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MSc Research Phase

Handbook
2015/16
School of The Built Environment
This Handbook applies to all Students who are undertaking their
dissertation during the academic year 2015/16.
Legacy Students (i.e. students who commenced the Research Phase
prior to January 2016) should already know when their current
research phase ends.

Revisions
v1 23 September 2015 (Skeleton Contents)
v2 2 November 2015 (Full Contents, including Dates and New Ethics Procedure)
v3 - 1 December 2015 (Slight refinement of FTDL explanation)

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Table of Contents
Table of Contents .................................................................................................................................... 2
1.1 Research Phase Overview ............................................................................................................. 3
1.2 Supervisor Appointment and Role ................................................................................................ 3
1.3 Additional Research Methods Support ......................................................................................... 3
1.4 Timings .......................................................................................................................................... 4
2015/16 Research Phase Expected Assignment Hand In Dates................................................. 4
1.5 FT DL Student Research Methods Support ................................................................................... 5
2.0 The research proposal....................................................................................................................... 6
2.1 Research Proposal Assignment Brief ............................................................................................ 6
2.2 Developing Your Research Proposal ........................................................................................... 10
2.3 Ethical Research .......................................................................................................................... 19
3.0 Dissertation ..................................................................................................................................... 22
3.1 Dissertation Brief ........................................................................................................................ 22
3.2 Development of your Dissertation.............................................................................................. 23
3.3 Assessment criteria and Grade Descriptors ............................................................................... 26
3.4 Submission Requirements .......................................................................................................... 26
3.5 Return & Feedback Arrangements.............................................................................................. 26
3.6 Dissertation Assessment Criteria and Grade Descriptors ........................................................... 27
3.7 Dissertation Technical Regulations ............................................................................................. 29
4.0 Important Information Relating to Assessed Work ........................................................................ 31
5.0 Extensions of time........................................................................................................................... 34
5.1 How to request an extension of time ......................................................................................... 34
5.2 Visa implications ......................................................................................................................... 35
6.0 What happens if I fail? .................................................................................................................... 36
6.1 Failing the proposal..................................................................................................................... 36
6.2 Failing the dissertation................................................................................................................ 36
6.3 Resitting the proposal? ............................................................................................................... 36
6.4 Failures and extensions............................................................................................................... 36
7.0 Awards and Classifications .............................................................................................................. 39
7.1 Pass, Merit, Distinction ............................................................................................................... 37
7.2 Graduation & Certificates ........................................................................................................... 37

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1.0 Introduction
1.1 Research Phase Overview
The Research Phase of your programme is the final 60 credits of the programme.
For full time (FT) students the initial, unextended, Research Phase is one semester long, and for part time (PT)
or distance learning (DL) students the initial, unextended, Research Phase is two semesters long.
Completion of the first assessment, the research proposal, will help you to refine a research focus and to make a
justified selection of your chosen research pathway. The second assessment, the dissertation, is where you record
and implement your research plan and produce your final work.

1.2 Supervisor Appointment and Role


The Research Methods will allocate a member of SoBE academic staff to act as your Supervisor. So far as possible,
the allocation process aligns the interests and expertise of available staff with the general topic areas indicated by
the programme on which you are enrolled. Though we will do our best, there is no guarantee that a perfect
alignment of Supervisor expertise with student interest will be achieved, however, all Supervisors are able to
provide support in relation to research approach and execution. Allocation of Supervisors is a non negotiable
process.
The role of the Supervisor is to act as a sounding board for your initial ideas, to assist with the design and
preliminary approval of an ethical research process and then to provide guidance and support throughout the
process (both proposal and dissertation).

Students are responsible for selecting their own research topic, though you may seek guidance from your
Supervisor. The chosen research topic must be relevant to your MSc programme.
Students are required to maintain regular contact with their Supervisor between the start of the module and the
submission of their assessed work. It is the students responsibility to approach the Supervisor to schedule regular
and mutually manageable opportunities for discussion and input. Students must plan ahead and schedule in
appropriate time for supervisors to provide input and support.

1.3 Additional Research Methods Support


In addition to allocating you a Supervisor, the Research Methods team provide a series of lectures and sessions
where we give guidance regarding what is required of you to succeed in the Research Phase, most particularly
focused on development of your Research Proposal. This provides an opportunity for you to take the first steps
towards identifying and refining your research idea, which you need then to develop with your Supervisor.
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We provide support to FT students on campus, and to DL students using Collaborate. PT students are welcome to
attend the campus based sessions with the full timers, but the timescales PT run to are the same as DL students, so
we suggest that PT students will attend the DL sessions rather than the FT sessions.
As we recognise that the Research Phase is very different from what you may be used to in the previous modules,
and also because, particularly for FT, the deadlines for completing the Research Phase are very tight, we provide an
introductory session the semester before you formally start the Research Phase.

1.4 Timings
When does my research phase start?
The research phase formally commences once you have progressed in line with the Academic Regulations for
Taught Programmes applicable to you. This will usually mean when you have attempted all your previous modules
(120 Credits) and have acquired at least 90 credits. If you do end up in a situation where you have only acquired 90
Credits, you may be offered the chance to defer commencement of the research phase until you have retrieved
your failed module.

The Dissertation module may not be commenced in Semester 1


Research methods support sessions are provided in Semester 2 and Semester 3 only. These tie in with the
programme structures of all MSc programmes in the School, none of which specify progression to the research
phase in Semester 1. Accordingly, students who only acquire the requisite 120 or 90 credits following Summer
resits may not commence the Dissertation module until the following January (Semester 2).
This may have Visa implications for FT students. These are discussed further in Section 5.

Assessment Deadlines
The assessments in the research phase are designed to run sequentially, so you should complete the proposal first,
followed by the dissertation, you will then receive feedback and guidance on your research direction, before
investing (potentially wasted) effort into your dissertation. The expected progress for a FT student is that you will
submit your proposal in the middle of the Semester in which you start the Research Phase, and your dissertation at
the end of that Semester, whereas a PT/DL student would be expected to submit their proposal at the end of the
semester in which they start the Research Phase, and the dissertation at the end of the following semester. This
sequence is set out below:

2015/16 Research Phase Expected Assignment Hand In Dates


This entire period is the unextended Research Phase
Cohort

Proposal

Dissertation

04 March 2016

6 May 2016

PT/DL - Start Research Feb 2016

6 May 2016

9 September 2016

FT & FTDL - Start Research June 2016

8 July 2016

9 September 2016

19 August 2016

13 January 2017

FT & FTDL- Start Research Feb 2016

PT/DL - Start Research June 2016

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Although these dates and this sequence are the ones that tend to deliver best results, and are also the dates in
respect of which the University commits to providing supervision and support, at the same time, it is accepted that
sometimes students need more time to finish off their research, and accordingly students have an entitlement to
extend their initial Research Phase. Students who take an extension of time should note that the University
position is that students are only entitled to supervision and support for the unextended length of the Research
Phase.
Owing to a students entitlement to an extension, the usual rules which penalise students for missing deadlines
only apply at the end of an individual students entire Research Phase (N.B. at this point the Late Submission rules
do not apply at all). We therefore characterise the dates above as assessment points, rather than assessment
deadlines. Every semester there are two points following which proposals are assessed (middle and end), and one
point after which dissertations are assessed (end).
A list of all assessment points in 15/16 is set out below. Students must grasp that if they choose not to submit an
assessment according to their expected timeline (see above), the onus is on them to maintain proper progress, to
know if an extension is needed, and if so to apply for one in time. Further details of the Extension process are
provided in Section 5.
Proposal Assessment Points, 16:00 UK on:
Dissertation Assessment Points, 16:00 UK on:

4/3/16

6/5/16
6/5/16

8/7/16

19/8/16
9/9/16

4/11/16

13/1/17
13/1/17

All work which is validly submitted (i.e. within your permitted research phase, whether original or extended) prior
to a given assessment point will be marked after that assessment point. Proposals will be marked within 15
working days of the assessment point and feedback provided. Dissertations will be marked in time for the Board of
Examiners immediately following the assessment point, and feedback will be released after the relevant exam
board.
The list of assessment points has no effect whatsoever on any students individual research phase length. E.g.
Consider an FT student who started their research phase in February 2016 but who obtained an extension of time
which entitled them to submit their dissertation at any time until, say, 12 August 2016. The last time at which they
could make a valid submission would be 16:00 UK on 12 August 2016, notwithstanding that the work will only be
marked following the assessment point on 9 September 2016, in time for the October 2016 exam board.

1.5 FT DL Student Research Methods Support


The online Research Methods support is timetabled at a speed which fits with part time DL students. Accordingly
students following DL programmes at FT speed (e.g. Sri Lankan QS or PM, or REPM FTDL), are expected to engage
with the RM support sessions alongside earlier modules. i.e. FTDL students who commence their programme in
September 2015 will follow the Semester 2 DL sessions, but their Research Phase will only commence in June 2016.
January 2016 FTDL starters will follow Semester 3 DL sessions (from June 2016), but their Research Phase will only
commence in February 2017. In addition, we will accommodate proposal presentation sessions once you have
progressed and started the dissertation module.

