SOE11149 001 – MBA Capstone Project Assessment Guidelines

1. Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy for this module includes two components:

  1. Group Project Proposal Outline Presentation (10%);

Individual Reflective Log (15%)

(Assessment Component 1 = a total of 25%)*

  • Individual Research Project Report(Assessment component 2) (75%);

*component one consists of both the research report and reflective log

To pass the module, you are required to have a minimum grade of F1 in each component 1 and an overall mark of P1.

Assessment Components  Type of assessmentWeightingLengthWeek due
Assessment Component 1 Project ProposalOral presentation (group work)10% of the total mark10 minutes + 5 minutes for Q&As6
Assessment Component 2 Research Project Report  Written Report (individual work)75% of the total mark8,000 words14
Assessment Component 1 Reflective LogReflective Log15% of the total markReflect on your own/others’ contribution and your teamwork15

Table 1. Assessment strategy of SOE11149 MBA Capstone Project

1.1 Selection of the Company – Case Study

The two components of this assessment are strongly interconnected and interrelated but component 1 has teamwork and individual reflection on this whilst component 2 is entirely individual. For the group allocation, in Trimester 1, you need to choose your group.  You will receive an email via Moodle inviting you to self-select your group.  If you do not meet the deadline for this, the Module Leader will allocate you to a group and you will not be allowed to change groups.  You will work with your team of up to 5 students and choose your company from the list provided. Subsequently, the teams shall select a business problem for investigation and prepare/present a proposal for case study research based on this.

Teams should identify a business problem and select a company to be investigated as a case study and deploy the knowledge background acquired during the face-to-face lectures and tutorials to:

  • Identify and analyse the relevant situation of the business problem (s) in order to apply theory in the case of the selected company;

Working individually*, you should then:

  • Critically evaluate the process and strategies of the selected company by applying theory (i.e. literature review and secondary data analysis) and compare with other case studies; and
  • Provide recommendations

Building previously in Management Research – SOE11148, the Capstone project takes you through the practicalities of undertaking an extended project using case study research at postgraduate level. It sets out to nurture critical reflection and research-based skills. This module examines the application of various methods for identifying business-related issues, conducting literature review which will contextualise such problems in existing academic debates. You will be expected to collect and analyse secondary data, applying appropriate research methods, discussing and critiquing the results of your research activities, and providing informed recommendations which can contribute to improve performance in your chosen case-study organisation.

Teamwork is a key component of this module. You are expected to complete the proposal stage and early data gathering/problematisation as a member of a small group. Your team will then present this proposal for feedback from your supervisor.  After approval of your case company and identified problem focus you will work individually to produce your final report and reflective log.

The selection of the business problem should be identified in the one of the following fields: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Human Resource Management, Organisational Behaviour, Financial Services/Banking, Strategic Project Management, Intercultural Competence, International Relations, Technology, Leadership, Marketing and Public Relations, or Supply Chains and Logistics. For example, In the area of technology your chosen company may have an opportunity to move into an area that they have not previously embraced such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), If selecting a topic in the Human Relations area it may be an issue, created by COVID-19 for example such as employee engagement.  Your work could draw from more than one of these areas e.g.   you may examine technical opportunities to deal with environmental concerns or supply chain difficulties that you have identified (either now or as a likely future concern) at your selected company.  Your concern may be to improve performance, management or strategy or to propose innovative solutions. Whatever your field of interest, the distinctive need for case studies arises out of the desire to understand complex social structures. In identifying the field, a case study will be written which allow your team to focus in depth on the case (i.e. the chosen company or one of its sub-divisions).

Successful completion of this module can be achieved through your interaction with others (i.e. your team members, teaching staff and your supervisors) together with your own independent learning and team working. Remember your case study report  should be written alone. You should not collaborate in any way on the writing of your final individual report and the usual guidance on academic conduct applies.

Component 2 (the individual work) will be in the form of an 8,000-word written report of the case study including case study analysis.

You are required to deploy the knowledge background obtained during the Management Research module teaching and the online lectures and tutorials to:

(1) Identify an issue and company (from the list)

(2) critically evaluate the selected issue in relation to your chosen company by applying theory (i.e. literature review and secondary data analysis) and compare with other case studies/companies; and

(3) provide recommendations for your selected company.

No primary research is to be undertaken for this project.

The selection of the company is to be from the list below:

  • Toyota
  • Sony
  • Nestle
  • Walt Disney
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • PepsiCo

There is information available in relation to all of these companies and they are all Forbes listed.  You can access secondary data, such as digital data sources, through the Internet. Secondary data sources are fundamental for conducting an investigation and research analysis to complete both assessment components and they include, for example: official websites; newsletters, reports, white papers, patents and legal documents published by the company under investigation; academic articles; books; book chapters; articles in magazines and newspapers; social media posts and pages; and blogs.

