INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………………………….. 3
1: INITIATION OF THE THESIS ………………………………………………….. 4
1.1 THESIS SUPERVISION ……………………………………………………… 4
1.2 PLANNING AND USE OF TIME …………………………………………….. 4
1.3 THE THESIS TOPIC………………………………………………………….. 5
1.5 THE INVESTIGATION ……………………………………………………….. 6
1.6 MONITORING PROGRESS ………………………………………………….. 6
2: WRITING THE THESIS………………………………………………………….. 8
2.2 ORDER OF THESIS ………………………………………………………….. 8
2.3 OUTLINE OF DRAFT DOCUMENT………………………………………….. 9
2.4 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………. 10
2.5 BODY OF THE THESIS…………………………………………………….. 11
2.7 CONCLUSIONS …………………………………………………………….. 12
2.8 FOOTNOTES ………………………………………………………………… 12
2.9 QUOTING SOURCES ………………………………………………………. 12
2.10 REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………… 13
2.11 BIBLIOGRAPHY …………………………………………………………… 13
2.12 APPENDICES………………………………………………………………. 14
2.13 ABSTRACT…………………………………………………………………. 14
2.14 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS………………………………………………….. 14
2.15 CONTENTS ………………………………………………………………… 14
2.16 FINAL DRAFT CHECK ……………………………………………………. 14
2.18 ORIGINALITY ……………………………………………………………… 15
2.19 NOTES FOR TYPING THE THESIS……………………………………… 16
3: THE ASSESSMENT OF THE THESIS ………………………………………… 19
3.1 INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………. 19
3.2 ASSESSMENT ………………………………………………………………. 19
APPENDICES……………………………………………………………………….. 21

Appendix A – Honours Thesis Assessment Grid Appendix B – BS4200 Module Performance Descriptor Appendix C – Sample Title Page
Appendix D – Abstract
Appendix E – Sample Acknowledgements
Appendix F – Sample Contents Page
Appendix G – Example of Lists of Tables and Figures


The Undergraduate Thesis module (BS4203) is a 30-credit core module on at Aberdeen Business School. It therefore makes a very significant contribution to your final degree award classification. You must pass this module to qualify for an Honours degree.

The aim of the Thesis module is to enable you to apply the knowledge and experience you have gained in your course to a research problem relevant to your course of study and to produce a 12,000 word (plus or minus an allowance of 10%, i.e. between 10,800 and 13,200 words) thesis on your research topic.

This document provides a guide to your initiation and writing of the thesis and how it will be assessed (refer also to Appendices A and B).

The thesis is worth 100% of the module mark. Additional information and guidance will be provided on your module on CampusMoodle. You are also strongly advised to review your learning materials and the recommended textbooks in BS4289 Research Methods as this module provided the theoretical underpinning and the development of the Research Proposal for your thesis.

Key Contacts:

Module Coordinator: Peter Strachan
Email: [email protected]

Administrator: Kelly Howie
Email: [email protected]



Students should be quite clear at the outset of the difference between the role and responsibilities placed on them and those of the supervisory staff (refer to Section 2 for more specific information about what to expect from Supervisors concerning feedback on drafts). Usually, a member of staff will be allocated to each student for the purposes of thesis supervision. The supervisor should be the student’s prime guide on how to conduct the process of researching and writing the thesis. It is not the case that the supervisor will do the work for the student. The initiative in this relationship lies with the student, since the supervisor has no direct responsibility for the detailed investigation, or the content of the submitted thesis. Thus, the role of the supervisor can be summarised as being available to guide and advise a student on a particular line of action or indicating shortcomings, as opposed to taking detailed control of the project.

The final document is the student’s submission in respect of the degree, and not that of the supervisor. Thus, the material or views presented in the thesis do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the supervisor, Aberdeen Business School or the Robert Gordon University.

In addition to your supervisor, there are other possible sources of guidance or assistance. Some theses may require specialist advice on aspects beyond the particular expertise of a student’s personal supervisor. Should such an instance arise, guidance should be obtained from the relevant specialist through the supervisor.

If students are undertaking thesis work which requires the support and co- operation of an external organisation they should obtain the written permission of the particular organisation and ensure that any ethical issues are discussed prior to undertaking the study (at the thesis proposal stage).