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2.0 The research proposal


2.1 Research Proposal Assignment Brief
Assignment Title: Research Proposal
Submission Deadline: Refer to Section 1.4 and paragraphs 11 and 12 of Section 3.7
This assessment constitutes 25% of the marks for the 60 Credit Dissertation
The stated Aims of this element of the module are to provide opportunity for students to:

Engage in good research planning at postgraduate level;

Intended Learning Outcomes


Knowledge and Understanding
On successful completion the student will be able to:

Develop and refine effective research aim and objectives on the basis of a detailed analysis and review of
alternative research strategies and research techniques, applying appropriate selection criteria to reach a
justified and justifiable selection of research approach

Key Skills and other attributes


On completion the student will have had the opportunity to:

Demonstrate what makes good, ethically conducted, research;


Use a variety of techniques and/or sources to investigate research issues;
Critically analyse information in a variety of manners and develop justifiable, evidence based conclusions;
Demonstrate high level written communication skills;

Assignment Task
You should submit to Turnitin a SINGLE word compatible document which incorporates both of the following
elements:
A.

The Declaration on Conduct of Assessed Coursework (a copy is available on the Blackboard Module)

B.

A research proposal of approximately 3,000 words which provides an overview of a piece of research which
you would wish to undertake for your dissertation. The requirements as to structure and content are set
out below in Section 2.2 Developing Your Research Proposal

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Assessment criteria
Your proposal will be assessed against the criteria set out on the table on the next page. You will note that these
criteria are organised into groups, and a mark weighting is applied. Evidently, if your proposal fails to address one
(or more) of the groups of criteria, you will receive no marks for the group(s) you have missed. This can have a
very serious impact on the overall mark you receive, so make sure you address every criterion in your submission.
This should be straightforward; simply ensure that your proposal follows the structure set out in Section 2.2
Developing Your Research Proposal.
Working title

Is the working title relatively short and simple?

Aim / research
question / hypothesis

Is the aim (or research question) sufficiently narrow, unambiguous, and does
it encapsulate the coverage of the proposed study? Is the topic
appropriately related to the programme of study? If a hypothesis is
provided (optional), is it written as a conjectural statement of the
relationship between two or more variables, and are these variables capable
of being measured?

Objectives

Do the objectives appropriately cover all aspects suggested by the aim of the
research? Are the objectives written as statements of intended outcomes
from the research? Are the objectives SMART? specific (and focused),
measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (fit within the timescale for the
research)?

Justification

Is there sufficient justification of the need for the research?

Review of the focal


literature

What are the focal literature and key texts that should be reviewed in the
dissertation (bearing in mind the aim and objectives of the research)? Is
there sufficient demonstration of a critical review (analysing and evaluating
the literature) of the focal literature rather than merely describing the
literature? Has an appropriate range of sources been cited, including
research journal articles?

Research Strategy

Is there a discussion as to which strategy(s) will be adopted, and has the


chosen strategy been justified? Is there sufficient detail of the
implementation of the strategy in relation to the proposed research? For
example, if case studies are to be used how many and why? Which case
studies and why? How will access to information be achieved? Is there
sufficient evidence of reading of research methods texts?

Practical
Implementation

20%

20%

25%

Is the chosen technique(s) appropriately justified? Is there an understanding


of potential problems that may arise in administering the technique(s), and
are there realistic strategies to minimise the impact of any potential
problems? Is there sufficient evidence of reading of research methods texts?

25%
Is there an appropriate discussion of the range of data that will be generated
from the research techniques? Is there an appropriate discussion of how this
data will be analysed? Is there sufficient evidence of reading of research
methods texts in order to understand and justify how to analyse data?
Ethical considerations

Have ethical implications of the research been appropriately considered?

References

Is the Research Proposal presented using the University approved method of


referencing? Is further work required on referencing technique?

Presentation

Is the level of spelling and grammar appropriate for masters level work?

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Grade descriptors
Submissions will be assessed in the context of the Aims and Intended Learning Outcomes set out above, with the following criteria being taken into
consideration:

Grade Descriptors
0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

to
9%

to
19%

to
29%

to
39%

to 49%

to 59%

Assessment Criteria

60%

70%

80%

90%

to

to
79%

to
89%

to
100%

69%

FAIL

PASS

MERIT

DISTINCTION

Aim/Research Question/Hypothesis & Objectives

Ethics, Referencing, Presentation

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Outstanding

Excellent

Very good

Good

Satisfactory

Unsatisfactory

Poor

Inadequate

Practical Implementation

Very poor

Research Strategy

Extremely poor

Justification and Review of Focal Literature

Submission Requirements
You must submit your SINGLE word compatible document through Turnitin on Blackboard.
The University uses an electronic plagiarism detection tool service called Turnitin which is hosted by iParadigms (a
US company). The University has been using the Turnitin service for all assessments which students are required
to submit by electronic means starting in the academic year 2010/2011. By registering with the University you
consent to the following:
a)
The University will submit your assessments (including details of your name and course details) to the
Turnitin service so that your assessments can be compared with the database of works that is maintained by the
Turnitin service and that is drawn from various sources including the internet; and
b)
Your assessments may be stored in that database of works indefinitely (or until the University stops using
the Turnitin service and requests their deletion) to help protect your assessments from future plagiarism. Where
there is a match between content in your assessments and content in other works, then your assessments may also
be copied by the University and other users of the Turnitin service to allow closer analysis.
A link to key questions students ask about Turnitin:
http://www.turnitin.com/en_us/training/student-training

Return & Feedback Arrangements


Written feedback will be provided via Blackboard. We will aim to provide provisional marks and feedback within 3
weeks of submission following a submission opportunity

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2.2 Developing Your Research Proposal


The purpose of a research proposal is for the researcher to state their proposed area of research and to
demonstrate that appropriate consideration has been given as to how the research can be credibly and rigorously
achieved. The proposal should go through a series of steps and questions such that a robust and manageable
statement of intent can be written. Your research proposal should be a maximum of 3,000 words long (excluding
references). The idea is to demonstrate clear thinking, not simply to present voluminous material.
Your proposal must follow the standard set of sections shown in the figure below, which are then explained in
more detail below. These sections also map against the weighted marking groups described in section 2.1 above.
Please note that it is a condition of all MSc programmes that your dissertation topic relates to your programme of
study. Accordingly, we require you to make a brief statement explaining how your chosen topic relates to your
MSc programme.

Working Title
Aim (Research Question or Hypothesis)
Objectives
Brief explanation of how project aligns to your MSc
Programme of study

Project Summary
Chosen topic must relate to
programme of study

Justification (using some literature)


Review of the Focal Literature

Strong Academic Arguments

Research Strategy

Strong Academic Arguments

What are the available research strategies? Why have you


picked the one youve picked? Based on research methods
literature

Practical Implementation

Practical Steps

Research Techniques and approach to data collection


Approach to data analysis (using research methods
literature)
Work Schedule

Description of ethical approach


References

Descriptive

The summary part should rapidly make clear what you are proposing to do. It will be short, just setting out in
summary form what you are proposing to do. There should be no introduction. In the second section, you provide
your brief, substantiated justification of why you are proposing to do this research, together with contextual
information about the topic area, in both cases supported by relevant academic literature. The third section is
where you demonstrate your understanding of the various research strategies available, and make your reasoned
selection of the one you are going to use, all based on engagement with the research methods literature. In the
fourth section you explain practically what you are going to do, and how you are going to analyse any data you
acquire. This again needs to be based on the research methods literature as appropriate. The final section is
where you explain the ethical aspects of your research and how, in summary, you will tackle them. This is
additional to your ethical approval application, which is described in Section 2.3 below.

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The sections of the proposal should make a coherent whole, with logical links between the parts.
The sections of the rest of this guide stress the minimum requirements for the submission of your research
proposal. Reference is made to Gray (2004), which is the module text. You should use this, but also refer to other
sources to an extent to gain a rounded view of research methodology issues. You will in addition carry out
extensive reading around your focal research subject.
Gray (2004) is available as an e-book: search using SOLAR via the Student Channel http://students.salford.ac.uk/.

Working title
This is a working title because it will be refined as the research is undertaken; rarely does research go exactly
according to plan. A good working title is relatively short, simple so that a reader can easily understand it, and it
should provide an understanding of the breadth / scope of the study. Example working titles are:

The use of Access Statements in the UK planning process;


Improving construction performance with Just in time Management;
Is universal design just good design?;
Developing an access auditing tool / checklist for use in public parks.

The title is likely to be a summary of the Aim of the work. Avoid introductory phrases like to undertake a study of
An investigation of. Imagine it as if you were talking to a stranger about what your research is about so that
they can understand what it is about. Just keep it short and simple!

Aim of the research


Whilst some thinkers, for example Hart (1998), talk about aims in the plural and refer to them as being general
statements of intent and direction of the research, for your research proposal the aim should be a singular
statement of what you are seeking to achieve by undertaking this research. We discuss below features of the Aim,
but it is vital that the topic that you choose relates to the programme of study on which you are registered. If you
are in doubt about whether the topic you are interested in is closely enough aligned to your programme, you
should discuss this with your supervisor and programme leader.
A good aim is fairly focussed such that you demonstrate that you have narrowed down the topic to something that
is do-able and manageable. An example of an aim is:

to investigate the impact that poorly designed buildings have on the lives of disabled people [example
1]

Note that Example 1 is fairly broad and to effectively assess the impact would probably take 5 years of assessing a
considerable number of buildings and interviewing many people. A way to narrow and make more manageable
would be to further define it, so possibly:

to investigate the barriers that people face in accessing poorly designed buildings [example 2]

Weve narrowed Example 2 to exclude looking at impact on lives by focusing on barriers rather than everything
to do with a persons life;

to investigate the barriers that wheelchair users face in accessing poorly designed buildings [example 3]

In Example 3 weve narrowed the focus of the subject of the research;

to investigate the barriers that wheelchair users face in accessing public library facilities [example 4]

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In Example 4 weve narrowed the focus of the subject and the focus of the context.
Formulating the Aim as a statement is not the only approach that can be taken. An alternative is to consider it as a
question or a hypothesis. This type of approach can be helpful in scoping out an area and looking at a topic from
different perspectives, and helping you towards the creation of the wording of your overall Research Aim.
Gray (2004: p68-75) discusses good and bad questions and the difference between a question and a hypothesis.
Kerlinger (1986) suggests that a good question expresses a relationship between variables, is unambiguous, and
ends in a ? Gray (2004, p.70) adds to this by classifying questions into 4 main types, namely:

Descriptive what is happening?


how common is drug use among university students?

