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General Assignment Guidance for Students

The purpose of the assignments The assignments are intended to test the students capabilities in the following key areas that are essential for effective performance as a manager or executive: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) The design, implementation and review of strategy in an applied context. Integrative thinking and action developing alignment (bundling) between connected functional strategies. Situational analysis identifying the core issues, the opportunities and the threats. Investigative skills generating evidence-based proposals. Information management separating facts from assumptions, beliefs from evidence. Problem-solving and decision-making both analytical and creative. Influence and persuasion techniques when defending or promoting recommendations. Presentation methods for reader-friendly, business-focused reports.

It is important to emphasise that the above capabilities are critical parts of the managers toolkit and have been included here not just because of their convenience for assessment purposes. The selection of an assignment topic It follows that an acceptable assignment topic must fulfil a number of expectations, not least that it should permit or enable the student to demonstrate the above capabilities. Therefore it must: (1) Be concerned with a live, authentic problem or opportunity. (2) Be linked directly with a specific organisation, business sector or economic environment. (3) Exhibit a comparative thrust, i.e. a comparison between organisations, between sectors or between nations. (4) Represent a theme for which there already exists available, preferably researchbased, literature. (5) Incorporate opportunities for integration between theory and practice. (6) Have a strategic rather than a solely operational orientation. (7) Reflect the values of integration that underpin the whole assessment process, i.e. have resonance with all the principal dimensions of the relevant unit syllabus. An assignment topic will not be acceptable if: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) It is entirely theoretical or academic in nature and scope. It is historical, i.e. simply recounts past events without drawing lessons for future business practice. It has no grounding in the reality of organisations. It presents no opportunity for learning, i.e. conclusions to be drawn, lessons to be learned, and solutions to be devised and advocated. It only addresses one aspect of the syllabus for the relevant unit.

Note: Assignments that contain any of the above five features are unlikely to receive a pass grade.

Producing the assignments The format of the assignment (usually a report) will depend on the instructions for the individual unit and students should consult the individual unit guidance documents available on the Members Area of the ABE website. The assignment should include the following sections: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Title page title of the assignment, authors name, date. Contents page each section itemised with page numbers. Declaration by the author that the assignment is an original work (with signature). Introduction brief outline of the assignment theme, reasons for selecting it, and the general background. The main body of the assignment, which should include: facts, findings, discussion and analysis with suitable sections and headings; methods of investigation used for research; references to literature cited in the body of the assignment; conclusions inferences and deductions from the facts and findings, and the recommendations (no new facts or findings should appear at this stage). Bibliography texts/sources consulted but not cited. Appendices where required. A self-evaluation section about the learning acquired by the student during the production of the assignment, i.e. the selection of a suitably manageable topic, the literature search, the other methodologies employed, etc. What has the student learned from this exercise that can be applied to their future education and career?

(6) (7) (8)

Word Count The word count for this assignment is 3,500 words. A tolerance of +/- 10% is allowed where no penalty is incurred. Where an assignment falls outside this tolerance the total mark awarded will be reduced. Assignments which are up to 10% under or above the word count tolerance will be subject to a deduction of 5 marks, with subsequent penalties of an extra 5 marks deducted for every further 10% as shown below:

Percentage over or under the tolerance Up to 10% Every further 10%

Marks deducted 5 marks A further 5 marks

For clarification the word count applies to the entire body of the text (i.e. including headings, citations, content of tables and diagrams) but does not include the reference list or the appendices. Materials included in appendices should add to the readers understanding of the assignment. All appendices must be cited within the body of the assignment and must be clearly numbered. An accurate electronic word count must be noted on the front of all assignments. The penalty for not providing a word count, or for providing an inaccurate word count, will be a deduction of 3 marks.