There is a common sequence of events in any project:

(a) Select an appropriate subject or topic area for investigation;
(b) Develop a clear aim, specific objectives and prepare a detailed plan of action;
(c) Undertake an investigation covering both desk research and empirical fieldwork;
(d) Complete the submission in the form of a written thesis.

It is imperative to have a firm plan detailing the allocation and control of the available time. More students fail to do themselves justice because of this aspect, than for problems related to the choice of the subject or specialist knowledge required. Time management problems usually arise as a result of the following:

• Lack of appreciation that the allocation of two similar lengths of calendar time will not necessarily relate to similar amounts of personal physical effort. For example, deciding which subject to research and examining the feasibility of the proposed topic can be very time consuming with spells of inactivity. Whilst, the actual investigation can be very active and consequently, far more productive per unit of calendar time;
• Students often place too great an emphasis on the time for investigation leading to insufficient time for the other important stages. Remember that people are busy and have a job to do – time for interviews may have to be limited or achieved in a series of short spells spanning a relatively long period. You should rarely expect to achieve a long, uninterrupted interview, an immediate response to correspondence, prompt provision of data, the ready availability of a vital book in the library etc. People go on holiday, are sick, change their job – the allocation of time and effort must take account of such potential eventualities.


(a) Produce a plan of action at the outset
(b) Monitor progress closely – where necessary adjust the plan and timing to meet the aim.


The thesis topic may come from one of a number of sources. The most obvious is from the Honours subjects being studied. Look at the modules you are studying and identify topics within them that you find particularly interesting. It is also possible that a thesis may arise out of an aspect of the student’s past employment experience. It may also be directly related to the student’s previous modules of study or more general business interests. Students should also discuss possible thesis topics with lecturers and tutors. It is imperative that students should choose a topic which they will enjoy researching has a strong academic underpinning and is a feasible area of investigation.

The thesis must be original work (refer to Section 2.17 Originality) and you are required to submit your draft and final versions to Turnitin UK for checking prior to submission (details of how to do this will be provided in the lectures and on the CampusMoodle page for the module). You will also submit a copy of your final Turnitin report with your thesis. A penalty of one

grade point (i.e. 10 percentage marks) deduction will be applied in the marking for submissions without a Turnitin report.


The student is responsible for contacting their supervisor. The first meeting is vital and you must take all of the material gathered to date with you, be prepared to discuss your ideas in detail and firm-up on a timetable with your supervisor.

Further details about what you can expect from supervisors, what will be expected of you and the number of meetings you are expected to arrange will be provided in the separate guidance available on the CampusMoodle page for the module.


The main investigation should now proceed on the basis of the agreed initial plan and timetable. It will typically include a mixture of primary and secondary research.

The thesis aims to provide the student with practical experience of relating research to fieldwork and making use of specialist guidance from the thesis supervisor. The following questions should be addressed before commencing the investigation:

• Is the data in the form required to meet the precise aim of the thesis?
• Is the data in the form required to apply the appropriate analytical techniques?
• What are the appropriate analytical techniques?
• Are there any legal or data handling problems?
• Is specialist advice and guidance required?
• Does the initial research plan require modification?
• Is the computer software that I am using outwith the University compatible with that available in the Business School?


It is the responsibility of the student to maintain contact with the Supervisor. Please ensure that your thesis supervisor is informed of your progress and any changes or problems. In addition, you should make a conscious, regular check that the research does not stray outside of the primary aim and that the agreed timetable is being adhered to.

Your supervisor must see any research instrument (for example, questionnaire, interview schedule, focus group plan) that you plan to issue, well before you use it

At some stage there is an end to the fieldwork and this will be followed by the analysis which, in turn, will lead to the preparation of the final draft copy of the thesis. It should be noted that this is not necessarily a clean break, and instances will arise where important information is required to prove or clarify a certain aspect of the research.


The thesis is written by the student under the direction of the supervisor.


The arrangements for writing the draft thesis for feedback should be agreed with the Supervisor at the first meeting. Deadlines will be set for the submission of each chapter but these submissions are optional and you may decide that you would rather produce just one complete draft by an agreed date before the submission deadline.

If you decide on the latter, there are risks in having feedback later on in the writing-up. If this approach is taken, it is important that you give your supervisor adequate time to make comments on the draft of the thesis. It is not practical or reasonable for the supervisor to make constructive comments if she/he is handed the final draft days before the deadline is due. As a guide the supervisor should have the complete draft for comments at least 3 weeks before the deadline.