Normative what is happening compared to what should happen?


how serious is drug use among university students?

Correlation what is the relationship, and the strength of this relationship between variable x and
variable y?
what is the relationship between gender, academic performance and university drug use?

Impact what impact does a change in X have on Y?


has a drug awareness programme had any effect on the level of drug use among university students?
(Gray 2004, p.70)

In contrast an Aim may be a conjectural statement of the relationship between two or more variables (Kerlinger
1986, p.17). In this case it is strictly speaking a hypothesis, and it would be normal for the variables involved to be
measurable. Gray (2004, p.73) gives an example of a research question being Why is street crime more common in
inner city areas?, but if this were written as a hypothesis (to be proved or disproved) an example would be High
levels of street crime in inner city areas are a product of liberal policing policies.
Avoid having to write a summary paragraph beneath the Aim that explains it. The Aim needs to stand on its own
two feet! If you need to write a summary paragraph then it means that your aim is weak, so dont write the
paragraph, sort out why the Aim is not working properly.

Objectives
Objectives are one of the more difficult aspects of developing the proposal for your research. This is partly because
you need to know exactly what you want to research in order to write robust objectives, and partly because the
textbooks talk about objectives differently. Gray (2004, p. 73) refers to the writing of objectives as quite
challenging and he refers to them as operational definitions rather than as objectives.
Essentially objectives are statements of intended outcomes from the research, not written as questions or
hypotheses, but written as statements, that is To . So in effect they are written as a list of how you intend to
break your Aim (what) into discrete, complementary, achievable steps. An aim would typically have about five or
six objectives to support it. They should make up a logical set. As a very loose guide:
it is quite normal for the first objective to focus on understanding the context issues to the study
(probably to be achieved primarily via the literature);
then come aspects of the focal research topic (which will link to the research design set out later and
may vary according to the certainty of knowledge in the area being studied, so To explore or To
test , etc);
lastly, there may be a broader objective about the outcomes from your research, such as the policy
implications of the study results. It gives the whole effort focus if you explicitly state who you think will
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be able to act on your research., thus to make recommendations to X. However, do not be over
ambitious about what your research can achieve.
Whatever the detail, the objectives need to be SMART specific (and focused), measurable, achievable, realistic,
and timely (fit within the timescale for the research). In other words they should not be abstract statements, but
should potently drive the research forward and ultimately hold the parts together. The objectives are the steps you
need to take in order to achieve your Aim.
Developing objectives tends to be an iterative process. So, you may do a first draft right at the start, to give
yourself some direction. Then you may do some deeper reading and begin to put together your literature review
and also to think about what is the right way (research strategy) to achieve your objectives. As that process
continues, you are likely to refine your objectives. Indeed, what sometimes happens is that by thinking more
deeply about your objectives, you discover that the objectives are simply too challenging to achieve (i.e. they are
not SMART), and this leads you to go back and narrow your Aim, in order then to have more manageable (SMART)
objectives.
Of course, when you deliver your research proposal, you will present it as a clear, linear process, even though it
developed out of a messy process of to-ing and fro-ing (and despite the fact that, as the foundation for your
dissertation, it may still, after submission, develop and be refined.)
An example of a good aim and objectives, anonymised from a real students work, are set out below. We provide
this to illustrate what we are talking about, and to provide you an opportunity to reflect on what an Aim is, and
how Objectives flow from it. This is not, however, an exemplar to copy in itself, since every piece of research is
different.
Example:
Aim
To examine how people, who have retired from driving because of disability and / or age-related impairments, find
out about, and gain confidence in using, alternative forms of transport.
Objectives
1. To review national and international provision of support for people retiring from driving
2. To review national policy on accessibility of transport
3. To examine the local transport strategy re accessibility in X City
4. To examine the experiences of people living in X City who have retired from driving
5. To scope the need for personal travel training in this sector of the population
6. To make recommendations to the transport department of X City Council and national / international
policy makers
Please note the features of this Aim and these Objectives. The Aim carves out a specific area of enquiry and
identifies precisely what it is the student is seeking to discover. Reflect on each Objective. Each one identifies a
specific, and manageable, discrete process of investigation, each follows from the previous one and you can see
how, having completed all those objectives, you will also have achieved the Aim. This is what you need to seek to
put together yourself, for your chosen topic.

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Statement of Programme Alignment


State the programme on which you are enrolled and indicate how the research area aligns with that programme.
In many cases this will be almost self-explanatory and simply stating your programme may be just about enough.
However, if you have picked a topic which is less clearly aligned with your programme you will need to make a case
for why the research should be carried out as part of your programme studies. In appropriate cases, the point will
be referred to your programme leader and it may be necessary for you to re-focus your research.

Justification
This is the first part of the section of the proposal which sets out why you are planning to do what youve just said
(in the first part) youre going to do. Here you need to succinctly justify why there is a need for the research, as
opposed to it just sounding like an interesting idea. For this you should employ some key references to evidence
things like: there is an unresolved research issue; it affects a lot of people / involves a lot of money; and / or is
currently of significant interest owing to developments in policy or practice. This should be a powerful summary
argument, which will be expanded upon in the Review of the Focal Literature.

Review of the focal literature


Here you must actively use the literature and make strong arguments for your chosen project. In this section you
are considering the literature dealing with the focus of the research (based on the aim). A literature review is
undertaken in two stages by firstly searching for and finding relevant texts, and secondly by analysing / reviewing
what you have found.
According to Hart (2001, p.21) the challenge to undertaking a successful literature search is to:

Plan understanding the ways in which information is organised and made available;
Maintain records;
Extract information from useful sources, including the main arguments, theories, concepts and
definitions.

A literature search is easy if the aim of the research is robust and clearly defined. A poor literature search is
typically a result of an ill-defined aim such that there is too much information to search, it is too time consuming,
and you experience information overload. So a robust aim and a methodical approach to undertaking the search
are important. Gray (2004) has a good section on literature searching under locating the literature pages 44 to 52.
The University has a considerable number of databases that you can use for undertaking a search which work on
the basis of identifying appropriate keywords and the type of material you want from the search newspaper
articles, magazine articles, expert opinion, reports, and very importantly, refereed research journal articles. Most of
these databases can be accessed from outside the University (off-campus), with appropriate passwords.
Training and direction in relation to Library Resources has been offered throughout your studies, and by this stage
you should feel comfortable that you know where to look and how to find appropriate material. Details of the
databases are available from the Librarys SOLAR web site, and if you need specific guidance in addition to the
support provided there, then please get in touch with Library staff, or your Supervisor.
Having found a number of pieces of literature, the important next step is to see how this literature can inform your
thesis, and for this you need to undertake a critical review. Poor literature reviews tend to be descriptive or
narrative, possibly with some discussion. A critical review involves analysing and evaluating the literature rather
than just describing it. Gray (2004, p.54) suggests that any critical review should provide:

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An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the main theories;


A clear understanding of the topic;
Citing of all key studies;
A clear indication of how the review links to the aim and objectives;
A definition of the boundaries of the research;
A selection and synthesis of existing arguments;
Through gradual refinement, a clear demarcation of the research problem.

In discussing the last bullet point, Gray (2004, p.54) picks up the phrase gradual refinement by explaining that in
undertaking a critical literature review you should be touring the literature, but also pausing to focus on areas that
have emerged as important gradually refining the discussion down to a set of core issues and arguments.
The above bullet points should not be used as headings within your literature review section, they are more useful
as a set of questions to ask yourself when you have completed the review.
In terms of presenting the focal literature within the proposal, remember a small selection of the focal literature
review will be summarised in the Justification section, as mentioned above.

Research Strategy
We address the explanation of Research Strategy and of Practical Implementation separately in this document,
since the assessment criteria and mark weightings do value them discretely, and you will need to deal with them in
separate, if sequential, parts of your proposal. However, the two aspects do need to mesh together into a
coherent whole, and your consideration of both aspects needs to be founded on clear and effective engagement
with methodology literature.
The general approach taken in research is commonly referred to as the research strategy (Robson 1993, p.42).
This must be an appropriate response to the characteristics of the subject matter of the research (encapsulated in
the Aim and Objectives). The discussion of the research strategy to be adopted must draw on the research
methodology literature and provide a strong justification for the chosen approach. This should include explicit
consideration of a range of alternatives and the strengths and weaknesses of the approach chosen versus at least
one or two competing approaches.
At the broadest level you should consider epistemological issues inherent in the topic area selected for study. Are
the issues technical and broadly speaking capable of objective measurement (positivist stance) or are they social
and can there legitimately be multiple perspectives of what is happening (critical realist stance)? What is the
current level of knowledge about the topic; thus is the emphasis on creating new theory (inductive approach) or
testing an existing theory (deductive)? Answers to these questions will flavour, and justify the more detailed
choices then to be made.
Moving to the main choices available, textbooks do vary in their terminology and how they classify options. One
simple approach, which is widely used, distinguishes between three main strategies: experiments, surveys and case
studies (Robson 1993). Note that Robson (1993, p.41) goes on to suggest that the three strategies do not provide a
logical partitioning covering all possible forms of enquiry .. and also it can make a lot of sense to combine
strategies for some research questions. It could be that specific methods rise to the challenge of particular
objectives and together make up a robust multi-methods methodology where the different approaches
triangulate and complement each other. This can be a good approach in theory, but may be too much for a
dissertation project but you could still consider it and explicitly decide not to take this more complex approach!
Yin (1989, p17), in making an argument for the distinctive role of case studies, provides a view on the implications
for the three approaches of: the type of research question (who, what, where, how many), the researchers degree
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of control over behavioural events being studied and whether the study is of contemporary events. You should
read further on the subject of research strategy, and the three approaches mentioned below:

Experiment measures the effects of manipulating one variable on another variable; typically
undertaken in a controlled environment such as a laboratory, but can also be applicable to research
undertaken outside of a traditional laboratory environment for example in natural settings. Typical
features (Robson 1993, p.40) are:
o selection of samples of individuals from known populations;
o allocation of samples to different experimental conditions;
o introduction of planned change to one or more of the variables;
o control of other variables;
o usually involves hypothesis testing.

