The Dissertation component provides an opportunity for the student to undertake rigorous research in a field relevant to their specialist course of study. The main deliverable will be a written document (the Dissertation), although in some instances supporting artefacts and other evidence may also be generated.

 A real-life context, with some clearly defined business, technology, information or communications dimension, will provide the inspiration for addressing a complex matter both systematically and creatively. The unique scope of each student’s independent research agenda will be agreed with the supervisory team. Students will be expected to demonstrate self-direction, initiative and originality when they are tackling issues and solving problems.

 The work undertaken must have both ‘secondary research’ and ‘primary research’ elements. A student is expected to find and critically review relevant information from a range of different sources and to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of contemporary wisdom, techniques and practices (secondary research). Importantly, a student must also interpret, query, transfer, apply and advance existing knowledge in some original way (primary research). The balance and relationship between secondary and primary research aspects will vary according to the specific nature of the investigation. Dissertations may then differ quite dramatically in content and approach, according to the emphasis placed upon literature review, theoretical concepts, strategic thinking, analysis, development, implementation, application and practical work.

 The approach adopted is that students submit proposed topics for their dissertation. The list of potential topics is reviewed to identify which tutor is the most appropriate to supervise the dissertation and to ensure approximately equal numbers of students allocated to each tutor. The identified tutor then confirms to the student that they are prepared to supervise the dissertation. The student produces a detailed proposal covering the aims and the approach they wish to follow, together with an overall project Gantt chart. The proposal is reviewed by the tutor and any required changes made prior to final agreement on the dissertation. During the period of producing the dissertation, the tutor and the student interact via e-mail, where the student can request clarification and learning support as well as sending the tutor drafts of dissertation chapters. It is expected that the time spent supervising an individual student dissertation would be approximately 10 hours. It is expected that students will apply skills and knowledge acquired from their previous academic and professional experiences in the preparation of their dissertation. It is expected that the elapsed time from the start to the completion of the dissertation will be 3 to 6 months.