2. Assessment Component 1: Project Proposal Presentation

2.1 Presentation delivery

The Project Proposal Presentations are to be scheduled for Week 6 (see Table 1 teaching schedule in the Module Handbook) and will last for 15 minutes, i.e. 10 minutes for delivering the presentation and 5 minutes for Q&As.

Text Box: Please note that due to the Covid-19 emergency, the Project Proposal Presentations will be delivered online.

Every member of your team must be actively involved not only in the production of the presentation but also must be present for its delivery and be prepared to answer the questions from your Supervisor. Your team can agree one or two presenters given the time available.  Every group member should however contribute as the presentation is developed and be prepared to answer questions (these may be to the group or directed at individuals) in the Q & A session. 

Those who do not participate in the preparation for the presentation and delivery of it will be likely to obtain an F6 for non-submission.

Please remember that you must achieve at least F1 for each component and a P1 overall to pass the MBA Capstone Module.

2.2 Submission date and method

You are required to upload a digital copy of your Project Proposal Presentation PPT slides, into the box of “Submission Area for Assignment 1” on the relevant SOE11149 Moodle page. Submissions must be uploaded before 23:59 (UK time) on the required submission date. Please submit only 1 copy per team. Only one team member should submit this.

The submission date for this assignment is due in Week 6 at a time agreed with your supervisor. Please use the following naming convention for uploading your files: SOE11149_TR2[Number of the Group]. For example, SOE11149_TR2_ Group1.pdf.

2.3 Instructions

The Project Proposal Presentation should be composed of no more than 12 slides and must include the following contents, which you will be grouping in 6 sections:

  1. Introduction: an overview of the selected company, including its size, location and history;
  • Historical development: brief discussion of the story of your chosen company and its evolution. Please organize the discussion as a temporal sequence of events and, considering the time constraint, focus attention only on the main events;
  • Business Problem/ Research Questions: the business problem to be examined for the selected company and the motivation (aim and research objectives) for this research.

Outline the specific field to be investigated; Identify and present the relevant situation (s) for doing the case study;

  • Literature Review: identify theory to be applied and appropriated to your case study, at least six pieces of relevant literature.
  • Data Sources: discussion of the data sources that the team has already used to analyse the company’s approach to the field of business management and the data sources that you are planning to add for completing the report.

In addressing all sections, the presentation should provide clear evidence of critical thinking within the presentation and all the sections need to be covered. In addition, please pay attention to the quality of the presentation and its delivery, for which marks will be allocated. A reference list should be included on your final slide.

2.4 Feedback and marks

The assessment criteria for this component are discussed in Appendix A to this guide.

Feedback and marks will be provided.

3. Assessment Component 2: Individual Written Report

3.1 Submission date and method

The PDF version of your Individual Research Project Report shall be uploaded to the “Submission Area for Assignment 2” section on the Moodle page of SOE11149 Capstone Project.  Text format should be used font size 12 Aerial and line spacing 1.5.

The Report must be uploaded before 23:59 UK time on Wednesday 05th May 2021.

The Reflective log should be submitted a week later by 23:59 UK time on Wednesday 12th May 2021.

The report must be 8,000 words (+/- 10%). When counting your words, please exclude the text in figures, Title Page and Table of Contents, Executive Summary, References and Appendices. The word count must be included on the Title Page.

3.2 Instructions

You should write a report in order to present your case which involved elements of collecting, organising and analysing data which undertake investigation through literature review (i.e. articles, reports, books) and other secondary data. The feedback provided on the component 1: your teamwork Project Proposal Presentation will be helpful to prepare your individual report. You should provide clear evidence of critical thinking. In addition, please pay attention to the quality of the presentation of your report, for which marks will be allocated.

You should use the following structure:

1. Title page (your name and matriculation number) and the Table of Contents.

2. Executive Summary (not included in the word count but approximately 500 words): an executive summary is a comprehensive review of a larger document or research project. It includes why you decided on this project topic, the key elements of investigation and finally, your major conclusions and recommendations (CMI – Study Guide, 2017).

  • Suggested reading for a good executive summary:
  • Basic of Executive Summaries

  • Good and poor examples of executive summaries

3. Introduction

    Context setting/identifying the problem (approximately 800 words)

This section should contain an overview of the research context, leading to the problem identification and a clear set of aims and objectives. You also need to highlight the value of the proposed research and explain the structure of the following key sections of the scoping study. If appropriate this discussion should be located within the industry/organisational/business unit context (some detail may usefully be placed in your appendices).

4. Literature Review (approximately 4,000 words):

This section should present a critical review of the current state of knowledge in the area chosen or investigation, locating your project in its theoretical context. This includes a review of relevant models, concepts and theories that are brought together into a basic conceptual framework (key themes/issues) that will be used to guide your project. These must be underpinned by correct referencing, including an appropriate range and depth of citations to relevant and current literature.

So far, your group have reviewed at least 6 literature sources and presented these in the Assessment component 1 – Project Proposal Presentation.  You should now work individually to expand the range of sources and review the literature.