Surveys collection of information in a standardised way from groups of people. Typical features
(Robson 1993, p.40) are:
o Selection of samples of individuals from known populations;
o Collection of relatively small amount of data in standardised form from each individual;
o Typical techniques are questionnaire, interview.

Case study development of detailed or intensive knowledge about a single case or a small number of
related cases. Typical features (Robson 1993, p.40) are:
o Selection of a single case or small number of cases;
o Study of the case in its context / setting;
o Collection of information from a range of techniques including observation, interview and
documentary analysis. (Note also that use of questionnaire techniques in case study strategies
is becoming increasingly common).

In the Research Strategy section, you define your overall research approach, and give a justification for why that
that general approach is appropriate for seeking an answer to your Aim / Objectives. There should be no discussion
of research techniques (questionnaires, interviews, etc) in this section; this comes in the next section on
implementation.

Practical implementation
In this section, you look in more detail at the practicalities of what you will be doing. Having made the main
theoretical arguments for how the research is to be approached above, you should then set out the practical steps
to be taken to implement the strategy in relation to the proposed research. These should flow naturally from the
sections above and will provide practical details to be actioned. For example, if case studies are to be used how
many and why? Which case studies and why? How will you secure access to the information? Or, if a survey is
being proposed, then: what is the sampling frame? How will respondents be contacted? How are the questions
being justified? How many responses are aimed for? What will be done about non-response?
Nesting within these choices are the next set of decisions about the tools or techniques you will use to collect
information to inform your research strategy. Sometimes they are referred to as tactics of enquiry, or research
instruments or data collection methods. Typically four techniques are generally referred to (Gray 2004, Robson
1993) namely questionnaires, interviews, observation, and unobtrusive measures such as archive analysis, audits.
Again the choice of technique depends on the Aim/ Objectives of the research / being addressed such that
appropriate techniques are used to ensure that the research outcomes are valid.
Many textbooks provide an overview of these methods, and some text books write specifically on a single method
such as Oppenheim (1966) on questionnaire design, and Yin (1989) on case study design.

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A good Research Proposal will discuss the technique(s) to be used, and will justify why this technique(s) is
appropriate for the research strategy adopted. The Proposal will also identify possible problems that may arise in
administering the technique(s), identifying strategies to minimise the impact of any potential problems.
Once you have the collected the data you will have to analyse it. You should continue your imaginary journey into
this stage as it can make a big difference to how you approach the data collection. For example, open-ended
questions are easy to ask in a survey, but can be very time-consuming for respondents (possibly lowering the
response rate) as well as being a challenge to analyse for the researcher, if used too liberally. Data analysis is
fundamentally where the contribution of the research is created. So, it is important that appropriate planning is
undertaken, preferably at the same time as developing the research techniques, such that the analysis is not
rushed and a poor thesis is written as a result.
You should refer to the methodological literature to some extent in relation to the possible approaches to analysis.
These are typically presented as either quantitative (analysing numbers and data which can be transferred into
numbers) or qualitative (analysing words and other data of a non-numerical form). Usually the data collected
through the research techniques will require both quantitative and qualitative analysis. A questionnaire, for
example, is likely to contain questions that generate numerical information, such as age of respondent and nonnumerical information, such as opinion and attitude.
The production of a work schedule is part of this research implementation section. It should be a simple timetable
or Gantt chart for completing the research. It should identify key activities and approximate times for undertaking
these, non-research activities such as time out for holidays etc, and it should identify intended date of submission
of the completed thesis. Creating this plan is a useful discipline to check out the feasibility of your plans. It can then
act as a guide to you as you do the work, even if you have to re-plan (as is quite normal) at some stage.
These are all practical questions that need you to imagine your way through the project, balancing what is desirable
against what is feasible in the time and with the resources you have.

Ethical considerations
All students are required to address the need for ethical approval within their Research Proposal. This should
include a brief summary of the nature of ethical issues, such as informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, etc;
plus a clear explication of the practical steps that you will be taking in your work to address these issues as they
arise for your study.
As a separate process you will need to secure ethical approval for your research project. Further information is set
out in Section 2.3 below.

References
References should be provided following Salford Universitys policy. There is referencing guidance on Blackboard in
the Learning Documents section of your module on Blackboard or see:
http://www.salford.ac.uk/skills-for-learning
This is basically the Harvard APA 6th edition (author / date) approach. There is an exception for legal researchers
discuss with your Supervisor if you think this might apply to you.
We would strongly advise that you obtain the Endnote (bibliography building) software from the library, so that you
can progressively and flexibly collect your references as you build your proposal and then your dissertation. This is
far preferable to trying to find them all at the end and is particularly efficient when references are used more than
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once. Endnote also allows you to control the formatting of references, thus by selecting Harvard from the edit /
output styles options your references will be automatically in the correct form.

References
(Note that certain of these resources have more recent editions. Use whichever edition you can access.)
Gray, D.E., 2004. Doing Research in the Real World. London: Sage Publications.
Hart, C, 1998. Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage Publications.
Hart, C, 2001. Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage Publications.
Kerlinger, F.N., 1986. Foundations of Behavioural Research. Florida: Holt, Rheinart and Winston.
Oppenheim, A.N., 1966. Questionnaire Design and Attitude Measurement. New York: Basic Books.
Robson, C. 1993. Real World Research. Oxford: Blackwells.
Yin, R.K., 1989. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage Publications.
Further guidance on writing research proposals
Punch, K.F. 2006. Developing Effective Research Proposals. London: Sage Publications.

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2.3 Ethical Research


Research Ethics
A vital part of becoming a competent researcher is developing the ability to do your research in an ethical way.
This is neither mysterious nor difficult. It is merely looking after the people that help you do your research, and
taking good care of the information that they give you.

Informed Consent
The key thing to grasp is that if you are wanting to do research which involves gathering data directly from people,
then you need to have their informed consent for gathering and using that data.
The process for securing informed consent from your participants is really simple:
1.

You inform your participants about your research. This needs to include an explanation of what your
research is (e.g it is about x subject and you are doing it in the context of a Masters degree at the
University of Salford etc etc). You need also to tell your participants about any risks they may run by taking
part in your research (there are not likely to many/any in the context of mainstream built environment MSc
research); who your supervisor is (including email address); that there is no obligation on their part to take
part; and that they can withdraw at any time. You need to explain how you will look after the data that you
acquire from them (e.g. in encrypted format), and you need to be clear about how you intend to identify
participants in your work (e.g. do you want to use their name or not? Etc etc). We have included an
example Participant information sheet in the Ethics section on Blackboard, which you can adapt to fit your
research, or you can develop your own version. If you are doing an online survey, you might include the
project information in a covering email, rather than having a separate form.

2.

Once you have informed your participants, you ask them to confirm their consent to participate in your
research. In the case of face to face interviews you would typically get consent by asking your interviewees
to sign a consent form which refers to the Participant Information sheet (see exemplar in the Ethics section
on Blackboard). By contrast, if you are doing a questionnaire you might include a statement at the top of
the questionnaire along the lines of By completing this questionnaire you are providing your consent for
the information you provide being used in the way described in the Participant Information Form, or, if you
have a gateway tick box in an online survey you might put something like I agree that the information I
provide may be used in the way described in the Participant Information Email and they would only be able
to complete the questionnaire if they ticked that box.

Ethical Approval
Because it is such a vital aspect of being a researcher, the University has set up procedures to check that you know
how to do your research ethically, before you go and do it. This is called the Ethical Approval process. The
expected sequence of processes is that you would prepare your proposal in order to work out your research
approach. Then you would think about the practical aspects of getting your data and at that point you would seek
ethical approval. Following that you would do your data gathering and analysis.
However, you need to be aware that if for any reason you end up wanting to gather some data from people, e.g. by
interviews, questionnaires, private archival access etc, and you have not completed your research proposal, you
must in any event secure ethical approval BEFORE you gather that data.

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Ethical Approval Can only be obtained before you do your research


As you will see below in Section 3.7, a condition of being able to validly submit your Dissertation is that you had
ethical approval for the data gathering that you did. Ethical Approval is not a process which is intended to be done
retrospectively. So if you have not got ethical approval for your research, in advance, you cannot make a valid
Dissertation submission.

When should I seek Ethical Approval?


You should apply for ethical approval when you are getting ready to do the bulk of your research, but before you
actually start. Typically this will be shortly after you have completed your research proposal.

Ethical Approval Types of Application


To try and make the management of Ethical Approval simpler, the University has developed a categorisation of
research project type. There is more information about this in the Ethics section on Blackboard, but research
projects are divided into three Types:

Type 1 projects are typically those done based solely on publicly available written documentation, and
therefore no issue of informed consent arises.