However, students and staff may find it more beneficial to submit individual draft chapters for comment on an ongoing basis – this is the recommended approach as it means feedback is provided at an earlier stage. A timetable to chapter submission dates has been set and dropboxes for each chapter will be opened on Campus Moodle. If this approach is agreed, your supervisor will review one draft of each chapter before submission (as long as the drafts are provided in good time for review before the final submission date). The supervisor may also wish to see one complete draft of the thesis so that he/she can give feedback on the overall presentation and logical flow of the whole thesis. At this stage it is expected that you will have addressed the feedback on individual chapters and any further comments will be of a more general nature.

Your supervisor will provide constructive feedback on the draft(s) on, for example, the structure, readability (logical flow of argument), content coverage, depth of analysis and referencing. The supervisor will not proofread your work or tell you what to write and under no circumstances will he/she give you an estimated grade for your work (please do not ask for this).


The technical presentation includes the following sequence of contents:

Title Page (a sample is given in Appendix C) Abstract (refer to Appendix D) Acknowledgements (refer to Appendix E) Glossary of Terms (where appropriate) Contents (refer to Appendix F)
List of Tables
List of Figures

[start of numbered chapters and sections]
1.0 Introduction – (background, research problem, rationale, aim and objectives, thesis structure)
2.0 Review of Theory/Literature (issues-based discussion of the secondary research)
3.0 Methodology (review of research methods, justification and description of methods applied)
4.0 Results (of the primary research)
5.0 Analysis/Discussion (of issues based on primary and secondary research)
6.0 Conclusions (with reference to the original aim and objectives)
7.0 Recommendations (where appropriate)
[end of numbered chapters and sub-sections] References (listed and cited in Harvard format)
Bibliography (listed in Harvard format)
Appendices (listed here and referred to in the thesis content)

This is a guide; your chosen chapter and sections headings should reflect the nature and focus of your thesis. This list does not reflect the logical sequence of completing the draft. For example, the first item in the list, the abstract, cannot be written until the main body of the thesis and its related findings are completed.


Before commencing the draft, prepare a plan (or outline) of the proposed contents, with reference to the original plan, supplemented by the experience gained during investigation.

• Set out in sequence a list of all the major sections
• Expand this detail to cover group or paragraph headings. If known include tables, diagrams, appendices
• Put each heading and sub-breakdown on a separate sheet of A4 paper in the correct sequence.

Thus, you will have the skeleton outline on which the draft can proceed, each heading or part of the thesis being handled as a separate entity. The time spent on this approach can bring order to the considerable amount of information previously gathered during the conduct of the research.

The thesis should be a convincing, clear and unambiguous document. It should be concisely written in clear language, reflecting the student’s professional style and contribution. Avoid a long-winded, rambling presentation, having no natural flow or sequence. The thesis should be written in the past tense (it describes what was done, not what will be done) and third person singular.

e.g. “It was decided to analyse the results according to the methods of Smith (1995). For this reason it was first necessary to compute the mean and standard deviations. After further analysis, it became

obvious that the required data was not available and so an alternative
method by Jones (1997) was adopted”.

Do NOT write ‘I decided to analyse….’ and avoid making reference to yourself as ‘the author’ unless it is absolutely necessary.

If all items prepared for the draft are written in the third person singular, it prevents extensive rewriting at a later date.


The introduction sets the scene for the research. It should briefly cover the background leading to the topic being examined, explain the research problem and the rationale (i.e. why it is important and timely and who the beneficiaries are) for the investigation (with reference to supporting literature), define the scope of the study and set out the research aim and objectives. The final section of the Introduction Chapter should explain the structure of the remaining thesis chapters. The introduction should not assume any knowledge of the research in the reader: it should not assume the reader has read the research proposal or the abstract of the thesis. If relevant, the introduction should mention any assumptions or limitations placed on parameters of the research. Please note that both the emphasis and content of this chapter is likely to change considerably as the thesis progresses and develops. It is therefore sensible to leave this until the end of the process at which point you will be better able to draw together what you have done.

2.4.1 Aim and Objectives

The aim and objectives for your thesis research should be clearly defined in your Research Proposal and clearly stated in the Thesis. You may need to revise your original aim and objectives based on the feedback on your proposal or as the research progresses.

