pearson Education.

Tashakkori, A.M., Johnson, R.B. and Teddlie, C.B. (2020) Foundations of Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Applied Social Research Methods), Sage.

Trafford, V. and Leshem, S. (2008) Stepping Stones to Achieving your Doctorate. Open University Press.

Williams, M (2003) Making Sense of Social Research. Sage.

Yin, R.K. (2018) Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods. Sage.

NBS and contemporary Research into Teaching

The session specific presentations and eLearning Portal include details of the NBS research (including academic staff's theses and research papers) and other contemporary research, which underpins teaching and learning.

Boadou,M., Sorour,M.K. (2015). On Utilising Grounded Theory in Business Doctoral Research: Guidance on the Research Design, Procedures and Challenges. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, V 10, 143-166 http://ijds.org/Volume10/IJDSv10p143-166Boadu0680.pdf

Kummitha, R. K. R. (2020). Smart technologies for fighting pandemics: The techno-and human-driven approaches in controlling the virus transmission. Government Information Quarterly, 101481.

Mahroof, K., Weerakkody, V., Onkal, D., & Hussain, Z. (2020). Technology as a disruptive agent: Intergenerational perspectives. Information Systems Frontiers, 22(3), 749-770.

Matheus, T., Saunders, M. N., & Chakraborty, S. (2017). Multiple dimensions of power influencing knowledge integration in supply chains. R&D Management, 47(5), 673-688.

Robson, A., & Hart, D. (2019). The post-Brexit donor: segmenting the UK charitable marketplace using political attitudes and national identity. International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, 16(2), 313-334.

Rocchi, M., Ferrero, I., & Beadle, R. (2020). Can Finance Be a Virtuous Practice? A MacIntyrean Account. Business Ethics Quarterly, 1-31.

Sarma, M., Matheus, T., & Senaratne, C. (2020). Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security: A New Pathway for Growth in Emerging Economies via the Knowledge Economy?. World Scientific Book Chapters, 51-67.


Philosophical Considerations: Ways of seeing and knowing

The nature of the world we study (ontology)
How we understand our knowing of the world (epistemology)
Approaches: positivism ‘versus’ interpretivism
Nature of subjectivism
The case for methodological pluralism

Quantitative Techniques

Review of descriptive statistics and inferential analysis.
Questionnaire design: Issues arising in developing measurement scales
Validity, reliability, scale development
Statistical modelling.
Introduction to multivariate techniques including principal components analysis, factor analysis, logistic analysis, discriminant analysis, cluster analysis.
Software for quantitative analysis

Qualitative Techniques

Review of interviewing and observation.
Text based data analysis techniques, e.g. coding, categorisation, precedent sorting, content analysis.
Representational ideas or construct based approaches such as cognitive mapping, influence diagrams.
Discourse analysis. Action research, grounded theory, ethnography.
Software for qualitative analysis.

Doctoral Research Skills

Developing a researchable question, hypotheses or relevant enquiry.
Developing a literature review and academic writing.
Online information resources and bibliography software.
Ethical issues in doctoral research.
Writing a proposal.
Paper critiques
Peer review and reflective practitionership


1. To provide an overview of the research process and further develop the necessary skills to research at doctoral level.

2. To develop a researchable question that addresses an area of practical significance within the participant’s domain of professional practice.

3. To critically examine and explore the ethical issues involved in carrying out doctoral research.

4. To provide a critical understanding of the key philosophical questions that the research process raises.

5. To enable participants to critically explore and reflect upon the philosophies that underpin their own research

6. To develop the knowledge to make informed choices pertaining to methodologies in a variety of research settings.

7. To expose participants to a selection of advanced qualitative and quantitative techniques of potential relevance to their doctoral research.

8. To critically reflect on the methods available and the potential inferences that can be made by resorting to more sophisticated techniques of business research.

9. To develop and design a coherent and well-argued thesis/portfolio proposal.


By the end of the module, the participant will be able to:

1. Reflect and build upon previous Masters level subject knowledge and research training to further develop expertise to carry out doctoral level research.

2. Critically appraise, scrutinise and reflect upon underlying epistemological and methodological assumptions in the research process, particularly in relation to their own research

3. Engage in a critical dialogue with peers on the philosophical and methodological approaches proposed in their research.

4. Critically discuss, defend and justify the appropriate methodologies and methods to be utilised in their research, and critically reflect on the proposed approach in the context of the ethical issues raised.