Type 2 projects typically involve gathering data from humans, but they are not vulnerable humans, nor
are the issues particularly sensitive. This is the type of project that the majority of SoBE MSc
dissertations involve e.g. interviews or questionnaires to construction professionals about
mainstream construction issues. Students need to develop the participant information and consent
documentation, but such applications can be approved at Module level.

Type 3 projects typically involve gathering data from vulnerable humans (e.g. children, or patients)
and/or the issues involved are very sensitive and may cause distress (e.g. workplace harrassment).
Students are strongly advised to avoid developing research ideas which entail Type 3 treatment. Such
applications need to be initially considered at Module level, but then need to go for approval to a
University committee, and that process takes months.

Ethical Approval - Health & Safety Risks


Students carrying out research as part of their MSc dissertation are unlikely to be exposed to Health & Safety risks
over and above the every day risks associated with office work. However, if the research you are proposing to carry
out does have some additional risks then you need to declare these as part of the ethical approval process so that
appropriate safeguards can be considered. An example might be if you were proposing as part of your research to
do a tenant survey. This would entail you spending considerable periods of time as a lone worker in an urban
environment, and that is an activity which would have health and safety risks that needed to be considered. There
is some additional guidance in the Ethics section on Blackboard about such matters.

Ethical Approval Process


All the materials you need in order to be able to successfully put together your pack of documents to seek ethical
approval are available in the Ethics section of the Dissertation module on Blackboard (this is on the left hand
menu).

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You must:

Fill in the Ethical Approval form carefully (and electronically, as a Word document).

If your project is Type 2 (or 3), prepare the informed consent documentation (e.g. the participant
information form/covering email, the consent form specifically adapted for your research).

Email these documents to your supervisor to get their approval/feedback.

Once your supervisor has confirmed that the approval application is satisfactory, you must upload all the
documents to the Ethics Upload point in the Ethics section in Blackboard. You can upload multiple documents to
that point.
Please use short file names (e.g. Smith_EthicsForm.doc, Smith_ParticipantInfo.doc,
Smith_Consent.doc) as otherwise Blackboard will not process them properly.

Approval etc
Following submission, your ethical approval application will be assessed. We try and do this within about a week of
submission.
If it is considered a valid and appropriately prepared Type 1 or Type 2 application, you will receive approval. If it is
considered a Type 3 project, we will provide further guidance.
If your application is not considered adequate, you will be notified of recommended amendments. You need to do
these, and resubmit your ethics application.
The most common reason for us to reject ethical approval applications is that the proposed research is Type 2,
but the student has not provided the documentation they intend to use in order to secure informed consent (e.g.
Participant Information sheet and the consent form)

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3.0 Dissertation
3.1 Dissertation Brief
Modules: PGT Dissertation
Assignment Title: Dissertation
Submission Deadline: See Section 1 above and paragraphs 11 and 12 of Section 3.7
This assessment constitutes 75% of the marks for the 60 Credit Dissertation

Aims of the Module


The stated aims of this module are to provide opportunity for students to:

Engage in good research planning at postgraduate level;

Apply an established process of research to produce a research proposal followed by a dissertation on


a specific research topic related to the programme of study;

Engage in empirical, theoretical or doctrinal research (based on evidence present in the literature) or
constructive research (aimed at solving a real-life problem), or other type of recognised research
approach;

Apply an ethical approach when conducting research and complete the ethical approval process in
accordance with university requirements.

Intended Learning Outcomes


Knowledge and Understanding
On successful completion the student will be able to:

Develop and refine effective research aim and objectives on the basis of a detailed analysis and review
of alternative research strategies and research techniques, applying appropriate selection criteria to
reach a justified and justifiable selection of research approach;

Conduct extensive literature search culminating in the analysis and synthesis of complex information
derived from that search;

Effectively and robustly implement the selected research approach to identify and critically analyse
relevant data.

Design and develop conclusions based on evidence including validation and authentication;

Produce a sustained, sophisticated, and logical argument in the form of a dissertation.

Key Skills and other attributes


On completion the student will have had the opportunity to:

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Demonstrate what makes good, ethically conducted, research;

Use a variety of techniques and/or sources to investigate research issues;

Critically analyse information in a variety of manners and develop justifiable, evidence based
conclusions;

Use evidence in such a manner as to provide for stable and justifiable conclusions;

Demonstrate high level written communication skills;

This assignment has been designed to support your learning in the context of these aims and intended learning
outcomes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Assignment Task
Develop a Dissertation of between 15,000 and 18,000 words which implements the research plan that you
developed in your Research Proposal assignment. Dissertations, which significantly exceed or fall short of this
target length are unlikely to satisfy the assessment criteria and will accordingly incur a penalty.
The Dissertation must meet the Assessment Criteria set out in the matrix at Section 3.6. Details of how the
dissertation must be formatted and submitted are set out in Section 3.7 below.
It is a pre-condition to a valid dissertation submission that you have ethical approval for the research project
described in you dissertation.

3.2 Development of your Dissertation


A dissertation is an extended piece of academic writing, which seeks to supply an answer to a research question, to
establish a research Aim or establish the validity of a research hypothesis. For most students, the dissertation will
be the fully executed research project which was originally sketched out in the Research Proposal. For that reason,
it is inevitable that many students will wish to use parts of their Research Proposal again within their Dissertation,
and that is perfectly acceptable. The ban against self plagiarism which applies to all other types of academic work
is specifically excluded in the case of a research proposal, as the whole point of a research proposal is that it should
form the basis and guide for the completed research project.
So what does a dissertation look like? Although we are very prescriptive about the content and structure of the
Research Proposal, the dissertation is a different animal. Its structure will be determined by the type of research
that is being done and it is here that students should work with their supervisors in order to agree on an
appropriate structure to achieve the research purpose. For that reason, we do not mandate a format or a
structure. A few points can, however, usefully be made which students might find of assistance.

Dissertation based on empirical evidence


This is perhaps the classic School of the Built Environment dissertation. Whatever else might be its challenges,
conceptually it is a really easy thing to grasp and to structure sensibly.
The first thing that needs to be done is to contextualise the research topic. Some people do this with a general
introduction to the area to justify its relevance, before introducing the Aim and the Objectives. Others start with
the Aim and Objectives and then do a short contextualisation. There is no perfect or only way. You need to get
your research topic established clearly and persuasively somehow.
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What then happens is a critical review of the relevant academic literature. This needs to be a thoughtful review of
good literature. You need to draw out themes, to identify problems, to demonstrate philosophical conflicts. You
must do this effectively, in your own words, drawing on good, properly referenced sources. At the end, its often
effective to summarise where you have ended up. You might, for example, establish the precise questions or
general themes you want to explore in your empirical phase.
Then typically, comes the research methods section, where you establish the appropriate research strategy and
technique. If your Research Proposal was effective, you may be able to draw heavily on that here, though if it was
weak you will probably need to do more work on it. This section is all written as though you havent done the
research yet. Youll need to explain what data you are going to acquire and how you are going to analyse any data
you acquire. Youll also need to mention how you will take care of the ethics of research (this bit will be really easy,
because by this point you will already have secured ethical approval).
Next comes presentation of the data, then comes analysis. You need to think carefully about how you present your
data. There has to be a balance between providing too much and too little data. If you use graphs etc, then they
need to be easy to read and tell the reader the right things. You may choose to put some data in Appendices, but
you must not rely on a reader looking at anything in an Appendix in order to make your arguments. An Appendix is
only there as an opportunity for further reading, not for making your point.
In terms of data analysis, you must have a clear plan of attack, based on your research methods section. You have
to demonstrate an accepted method of analysing data, whether that be qualitative or quantitative, or both.
Finally you set out your conclusions. There should be no new material in the Conclusions section (because it is a
conclusion, not a continuation of your analysis). You need to make sure you reflect back on your Aim and
Objectives, and demonstrate how you have achieved them.
The whole work should be a single, well argued clear piece of persuasive academic writing.

Dissertation Based on Literature/Sources/Data (Secondary Research)


Many of the same points made in respect of the primary research dissertation apply just as well to a secondary
research dissertation. You need to make a single clear argument from start to finish. You must have a well defined
central theme. Probably that will be based on an Aim and Objectives.
Where things can become conceptually more tangled is in respect of the literature review. In secondary research
there are two differing approaches. Either you are using literature itself to develop a line of reasoning, or you are
using the data/information produced by others and reanalysing that data for your own purposes.
The first approach is a desktop study where the only data you are using will be literature produced by others,
arguably the whole dissertation is a literature review, and that is why a particular challenge of this type of
dissertation is to maintain a clear and persuasive line of reasoning throughout the whole work. Where empirical
dissertations cause students headaches owing to the practical fact of getting hold of data from participants,
literature based dissertations cause headaches because students get lost and dont really understand how to
maintain a strong line of reasoning.
There are a number of ways to try to get over this hurdle. One that some students do is to bring the research
methodology section forward, so that it is placed just after the introduction. This permits the student to determine
the different nature of the successive parts of the dissertation. One section will for example, like with the empirical
research dissertation, explore the problematic areas in the literature, and justify the problem being research, and
the aspects which will be looked at. Successive sections will then address the various elements of the research Aim
identified earlier on.
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An additional conceptual difficulty in relation to literature based dissertations is how analysis is managed. In
empirical work, the analysis is very easy to identify; its what you do with the data you have collected. A similar
approach is sometimes adopted in respect of literature based dissertations. For example a rigid process of
gathering and then sorting/processing/interpreting from the literature may be imposed on that material. However,
that is only one approach, and other approaches can be just as valid, in appropriate circumstances. What students
need to do is to set out the manner in which they are proposing to carry out analysis, and to make it clear to the
reader throughout how that analysis is being carried out.
The other approach to secondary research is to re-use existing data collected by other people. This follows very
much the same dissertation approach as that of empirical research, except that you have saved yourself the time
and expense of collecting the data yourself. There will be a clear distinction between the literature review section
(theory) and the analysis of the secondary material (data). The secondary material you wish to use in your study
may be the actual raw data collected by other people, or summary/reduction of data collected by others. In
secondary research it is important to know why and how people collected the data, and if it has been summarised
then the categories they used to create the summary. The main concern in secondary data research is to ensure
that the data you have is fit for purpose in order to address the research question you are asking. Unlike
empirical research you cannot shape what data is collected to match exactly your research question; in secondary
research you hope that the fit of the previously collected data is close enough for your research purpose.
Just as in relation to empirical research based dissertations, there should be no new material introduced in the
conclusion of a secondary research based dissertations.