It is very important that the scope of your work is well defined and that you have a clear, well focused aim and specific objectives for your thesis research. If the scope is not clear, the aim is too broad and the objectives are too general, it will be difficult to achieve the aim and objectives for the research in the time you have available and it will also be more difficult for you to keep within the word count limit (see Section 2.19.3).

The aim of the thesis is of particular importance. It should be clear, concise and easily understood. The aim should reflect the scope and purpose of the research; what it will achieve and how. An outline or framework for the aim might be: to [action] a [type of study] in [scope] to [purpose]. An example is: to conduct an in-depth case study of the use of LinkedIn by Business School graduates to determine its suitability for alumni communications and marketing.

The objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. They should set out what will be achieved at each stage of the research to meet the aim. In particular, there should be a clear objective for the literature review so that it does not become a long general and wordy description of the background on the topic. There should be one or two objectives for the primary research (e.g. to investigate, to obtain) and an objective for the analysis (e.g. to analyse, evaluate, synthesise) and for the thesis research output (e.g. to make recommendations, to produce a framework, to develop a topology).


The body of the thesis covers the presentation of theory, methods, evidence and data gathered during the investigation and your analysis. It should be presented in a logical sequence, divided into major chapters and sections. Each Chapter should have a brief introduction and a short summary. A properly prepared draft plan, covering major chapters, sections, group or paragraph headings, together with related titles of any tables, diagrams or appendices, will help you to establish a structure or framework for the thesis.

(a) Ensure that you start a new page for each new chapter.
(b) When producing the draft, pay attention to the detailed method of presenting lists, figures or references to published literature (refer to Section 2.6). If these are formatted in the correct manner in the first instance it saves time and effort later on.
(c) Ensure that statements are backed up by the inclusion of supporting theory and evidence, from the literature or obtained by the use of questionnaires, records or statistics. Make cross-reference in the body of the thesis to such items that are usually included as appendices.
(d) Indication should be given where information is from personal investigation, as opposed to straightforward extracts of company data.


Tables should be laid out to be both informative and easily read. This is particularly important when using percentages. Wherever possible, percentages should be rounded up to 100% i.e. totals add up to 100%. This removes the need for using figures such as 12.03%, which take up more space than 12% and is equally informative. Where percentages are used also indicate the sample size from which the percentage is calculated. Percentages of very small numbers are of no value. Where possible you should use a vertical presentation so as to avoid the need to turn the page in order to read the table. When included in the text, tables and figures should appear immediately after the relevant comment, and have their own title and table or figure number. Examples of Presentation of Tables and Figures:

Table 3.1 Car Production in Ruritania 1990-1997

1990 Car Production ‘ 000
1991 2.0
1992 1.9
1993 1.5
1994 2.6
1995 4.3
1996 7.2
1997 8.1

Source: UN Economic Statistics Year Book, 1997, p72.


All theses will end with conclusions, since they are not intended to be purely descriptive documents. Conclusions should not introduce new material. They should always be related to material previously presented in the text of the thesis. It is a good practice to identify the location of such information by including a reference to the appropriate page or appendix in the particular conclusion. It is a common error to draw a conclusion gained during the investigation which has not been discussed in the body of the thesis. Similarly, material is often erroneously included which calls for a conclusion to be drawn, while no conclusion is made. Examiners can only assess the information presented. Conclusions should be direct, in simple language, and set out as separate paragraphs. The paragraphs should have a natural flow, being related to the sequence of events, or by the grouping of like aspects such as policy, finance and adverse situations or actions. Importantly, the conclusions should be clearly related to any hypotheses, research objectives or research questions as well as to the findings of previous studies provided in the literature review. It is also appropriate to indicate further avenues of research as well as limitations of the study.

Please note that many good theses have been spoilt by students not spending enough time on the conclusions.


These can be useful to clarify or provide further information without breaking up the flow of the text. Various methods can be used. One common practice is a number or letter at each point referring to a footnote at the bottom of the page. An excessive use of footnotes can interrupt the smooth flow of the text. Alternatively, footnotes can be detailed at the end of each chapter. This is often a simpler method of presenting them and is less complicated when typing up. Footnotes must not be used for references.


It is important to quote fully sources in support of your arguments. When quoting from a source it is normal to use single spacing and to indent. In addition you should quote the year of the article and the page reference.