5. Construct and present a coherent, logically argued and structured document that forms a DBA/DBL proposal and details the area of investigation, its scope, the methodology and methods to be used, and which is underpinned by reference to a theoretical framework(s) informed by the relevant academic literature review and grounded firmly within professional practice.


A Masters qualification in a Business and Management (for DBA) or Business Leadership (for DBL) related area which includes a substantive study of the field, personal and professional development and research training resulting in a research dissertation. The research training and research element must equate to a minimum of 60 credits.

All students MUST provide a 1000-word proposal to ensure their chosen research topic reflects NBS expertise and can be supervised by an appropriate member of staff.




The taught blocks will be delivered online via various means using the Northumbria University Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). We offer the option of attending the taught block face-to-face. The availability of this option depends on the number of participants on the DBA/DBL programme.


A teaching and learning plan, which outlines the formal sessions, together with the tutor-directed study and independent reading, supports the module. An interactive approach to online lecture sessions will draw upon the directed learning undertaken and participants' own experiences. Throughout, the emphasis will be on high levels of participation, both individually and within small groups or teams. Participants can therefore expect the reflective-practitioner approach to learning to be embedded in all online workshop/seminar sessions through undertaking activities which facilitate them to apply theory to 'real-life' situations, critically analysing and making recommendations for appropriate ways forward for the organization/individual. Directed learning will centre upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for interactive activities and use of the discussion board on the e-learning platform.

Independent learning will centre upon the participants identifying and pursuing areas of interest in relation to the subject area or by providing deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities that might include extended reading, reflection, research etc.
Critical reflection on knowledge, experience and practice underpins the learning and teaching philosophy along with the explicit development of competence.

Throughout this module, a variety of vehicles is used to deliver material and support learning. Within the blocks, a combination of online lectures, seminars, workshops form the principal platform for delivery, but supported by online media based around the eLearning portal. The latter contains not only factual material but provides web-based links to further enhance understanding of research methods and a mechanism by which independent learning takes place by reference to up-to-date practical and academic accounts of the methods, tools and techniques of business research. By definition, students will be able to employ effective information searching strategies to identify and retrieve current literature relating to their research using appropriate information resource tools.

While the underlying academic theory is presented in the module, this is supplemented with practical case-based examples and supported by the use of relevant software to develop understanding of the complex techniques utilised.

Additionally, within this module, all participants receive online support from their module tutors and/or direct face-to-face contact where possible.

All students are also allocated a supervisor. For both full- and part-time study, participants will have online contact with their supervisor, to develop their 4000-word assignment (research proposal). We also offer students to attend face-to-face meetings with their supervisors


a) Summative assessment and rationale for tasks
One summative assessment is submitted and constitutes the research proposal for the main doctoral phase. This 4000-word pass/fail assignment should comprise of a coherent, logically argued and structured document detailing the area of investigation, its scope, the philosophical stance to be taken, and the methodology and methods to be used. Any anticipated ethical issues should also be discussed. The proposal will normally make reference to an appropriate theoretical framework informed by a succinct and targeted academic literature review, but grounded firmly within the student's professional practice. Evidence of a discussion of ethical considerations relating to the proposed research must be included.
Throughout, emphasis is placed on encouraging participants to develop a critical and reflective approach to their work when developing this proposal.
The assignment is assessed independently by the supervisor, by members of the module team and other NBS subject specialists, as appropriate.
The reassessment mechanism is a rework of the assignment, based on feedback given on the original submission.

b) Additional formative assessment - details of process and rationale
Formative assessment will take place through group work, assignment discussion and reflection, discussion board activity on the e-learning platform, case study activity, and theory/practice related discussions.
Criteria will be provided to enable participants to understand what is expected of them and how they will be assessed on their performance. Participants are required to demonstrate self-reflection and reflective practice where appropriate.

c) Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

Feedback on your summative performance in this module will be provided as follows: Your assessment will be returned to you with comments directly related to the assessment task. You will also be provided with a written comment on actions to be taken to improve performance in assessment overall.

Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module, particularly in relation to taught block tasks. Students should, however be aware that formative feedback can, and will, occur in any communication with an academic tutor and/or supervisor.

This University, and the School, is constantly seeking to improve its feedback to students and will pilot new initiatives on a regular basis. When such pilots involve a deviation from above, students on modules affected will be fully advised of the revised feedback approach.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Research

Mode of Study 3 years Part Time

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start October 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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