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3.3 Assessment criteria and Grade Descriptors


These are set out in Section 3.6 below.

3.4 Submission Requirements


Please see Section 3.7 below.
You must submit through Turn it in on Blackboard.
The University uses an electronic plagiarism detection tool service called Turnitin which is hosted by iParadigms (a
US company). The University has been using the Turnitin service for all assessments which students are required
to submit by electronic means starting in the academic year 2010/2011. By registering with the University you
consent to the following:
a)
The University will submit your assessments (including details of your name and course details) to
the Turnitin service so that your assessments can be compared with the database of works that is
maintained by the Turnitin service and that is drawn from various sources including the internet; and
b)
Your assessments may be stored in that database of works indefinitely (or until the University
stops using the Turnitin service and requests their deletion) to help protect your assessments from
future plagiarism. Where there is a match between content in your assessments and content in other
works, then your assessments may also be copied by the University and other users of the Turnitin
service to allow closer analysis.
A link to key questions students ask about Turnitin is as follows:
http://www.turnitin.com/en_us/training/student-training

3.5 Return & Feedback Arrangements


Written feedback will be provided via Blackboard following the Board of Examiners at which the Dissertation
is presented.

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3.6 Dissertation Assessment Criteria and Grade Descriptors


Scope

90-100% Outstanding
Outstanding clarity of focus,
includes what is important, and
excludes irrelevant issues

Understanding of
subject matter

Outstanding with critical


awareness of relevance of
issues. Exceptional expression
of ideas, evidence of originality

Use of secondary
sources

Comprehensive review of
sources. Outstanding
evaluation and synthesis of
source material with no
significant errors
Outstanding collection of
pertinent data, using robust
methods of collection, and
adding to knowledge base in
discipline
Outstanding analysis,
authoritative questioning of
sources, understanding of
bias, very strong
independence of thought and
cogency
Outstanding structure,
compelling and persuasive
argument that leads to a
valuable contribution to field,
paves way for future work
Very high levels of
presentation. Full information
and extent of analysis
conveyed lucidly.
Outstanding written language.
Flawless

Use of primary sources

Critical analysis based


on evidence

Structure of argument

Presentation /
communication
(including referencing)
Spelling, grammar,
syntax

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80-89% Excellent
Excellent clarity of focus,
boundaries set with no
significant omissions or
unnecessary issues
Excellent, with critical
awareness of relevance of
issues. Excellent expression of
ideas, some originality

70-79% Very good


Clear focus. Very good setting
of boundaries, includes most of
what is relevant

60-69% Good
Clear scope and focus, with
some minor omissions or
unnecessary issues

Very good with critical


awareness of relevance of
issues. Very good expression of
ideas, potential for originality

Excellent independent
secondary research. The
majority of significant sources
are evaluated and synthesized

Very good independent


secondary research. A wide
range of sources are evaluated
and synthesized

Data collection of very high


standard, relevant to
dissertation and robust
method, providing avenues for
future research
Excellent analysis highly
coherent questioning of
sources, understanding of
bias, strong independence of
thought and cogency

Data collection of high standard,


allowing the testing of analytical
questions specific to
dissertation

Good, with some


awareness of relevance of
issues. Ideas are
expressed well, with some
minor limitations
Good secondary research
to extend taught materials.
Evidence of evaluation of
sources, some deficiencies
in choice and synthesis
Good data collection,
simple methodology,
relevant results for the
study

Very good critical analysis.


Sources are questioned
appropriately, and a very good
understanding of bias, showing
independence of thought and
cogency
Well-structured and persuasive
argument. Insightful conclusion
draws together key issues and
possible future work

Critical analysis with some


questioning of sources.
Understanding of bias, with
some evidence of
independence of thought
and cogency
Structured and fairly
convincing argument leads
to conclusion that
summarizes key issues

Very high levels of presentation.


Full information and extent of
analysis conveyed lucidly.

Presentation satisfactory,
with limited but effective
style of presentation

Limited secondary research


to extend taught materials.
Limited evaluation of
sources, deficiencies in
choice and synthesis
Adequate engagement with
data collection to provide
basis for primary analysis,
awareness of methodological
issues
Analysis evident but
uncritical. Sources are not
always questioned, with
limited but acceptable
independence of thought and
cogency
Argument has some
structure and development
towards conclusion with
limitations in summary of
issues
Presentation satisfactory,
with limited but effective style
of presentation

Very good written language with


few, very minor errors

Good written language,


some minor errors but none
affects clarity

Acceptable written language.


Some errors in punctuation,
spelling, sentence

Argument has excellent


structure and persuasiveness,
leading to significant insights
and relevant future work
Very high levels of
presentation. Full information
and extent of analysis
conveyed lucidly.
Excellent written language with
only minor flaws

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50-59% Satisfactory
Scope evident and
satisfactory but with some
omissions and unnecessary
issues
Basic with limited awareness
of relevance of issues.
Limited but satisfactory
expression of ideas

40-49% Unsatisfactory
Inadequately scoped with
significant omissions and
unnecessary issues

30-39% Inadequate
Very vague definition of topic
with few relevant issues

Understanding of subject
matter

Inadequate understanding
with little awareness of
relevance of issues

Very shallow understanding,


with many relevant elements
omitted

Use of secondary sources

Very limited extension of


taught materials. Poor choice
and synthesis of materials

Use of primary sources

Inadequate use of primary


data for purposes of
dissertation.
Methodologically weak
Vague analysis displaying
lack of clarity or focus. Some
relevant elements
discernable
Argument is largely
unstructured, vague
conclusion. Evidence that
structure could be
strengthened
Inadequate presentation
which needs to strengthen
clarity and precision of
communication

Very limited use of secondary


materials, with inclusion of
irrelevant / inappropriate
sources
Insufficient collection of
primary data with little
awareness of methodological
considerations
Very vague analysis with
apparent contradictions /
errors. Some awareness of
role of analysis
Largely discursive approach to
topic which presents little
argumentation

Scope

Critical analysis based on


evidence

Structure of argument

Presentation /
communication (including
referencing)

Spelling, grammar, syntax

A number of errors in
punctuation, use of words,
spelling and sentence
construction, many
significant, obscuring
meaning of text

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Poorly organized and


presented with some
information difficult to
understand. Presentation
hinders presentation of key
themes
Significant errors in
punctuation, use of words,
spelling, sentence
construction, making
arguments difficult to
understand

20-29% Poor
Extremely confused
perception of topic with
significant misrepresentation
of issues
Some significant
misunderstandings which
prevent coherent discussion
No use of secondary
sources beyond taught
materials
Poor data collection with
significant methodological
error / confusion
Extremely limited and
largely unsuccessful attempt
at analysis. No discussion of
sources
Entirely discursive piece of
work with no structured
presentation of argument.
Cursory conclusion
Poorly organized and
presented with some
information difficult to
understand. Presentation
hinders presentation of key
themes
Coherence and structure of
argument is fundamentally
obscured due to poor use of
language

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10-19% Very poor


Scope of topic almost
irrelevant to dissertation

construction
0-9% Extremely poor
No awareness of scope of
topic or any relevant issues

Subject misunderstood in
the main, with significant
errors and omissions in
knowledge
No use of secondary
sources beyond taught
materials. Taught material
inadequately engaged with
Unusable primary data,
through inadequate
collection or methodological
flaws
No analysis beyond general
speculation. No discussion
of sources

Total misunderstanding of
subject

No argument or structure
beyond loosely connected
list of points. No substantive
conclusion

No evidence of argument or
conclusion

No attempt to present work


in acceptable format

No attempt to present work


in acceptable format

Almost complete lack of


comprehension with only
vestiges of argument /
information understandable
due to very poor use of
language

Dissertation
incomprehensible due to
level of spelling, grammar
and syntax

No meaningful use of any


secondary source material

No evidence of awareness
of need for primary data
collection or methodology
No valid analysis

3.7 Dissertation Technical Regulations


Dissertation Format
Subject to compliance with the specific requirements set out below, the format of the dissertation is
at the discretion of the student.

Technical Requirements
1.

As from 16 January 2015 the only valid means of submitting an MSc dissertation shall be
electronically via Turnitin as indicated below. Students shall not submit paper copies.

2.

The dissertation shall be a single electronic file, not exceeding 5Mb in size which will either be in
an MS Word compatible format, or a text based PDF which can be interrogated by Turnitin.
Submissions which do not comply with this regulation will be disregarded.

3.

The first page of the dissertation must comprise the Declaration on Conduct of Assessed
Coursework (there is a copy in the Assessment folder).

4.