For example:
It is evident that the pricing decision in business is complex. As

Cunningham (1993 p. 46) argues,

“It cannot be stressed enough that the pricing decision is more of an art than a science. Most companies rely on a variety of factors, placing as much emphasis on “gut-feeling” as elaborate pricing formulae and techniques.”

This conclusion was arrived at after an in-depth study of twelve small companies set up in the North of Scotland in the last decade.


In order to understand and cover various aspects of a thesis, students will read a range of high quality relevant literature including journal articles, specialist textbooks and reports. (Wikipedia and online dictionaries are not regarded as a suitable source for an Honours thesis.) These materials may have been used to cover the subject in general, or to enable a quote or comment to be made on a particular theory, opinion or fact. Items which have been consulted but are not directly referred to in the text should be included in the Bibliography section. Items which have been used as a source of ideas or quotes should be cited in the text and listed as references. All citations and items listed in the Bibliography and References sections must be in Harvard format. Additionally, references and bibliography items in Harvard format must be listed in alphabetical order of author’s surnames.

Specific advice on referencing (with examples) is available from the
University library website at: students/library/referencing

(Click on the link to ‘Harvard Referencing’ for more information
Please also refer to Section 2.17 Originality.


The Bibliography provides sources of background information indicative of areas in which you have researched but which have not been cited as references. The format for listing bibliography items is the same as for references.


Appendices are not counted as being within the word limitation of the thesis. Material for appendices, e.g. organisation charts, copy of questionnaire, sales turnover of product for 1969 – 1998, is usually obtained during the investigation. The appendices should be included in the sequential order in which they are first mentioned in the text.


This goes at the beginning of the thesis but can only be produced after the introduction, body of the thesis, appendices, conclusions and recommendations have been completed. An abstract is a resume or précis of the subject under investigation, the aim, how it was tackled, together with reference to the conclusions/recommendations. It is a one-page standalone summary of the whole thesis and should not be written as an introduction to the thesis. It should not contain any text formatting, references or quotes (Appendix D).


This gives the student the opportunity to formally acknowledge the contribution of an employer or individual who has given assistance or advice (Appendix E). This should be a formal rather than a personal acknowledgement.


The draft is completed by preparing the contents page. It should be noted that the items can only be listed in order at this stage as the page numbers will not be available until after the final thesis has been typed (Appendix F). For a more professional finish, students are advised to use the facility to automatically generate a table of contents from your thesis headings and subheadings within the word processing software you are using.


Before proceeding to type the final version of the thesis, the draft should be rechecked for the following basic points:

(a) Are the aim and objectives clearly stated?
(b) Is all of the material directly relevant to the aim?
(c) Does the discussion of the results relate back to the hypotheses or research questions being tested or examined, and the findings of previous studies detailed in the literature review?
(d) Do the conclusions identify the key findings of the research and
suggest possible areas for future research?
(e) Has the draft been consistently written in the third person singular?


Students are required to produce ONE comb-bound paper copies and an electronic copy of the final thesis for submission. In addition to the copies of the thesis (but not bound to it), a thesis submission form (available on the CampusMoodle page for the module) and a Turnitin Report must be submitted (refer to Section 2.18 Originality).

The thesis submission date is 1pm on Wednesday 15th April 2019.

Extension requests on the appropriate form (available from: and regulations/academic-regulations-student-formsregulations/academic- regulations-student-forms)
All forms must be emailed to [email protected] before the submission date.


Your thesis submission must be your own original work and all sources of data, information, quotes and diagrams must be acknowledged by citing references. This is an individual assignment and so you must not collude or copy (plagiarise) the work of another student (past or present).

Plagiarism and Collusion

“Plagiarism is the practice of presenting thoughts, writings or other output of another or others as original, without acknowledgement of their source(s). All material used to support a piece of work, whether a printed publication or from electronic media, should be appropriately identified and referenced and should not normally be copied directly unless as an acknowledged quote. Text translated into the words of the individual student should in all cases acknowledge the source.” For further information please refer to: and support/writing-supportsupport/study-support/writing-support

Before submitting the work, you must check through it to ensure that:

• all material, that has been identified as originally from a previously published source, has been properly attributed by the inclusion of an appropriate reference citation (in Harvard format) in the text;
• direct quotations are marked as such (using “quotation marks” at
the beginning and end of the selected text), and
• the full details of the reference citation have been included in the list of references (in Harvard format).