Conducting a critical literature review means combining knowledge and understanding on what has been written, evaluation and judgement skills, and an ability to structure these into a clear a logical argument (Sanders and Rojon, 2011). Mingers (2000) identifies four aspects of the critical approach:

  • Critique of rhetoric: evaluating a problem with the use of effective language and making reasoned judgements.
  • Critique of tradition. Challenging conventional wisdom.
  • Critique of authority. Challenging dominant views.
  • Critique of objectivity. Recognizing that the information being discussed is not value free. 

Thus, a range of academic literature (and in some cases relevant policy documents and technical reports) detailing research findings in your chosen field of study should be discussed. The review should point towards areas of general agreement (or disagreement) among researchers, highlighting what different studies say about your chosen topic. The purpose is to identify gaps in the overall body of research and to outline the (modest) ways in which your research can fill those gaps and expand the larger body of knowledge. It is not simply a summary of everything written on a particular topic; rather, it is an attempt to locate your research within the broader array of knowledge on a particular subject. This, in turn, will provide a detailed justification for, and explanation of, the research questions or hypotheses around which your work will be structured.

A useful starting point for literature reviews is to read a small number of core texts, and then trace back the more detailed articles cited. You should make use library search facilities, in particular academic databases, to locate relevant material from academic journals.

It is important to remember that a literature review is not an annotated bibliography (i.e. a summary of each paper in turn), rather it is a critical discussion of the literature organised according to common themes. It should synthesise others’ work, highlighting the key themes to emerge from other studies and applying these to your own research. It is vital that you avoid plagiarism, whether unintentional or deliberate. If you take ideas or quote a short passage from others’ work – which is, of course, perfectly acceptable and what you should be doing in the review – you have to acknowledge the source by full and proper referencing.

The literature review also informs the remaining parts of your work.

You must use secondary data, it is recommended that for a good quality project research you should aim for approximately15 – 20 different sources throughout the whole project. Although many of your cited sources will appear in the Literature Review chapter, remember to cite relevant material throughout the whole of your project. Many of your sources should be academic journal articles as these are the most relevant to a student conducting research at Masters level. The remainder of your sources may be a mixture of textbooks, company reports, newspaper articles, websites, government publications and statistics etc. The exact mix will of course depend on the nature of your investigation.

A typical literature review chapter could be laid out as follows;

  • A general introductory section that briefly explains the main themes that you will explore in this chapter
  • A background discussion of historical work and any key concepts, theories, models, frameworks etc. that may have been developed and adopted in practice (this may go back many years or even decades)
  • A discussion of the key theoretical issues as they apply today (the contemporary literature) and an examination of these in detail in appropriate thematic subsections
  • Finally, and most importantly, you must discuss all this material that you have read in terms of how this relates to your own study

5. Research Method, Data analysis and Ethical implication (approximately 1,700 words)

A description of the methods used with justification for this choice, including recognition of constraints or limitations. It must be clear that all decisions are appropriate to the aim and objectives.  Any ethical implications of the research should be outlined.

This should be a fairly detailed account of your research design – how you are going to undertake your case study linked to the literature review by referring to methods textbooks as follows:

  • Justification of research methods. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen approach?
  • What is your unit of analysis (division, organisation-wide?) for investigating the problem and making recommendations?
  • Ethical issues: you should highlight any ethical issues in your research.
  • Limitations of the study including a brief outline of research methods you would ideally use but cannot, due to limitations imposed on you by the project brief &/or other factors

However, as only secondary data must be undertaken, you should analyse secondary data as follows:

  • The source of the data and who [individual(s) or an organisation] has published the data
  • Where and when the data or information were collected or made available
  • A description of the data available e.g. key variables or measures appropriate to your study. Reliable websites.
  • Background to the data collection methods e.g. sampling approach or whether data systematically collected.
  • Conclusion and Recommendations (approximately 1,500 words)

This is the final piece of written work that will be read by the markers. Therefore, you should make sure that it leaves a good impression.

  • In theory anyone should be able to read just your final chapter/section and still have a good idea about what your whole research project is all about.
  • Remember that the markers will directly compare your first chapter/section and your final chapter to make sure that you have been consistent in what you set out to discover. Therefore, it is important that your final chapter/section addresses everything you say you are going to look at (your objectives) in your first chapter/section.
  • Re-state your overall motivation (i.e. aim and research objectives).
  • Finally, you should make relevant recommendations for future research
  • References

A single list in APA 6th Referencing style of all of the works cited in your text. If you have cited a source in your text, then there must be an associated reference. Similarly, if you have listed a reference in the Reference list, then there must be an associated citation in your text. The Reference list must not be in bullet- or numbered-list format and should be formatted at single-line spacing.

8. Appendices

Additional supporting material such as tables of statistics, strategic analysis graphs from websites and so on to justify your analysis. This material is seen as essential to the Research Project Report but would otherwise interrupt the flow of text and is therefore placed in Appendices. Ensure that you refer to each of your appendices at appropriate points in your research project.

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