The second page of the dissertation shall be printed with text (at least 14 point size) setting out
only the following information in the following order:
The University of Salford
School of the Built Environment
MSc with the name of the degree for which the dissertation is submitted
The title of the dissertation
The students full name
The year of submission

5.

The third page of the dissertation shall consist of an abstract (i.e. a brief summary of the entire
work). This shall summarize the area of study, the methods you used, your main findings, and
the conclusions you have drawn from these findings. This abstract should be set out in single
line spacing and should consist of only around 250 words of text.

6.

You must include as an Appendix the confirmation of the granting of Ethical Approval, without
which a valid dissertation submission cannot be made.

7.

Body text must be spaced at no more than 1.2 lines, quotations and footnotes (which are
discouraged) must be single-spaced. Standard text throughout the dissertation must be 11point size with other sizes permissible for non-standard text (for example headings, subheadings and footnotes). Choice of font is at the students discretion.

8.

A margin/border of approximately 15mm is required on all sides.

9.

Pages must be numbered consecutively throughout the dissertation.

Submission of Dissertations
10. Dissertations shall be submitted via Turnitin.

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11. There is one dissertation assessment point per semester. These dates are set by reference to
the dates of the Meetings of the Board of Examiners. Students who make a valid submission via
turnitin on or before an assessment point will have their dissertation marked in time for
consideration by the immediately following Board of Examiners.
12. For the avoidance of doubt, the three dissertation assessment points referred to above (and the
six research proposal assessment points) are dates set for the purposes of administrative
efficiency. These dates do not necessarily correlate with an individual students Research
Phase. Students should refer to the email communications issued to them by the Student
Information Directorate in respect of extensions of time to confirm the final date for submission
which applies to them personally, and ensure that they submit in accordance with that date.
Students should also be aware that the rules permitting up to 4 days late submission do not
apply at all in the Research Phase.

Student Obligations
13. Without detracting from the generality of the obligations set out above the student is entirely
responsible for the safe custody of all research material whether printed or stored on computer
disk or other storage device and shall be under an obligation to keep adequate numbers of
duplicate or back-up copies of such material.

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4.0 Important Information Relating to Assessed Work


I. OBLIGATION TO KEEP COPIES OF ALL WORK
Students MUST keep a spare copy of all work which they hand in as well as a copy of the digital receipt which is
issued to them at the time of submission.
II. PROVISIONAL NATURE OF MARKS & GRADES
All marks and grades issued to students are provisional until ratified by examination boards.
III. LAST DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS
The Research Phase (i.e. the final 60 Credits of a Masters Programme) is different from earlier parts of the
programme, because students are entitled, by virtue of the Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes to
extend time in certain circumstances. Further consideration of the applicable extension regime can be found in
Section 5.
The implication of this entitlement is that the usual rules which penalise students for missing deadlines only apply
at the end of the entire Research Phase. At this point Governance Services Unit have confirmed that the Late
Submission rules do not apply at all.
Every semester there are two points after which proposals are marked (middle and end), and one point after which
dissertations are marked (end).
The very last occasion on which you are entitled to submit either your proposal or your dissertation will be
determined by the Student Information Directorate in accordance with the Academic Regulations for Taught
Programmes.
IV.

ELECTRONIC SUBMSSIONS

By submitting your work through Turn-it-in you are declaring that

The work is your own;

Any element of the work which is the product of group work, has been produced in the manner
specifically sanctioned in the assignment brief;

The work of others has been properly acknowledged;

Experimental or other investigative results have not been falsified;

You acknowledge it is your responsibility to check the submission is in an accessible format (see
further below)

You have read and understood the University Policy on the Conduct of Assessed Work (Academic
Misconduct Procedure available from:
http://www.governance.salford.ac.uk/page/student_policies );

The work you are submitting has been produced without any academic misconduct (as defined in the
University Academic Misconduct Procedure document).

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Following submission, students are obliged to return to the Turnitin submission area. The button that was labelled
Submit will now be labelled View. Students should click the View button to view the submission in the same
format as the module tutor. If the file is corrupt, students should notify module tutors as a matter of urgency.
Failure to submit in an accessible format by the submission deadline will be recorded as a non-submission.
V. PENALTIES FOR LATE SUBMISSION
N/A see Section III above.
VI. UNFAIR MEANS (CHEATING)
Any attempt to gain an unfair advantage over other students in assessments is classed as unfair means (cheating).
The University takes a very serious view of this and students who are suspected of unfair means will either be
referred to the School Academic Misconduct Panel or to the University Discipline Committee.
Unfair means includes:
a) Plagiarism
Plagiarism involves taking the work of another person or source and using it as if it were ones own
(i.e. without properly referencing it)
b) Self plagiarism
Self plagiarism (or double submission) is resubmitting previously submitted work on one or more
occasions (without proper acknowledgement). This may take the form of copying either the whole
piece of work or part of it. Normally credit will already have been given for this work. This does not
apply to the re-use of some or all of your research proposal in your dissertation.
c) Collusion
Collusion occurs when, unless with official approval (e.g. in the case of group projects), two or more
students consciously collaborate in the preparation and production of work which is ultimately
submitted by each in an identical, or substantially similar, form and/or is represented by each to be
the product of his or her individual efforts. Collusion also occurs where there is unauthorised cooperation between a student and another person in the preparation and production of work which
is presented as the students own.
d) Falsifying experimental or other investigative results
This could involve a range of things that make it appear that information has been collected by
scientific investigation, the compilation of questionnaire results etc whereas in reality it has been
made up or altered to provide a more favourable result.
e)

Taking unauthorised material (including electronic devices) into an examination

f)

Contracting another to write a piece of assessed work / Writing a piece of assessed work for
another
This involves any means whereby a person does work on behalf of another. It includes assessments
done for someone else in full or in part by a fellow student, a friend or family member. It includes
sitting an examination for someone else. It also covers obtaining material from internet cheat sites
or other sources of work. Penalties for this type of unfair means will normally apply both to a
student of the University who does work on behalf of another and a student of the University who
has work done for him/her.
g)

Copying from, or communicating with, another examination candidate during an examination

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h) Bribery
This involves giving money, gifts or any other advantage to an academic member of staff which is
intended to give an unfair advantage in an assessment exercise.
VII

Particular care should be taken in respect of the following:

a)

Getting help from others / helping others

Students are encouraged to discuss and share ideas and information, however those who knowingly assist others
to commit academic misconduct whether or not for payment (e.g. by giving another student the opportunity to
copy part or all of a piece of work, by providing copies of assessments or by providing bespoke assignments to
another student) will be subject to the same penalties as those who use unfair means. Students must ensure that
they protect their own work, submit it themselves and do not allow other students to use their memory stick
and/or print off work on their behalf.

b)

Use of Readers/Note Takers

Students with special learning requirements who require the services of readers or note takers are advised to use
appropriately trained individuals. Further advice can be obtained from the Disability Service Team within Student
Life Directorate. http://www.advice.salford.ac.uk/disability
c)

Referencing

Students using work which has been produced by other people within an assignment will need to ensure that they
acknowledge or reference the source of the work. Students should check with their Schools for particular
requirements. Marks may be deducted for poor referencing. If poor referencing is extensive throughout a piece of
work it could appear that the student is trying to claim credit for the work and he/she may be deemed to have
committed plagiarism. Guidance on good referencing practice is available from Schools or may be provided through
research training programmes, the Study Skills Programme located in Student Life and on-line guidance provided by
Information & Learning Services. Some useful resources are: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/skillup
Penalties
If satisfied that unfair means has occurred, a penalty will be imposed on the student. Penalties vary depending on
whether the matter is referred to the School Academic Misconduct Panel or the University Disciplinary Committee
and on the particular circumstances. A range of penalties may be imposed including:
-

A penalty of 0% for the assessment component attempted using unfair means;


A penalty of 0% for the module affected by unfair means;
A penalty of 0% for the module affected by unfair means and the marks of all other modules
at that academic level being capped at the pass mark (40% for undergraduates, 50% for post
graduates).

In the most severe cases, where there are aggravating factors (e.g. that this is a repeated case of the use of
unfair means by a student at an advanced stage in their studies), a student found guilty of using unfair
means may be permanently expelled from the University.
Further details of the Academic Misconduct procedure are available from:
http://www.governance.salford.ac.uk/cms/resources/uploads/File/policies/Academic_Misconduct_Procedu
re.pdf
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5.0 Extensions of Time How long do I get?


The University position is that students are expected to complete the Dissertation module in the initial period
allotted to them; one semester for FT students, or two semesters for DL/PT students. The University policy is that
support, in the way of teaching sessions and active supervision, only covers that initial period.
Equally, the University recognises that sometimes research takes longer than other sorts of study, and so students
have a right to an extension of time. We set out in this Handbook the extension regime which applies to all new
students (i.e. if you first registered since September 2014, and also generally to students returning from
interruptions). Legacy students (i.e. a student who first registered before September 2014 who has not been on an
interruption since then) may benefit from an earlier regime, and if you are a Legacy student with an extension
query then please contact sobe-programme-support@salford.ac.uk.
Full details of the extension system is detailed in Section 6.4 of the Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes
which are available from here:
http://www.governance.salford.ac.uk/page/academic_handbook
We summarise the extension system below, however, a critical concept to grasp is that students must secure their
extension of time in advance of when it is needed. Extensions are handled by the Student Information Directorate,
and they are very strict. If you need an extension but fail to get it put in place on time (including payment of the
fee) then you will not have the benefit of that extension of time, and you will be processed through the exam board
without the benefit of the extension. The result will typically be that you will fail the module.
In addition, full time overseas students need to appreciate that the right to seek an extension of time to study will
rarely entitle them to a visa extension. This issue is considered further at 5.2 below.