A Turnitin Originality Report is required as part of your coursework submission (as a separate printed document, it should not be bound to the thesis or included as an appendix). You do not need to print the whole report, just the summary showing the percentage similarities with sources. Please check that your work meets originality requirements prior to submission of the final version of your thesis using the online Turnitin software. Direct links to the turnitin sites for uploading your draft and final version are located in the CampusMoodle site for the BS4203 module (no username and password are required when you use these direct links). Please note that the Turnitin Report will show the overall percentage similarity of your work with source material. The recommended upper limit is 25% similarity but you should check the detail in the report to ensure that there are no large sections of your work which are marked as similar before submission. You are advised to check a draft and final version of your thesis in advance of submission so that you can address any sections which are highlighted in the Turnitin report.

A penalty of one grade point (i.e. 10 percentage marks) deduction will be applied in the marking for submissions without a Turnitin report.


2.19.1 Style and Format

The thesis should be word processed and printed on A4 paper with one and a half line spacing used throughout except in the case of direct quotations which should be single spaced. All text should be justified. Headings and sub-headings will normally be emboldened in the usual manner. The thesis should be typed using a sans serif font (such as Verdana) and a font size of at least 11pt. The thesis pages may be printed on both sides of the paper (to save paper) but a new chapter should be printed on a new right-hand facing page in the bound copy. Recycled paper may be used.

Students should check that all references included in the text are listed and that the RGU Harvard style of listing and citing references has been employed.

REMEMBER: Both the style and format of your thesis are extremely important in terms of conveying an appropriate impression to the assessor. Avoid illustrations and logos inside the bound thesis and use formal language and a professional presentation style throughout.


The left-hand margin is 1.5 inches; all other margins are at least 1 inch.

Page Numbering

The pages are numbered consecutively. The page number is placed centrally in the bottom 1 inch margin. The opening pages have small, Roman numerals (up to, and including, list of figures as detailed in Order of Thesis), with the text proper having Arabic numerals.


The text will usually be divided into numbered chapters with sections and sub-sections. Each chapter should start on a new page to give the necessary degree of emphasis.


Titles of chapters may be shown as centre page headings and emboldened. Section and sub-section headings are normally left-aligned and emboldened. You may vary the style as long as you are consistent throughout the thesis. You are advised to use standard or customised heading styles available in Microsoft Word so that your Table of Contents can be automatically be generated from them (refer to the online Microsoft Word help facility for details). This ensures accuracy and a professional format.

Tables and Figures

Tables and Figures must be numbered and titled. These should be included in the list of tables and figures (Appendix G). They should be numbered consecutively according to the Chapter in which they are located (for example, the first Figure in Chapter 2 is Figure 2.1). All Figures and Tables must be referred to by number in the thesis text (for example, ‘the data is presented in Table 2.3’) and not by their location (i.e. not using ‘the following table shows the data’ or ‘the table below shows the data’.)

2.19.2 Final Check after Word Processing

Many theses fail to do full justice to the efforts made. They do not follow the required standard of layout and sequence of content. They are often found to contain spelling mistakes or typing errors. Little excuse exists for failure to proof-read the final copy. If in doubt get someone else to proofread your thesis for typographical and grammatical errors.

2.19.3 Word Limit

The word limit for an undergraduate thesis submission is 12,000 words (plus or minus ten percent without penalty in the marking scheme i.e. strictly between 10,800 and 13,200 words). This limit excludes words in the title page, contents page, acknowledgements, abstract, tables, references list, bibliography and appendices. Please note that although

content in the appendices is not included in the word count, appendices are part of the thesis and must be referred to in the body of the thesis (for example, ‘the questionnaire sent to participating managers is provided in Appendix A’). Appendices should not be excessive in length and should only be included if they are directly relevant to the thesis. Please also note that tables must not be used to include additional text, they must only be used to present summary data/information.

The word count limit must be strictly adhered to as it is regarded as being critical to the assessment of your ability to write concisely on a focused research topic.

Theses which are under the word limit may lack depth of discussion and detailed explanation. Theses which are over the word limit may not be written concisely or sufficiently focused on the topic and penalties will be applied for this in the marking scheme (Appendix A) and also in the overall mark for the thesis as follows: Theses that do not fall within the permitted word count range will be penalised by the deduction of one grade point, that is equivalent to 10 percentage marks (e.g. the final mark will be reduced from grade B to grade C etc.).