5.1 How to request an extension of time


The process is handled online via this link:
http://www.mystudentinfo.salford.ac.uk/page/extensions
You must start the process no sooner than 4 weeks from when your research phase is scheduled to end and ideally
no later than two weeks before the end date. E.g. if you are an FT student expected to complete by 6 May 2016,
you should seek an extension no earlier than 8 April 2016 and ideally no later than 22 April 2016.
The process is relatively complex. You need to make the 250 payment, then upload your receipt as part of your
application process. In addition, if you are an FT student on a Tier 4 visa there is a process in relation to visa
extensions, albeit these are unlikely to be available, as discussed further at 5.2 below. All of this must be done
before your research phase ends.
It is vital that you look after your own interests in this regard. Extensions are administered by the central
University. The School has no discretion here and limited influence. Accordingly, if you fail to ask for your
extension in good time, or fail to pay whatever is required when it is required, then you will be treated as though
you have no extension in place.

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5.2 Visa implications


The Schools position is that overseas on campus students requiring an extension or doing a resit should ordinarily
return to their home country and will therefore not be eligible for extended Visas. This is because:

All teaching is delivered in the initial research phase;

SoBE students are provided with comprehensive online access to materials;

SoBE students do not generally require the use of laboratory or other facilities which are
only accessible by being physically in the UK;

Any supervisory activity which is desired can be carried out via technological means.

If a student considers that despite the above, an extension to a Visa is appropriate, they will need to make a case
for why there are exceptional circumstances for the student being in delay and requiring to remain in the UK. Such
a case will require evidence.

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6.0 What happens if I fail?


If you properly engage with the process, and with your Supervisor, from the beginning of the module, there is every
prospect that you will succeed at all stages. However, there will be some students who fail the proposal and/or the
dissertation. What happens then?

6.1 Failing the proposal


If you fail the proposal (i.e. get less than 50%), you do not need (and in fact are not initially entitled) to do a resit of
the proposal. What the failure mark means is that you have quite a bit of work to do on your research plan and you
need to make some progress, engage more with your Supervisor and ensure that your dissertation does not share
the flaws of your proposal. If you manage that, then you may well be able to lift the overall module mark high
enough to pass.
Remember that the proposal equates to 25% of the overall module, so you still have 75% of the marks left in order
to make up a shortfall. You can easily do the calculation yourself, but we have done a demonstration in this table:
Failed Prop Mark

Minimum Dissertation Mark Needed to pass overall

48 or 49
45 to 47
42 to 44
39 to 41
36 to 38
33 to 35
32 or 31
30

50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57

6.2 Failing the dissertation


If you fail the dissertation assessment (i.e. get less than 50%), then you will also, almost certainly, have failed the
entire Dissertation module. That failure needs first to be ratified by the next available Board of Examiners, and
following that you are required to do your resit in the semester(s) immediately following that Board of Examiners.
Full time students will have one semester for their resit. PT/DL students will have two semesters for their resit.
That resit will be your second and final attempt, and your module mark will be capped at a maximum of 50%.

6.3 Resitting the proposal?


If you fail the entire module, you are entitled to resit any component that you failed. So if you got 40% in the
proposal and 40% in the dissertation (overall module mark of 40%), you may attempt resits in both elements.
However, if you got 50% in the proposal and 40% in the dissertation (overall module mark 42.5%), you would only
be entitled to resit the dissertation.

6.4 Failures and extensions


You do not get any additional right to extensions of time in your resit phase, however, if you have not used your
extension by the time you fail your dissertation module, you may use it in the resit phase. Again, we recognise this
is complex, so if you have queries, please get in touch with us.

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7.0 Award Classifications & Graduation


7.1 Pass, Merit, Distinction
Rules relating to award classifications are set out in Section 9 of the Academic Regulations for Taught Programmes
which are available from:
http://www.governance.salford.ac.uk/page/academic_handbook
In brief, to get a Distinction you need an average of 70% or more in all of your modules INCLUDING 70% or more in
the Dissertation module overall (i.e. a weighted average of the proposal and dissertation). For a Merit you need
60% or more overall INCLUDING 60% or more in the Dissertation module overall. To pass, you need 50% or more
overall.

7.2 Graduation & Certificates


Details of Graduation and Certificates are available in the Exams, Assessments and Beyond section of the My
Student Info pages:
http://www.mystudentinfo.salford.ac.uk/
You can get your certificate posted out to you and details of how to request that are available from that link. N.B.
The University will only post out certificates to the address which is on your student record. Accordingly, before
requesting a certificate, you would prudent to check what address is on your record. You can do this via the Self
Service section:
http://students.salford.ac.uk/selfservice.php

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Feedback on MSc Research Methods Proposal


Student:

Appendix A Proposal Feedback Proforma


Programme:

Proposal Title:
Research related to
programme theme?

Yes/No

Marker initials:

If proposed research does not seem to be aligned with your Programme of Study, you must discuss this with your
Programme Leader and Supervisor. You may only do a dissertation on a topic related to your programme of study.
Weighting

20%

20%

Sections of the Proposal

Descriptor

Justification and focal Literature review: Need for the research convincing? Initial
literature review covering key texts (in relation to aim/objectives)? Critically
reviewed? Range of sources including research journals?

25%

Research Strategy: Discussion as to which research strategy(s) will be adopted?


Chosen strategy justified? Evidence of reading of research methods texts in order to
understand differing approaches to research?

25%

Implementation: Evidence of reading of research methods texts in order to


understand and justify research techniques used? Detailed justified explanation of
proposed methods for data collection? Detailed justified explanation of proposed
methods for data analysis? Understanding of potential problems and realistic
strategies to minimise those problems?

10%

Mark

Working title: Relatively short and simple? Provide an appropriate level of the
breadth/scope of study?
Aim (or RQ): Focused, unambiguous? Encapsulates the coverage and boundaries of
the proposed study? Appropriately related to the programme of study?
Hypothesis: (optional) Conjectural statement of the relationship between two or
more variables that can be measured?
Objectives: Appropriately cover all aspects suggested by the Aim? Statements of
intended outcomes? SMART?

Ethics: The ethical implications of the research have been appropriately considered?
Referencing: A standard method of referencing has been used? Is further work
required on referencing technique?
Use of English: Argument development? Level of spelling and grammar appropriate
for Masters level work?

Total Mark:

0%

1.

The marks stated above do not take account of any resit, or academic misconduct penalties which may apply,
and are subject to moderation and ratification by the Board of Examiners.

2.

Feedback and weighted marking contained in this sheet are here to help you develop your research and improve
your final dissertation. The comments should be discussed with your supervisor and considered as suggestions
of where greater clarity/explanation in the approach to your research may be needed.

3.

Ethics: You must have ethical approval for your research. Details of how to apply for this are in the Handbook.

4.

Extension: You must know when your research phase ends. If you need an extension, you must secure it well
before your current research phase ends, and make any payment necessary. To request an extension form,
email sobe-programme-support@salford.ac.uk .

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Narrative Feedback
Working title:
Aim (or Research Question):
Hypothesis:
Objectives:
Justification:
Literature review:
Strategy:
Implementation (including data
analysis):
Ethics:
Referencing:
Use of English:

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SCHOOL OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, THE UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD

Appendix B Dissertation Feedback


Proforma

STUDENT FEEDBACK FOR THE MSc DISSERTATION


The marks stated below do not take account of any resit, or academic misconduct penalties which may apply, and are subject to moderation and ratification by the
Board of Examiners.
Information regarding Graduation and Certificates is available from: http://www.mystudentinfo.salford.ac.uk/assessments
Student:

Programme:

Supervisor:

Dissertation Title:

Weighting

Research related to
programme theme?

Assessment Criterion

10%

Scope

20%

Understanding of Subject Matter

20%

Use of Sources

20%

Critical Analysis based on Evidence

20%

Structure of Argument

5%

Presentation/Communication

5%

Spelling, Grammar and Syntax

Descriptor (click cell to select)

Mark (out of 100)

Yes/No

Overall Mark

0%

SHORT SUMMARY PROVIDING AN OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE DISSERTATION


(in particular focusing on strong aspects of the dissertation, and where improvement could have been made, no need to duplicate Detailed Feedback)

DETAILED SUPERVISOR FEEDBACK


Important Marking Notes
Ensure that the feedback is contextualized and that your description is consistent with the descriptors set out below.
All information in the document will be given to the student as feedback. Save the file with programme, student
surname and awarded mark, eg CM_Smith_70.
Assessment Criterion
Scope
Aim,
objectives,
contextualization
/
setting,
justification, etc
Understanding of subject matter
Review of the literature
Use of sources
Justification of secondary data / source research
strategy (systematic review / content analysis, using
published statistics etc). Justification of approach to
secondary data analysis underpinned by research
methodology texts. Overall it should be more than a
continuation of the literature review (which is
assessed within understanding of subject matter
section).
OR
Justification of the chosen research strategy (survey,
case study etc), and the chosen research techniques
(interview, questionnaire etc) that fit under the
strategy, underpinned by research methodology
texts. Practical implementation of data collection.
Justification of approach to primary data analysis,
underpinned by research methodology texts
Critical analysis based on evidence
Critical analysis of the data either as a secondary
research based dissertation, or based on empirical
data.
Structure of argument
Ties the results and analysis back to the literature
and asks so what? which can be asked within a
discussion chapter, or if not discussion chapter, an
extensive conclusion
Presentation / communication
See Grade Descriptors + Including using Harvard
appropriately throughout the dissertation, and in the
list of references
Spelling, grammar, syntax
Appropriate for masters level work

Contextualized Feedback specific to the submitted


dissertation