It is therefore very important that you check and record the word count of your thesis accurately. The word count must be stated on the title page of the thesis (Appendix A) and the Thesis Submission Form (refer to Section
2.17) which is submitted with the thesis.



The thesis is assessed by two internal examiners, one of whom is normally the student’s supervisor. The second marker will mark the thesis independently. In the event of a discrepancy in the marks a third internal marker may be used to adjudicate. Finally external examiners will be used to verify the standards of marking and to report on these to the Examination Board. The feedback you receive on your thesis will be the agreed mark and feedback from the markers; you will not receive separate feedback from each marker.


The following basic aspects are covered by examiners when making their assessment:

a) Presentation and Layout. As at the interview for a job, the general appearance of the thesis makes a good or bad impression on the examiner. Is it in the format recommended? Does it have all of the various parts in the right sequence? Are the diagrams and figures well laid-out?

The above points are not concerned with the detail or accuracy of the evidence; it is simply a first reaction as to whether the thesis is in a fit state to be presented either to the examiner or a company representative.

b) Evidence/Material Detail. The examiner can only assess the evidence actually presented. Thus, the first main point is the examiner’s base reference for the whole of the evidence and resultant conclusions.

Following the aim, the evidence should then have a natural, logical flow in the presentation of the facts. All avenues should have been explored and followed to their natural conclusion. The material content must be complete and not dependent on information unknown or not presented to the examiner.

c) Assessment of Facts. While the preceding paragraph covers the evidence gathered, the aim of this part of the assessment is to reflect the use made of such information. This can reflect an awareness of where and how to obtain specialist advice and opinion. A complete study thus reflects not only the ability to gather all the relevant facts, but also the analysis and use of such data.

Appendix A is an extract from the marking proforma issued to thesis examiners. The grid is reproduced here to give students an idea of what examiners are looking for.

For BA (Hons) Management Programme students the thesis is 100% of the BS4203 module mark. There is one resit opportunity with the module but Honours classification is determined from the mark achieved at first attempt. If you have mitigating circumstances which prevent you from submitting your Research Proposal or Thesis, you must contact your Head of Year as soon as possible so that your case can be presented to the Assessment Board for your course in June.


CLASSIFICATION First (A) 2.1 (B) 2.2 (C) Third (D) Marginal Fail (E) Fail (F)
DEFINITION EXCELLENT Outstanding Performance COMMENDABLE Meritorious Performance GOOD
Highly Competent
Performance SATISFACTORY Competent Performance MARGINAL FAIL Open to Compensation FAIL Unsatisfactory
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES (5%) The aim is extremely well focused and clearly attainable. The objectives clearly identify PRECISELY how the aim is to be achieved. The aim is clearly stated and attainable. The objectives are
clear and indicate how
the aim is to be achieved. The aim is reasonably well stated albeit rather general. The objectives provide some indication of how the aim is to be achieved. The aim is indicative rather than specific. The objectives tend to focus on the process rather than the specific attainment of the aim. The aim is too broad with objectives that demonstrate only a marginal link to the aim. The aim and objectives are not focused or clearly stated. There may be multiple aims and/or too many spurious objectives.
LITERATURE REVIEW (30%) The literature review is concise, comprehensive and relevant. It is issue driven and clearly identifies and critically evaluates the salient debates pertaining to the topic. It fully supports the rationale for the research and identifies specific research questions for the primary investigation. The literature review is concise and reasonably comprehensive. The key themes are identified and many of the key issues are critically evaluated. It supports the main rationale for the research and identifies research questions for the primary investigation. The literature review is mainly based upon the main references and there is some critical evaluation of the key issues. It tends to be descriptive and lacks purpose in some areas and/or could have been written more concisely by focussing on the debates and developing specific research questions. The literature review
is based upon some of the main references but there are some omissions. The issues are discussed but this is mainly descriptive and there is a general lack of critical evaluation. The literature review is rather limited and whilst some of the issues are identified there is some confusion or lack of focus or purpose in the discussion. The literature review is far too limited and there is only a notional attempt to identify the relevant issues. The review is descriptive and lacks focus and purpose.

METHODOLOGY (DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS) (15%) The hypotheses/ research questions clearly emerge from the literature review and are very well focused, appropriately stated and clearly testable. The method(s) of data collection are clearly identified and there is a clear and logical rationale for the
choice of technique(s).
The student has clearly identified and justified the selection of the specific analytical techniques to be used. There is a strong link with an overall research philosophy and approach. The methodology is detailed but focussed and concise. The hypotheses/ research questions emerge from the review and are well focused. The method(s) of data collection are identified and a good rationale for selection provided. The student has clearly identified and justified the use
of the general
technique(s) of analysis to be used. There is a clear link with an overall research philosophy and approach. The methodology is focussed and concise. The hypotheses/ research questions are stated and well focused. The
method(s) of data
collection are identified and some rationale for selection is provided. The techniques of analysis to be used have been identified. The methodology is well structured but could have been more detailed or more focussed and concise. Some attempt has been made to state the hypotheses/research questions but these
tend to lack focus. The data collection technique(s) are described but the justification for selection is not fully explained. There is some attempt to identify the
techniques of analysis
but this is rather general. The methodology is reasonably well structured but could have been more detailed or more focussed and concise. The hypotheses/ research questions are too general. The data collection technique(s) are referred to but there is no real
attempt to justify this
selection. There is only passing reference to the techniques of analysis.
The methodology
lacks detail or focus. The hypotheses/ research questions are only briefly referred
to. The data collection
technique(s) are referred to but not justified. There is no real attempt to
identify and justify the appropriate
techniques of analysis. The methodology is very general and lacks detail and focus.

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION (40%) The analysis is clearly issue driven accurately reflecting and testing the stated hypotheses/research questions. The discussion is clear and concise and demonstrates
excellent ability to relate the research findings back to those of the previous studies discussed in the literature review. The analysis is issue driven and appropriate tests of the hypotheses/research questions are undertaken. The discussion is clear and concise and demonstrates very good ability to relate the research findings back to those of the previous studies. The analysis is issue driven with a reasonably good attempt to apply appropriate tests to the hypotheses/research questions. The discussion demonstrates reasonably good ability to relate the
research findings back to those of the previous studies. There is some attempt to relate the analysis
to the key issues
stated in the hypotheses/research questions. However, there is a tendency to rely on more descriptive analysis and consequently there is a general lack of rigour.
The discussion demonstrates some ability to relate the findings of the research to those of previous studies but tends to be limited in places. There is a limited attempt to relate the analysis to the key issues. However, the analysis tends to be basically descriptive with the results being reported rather than evaluated. The discussion makes limited reference to the findings of previous studies. There is a poor attempt to relate the analysis to the issues. Consequently, the analysis lacks focus and contains errors or is unjustified. There is very little attempt to relate any findings to those of previous studies.
CONCLUSIONS (10%) The conclusions provide an excellent summary of the key findings clearly within the context of the issues and objectives driving the research. The conclusions provide a very good summary of the key findings clearly within the context of the issues/objectives driving the research. The conclusions provide a reasonably good summary of the key findings within the context of the key issues. The conclusions provide a rather broad summary of the key findings within the context of the key issues. There is limited attempt to summarise the key findings and these tend to lack focus. There is a poor attempt to summarise the key findings.
NOTES: The grid describes typical combinations of criteria at each grade point. The actual feedback may vary and the marker may highlight
sections from different grade descriptions to reflect this as appropriate and award a mark to reflect the selected descriptors. Additional supporting feedback is given in more detailed typed feedback for each of the assessment area. Additional penalties in the marking scheme are applied as follows: (i) 10 percentage points deducted for non-conformance with the word count requirements (ii) 10 percentage points deducted for non-submission of a Turnitin Report.

APPENDIX B – BS4203 Module Performance Descriptor
The module is assessed as follows:
C1 – Thesis – 100% weighting

Grade Explanation of basis of combination
A At least 70%
B At least 60%
C At least 50%
D At least 40%
E At least 35%
F Less than 35%
NS Non submission

Module Pass Mark = Grade D (40%)



Theory of the Firm: An Analysis and Evaluation of Top Scottish Companies Goals and Objectives



Brian A. Lawrence

A thesis submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for the award of (enter title of course here)

[Word Count]



The abstract provides the Examination Board, employer, Aberdeen Business School staff and students with a concise standalone review or précis of the thesis. It should summarise each chapter of the thesis. A measure of its success would be the extent to which the reader could understand the whole process involved in the preparation of the thesis and the main findings emanating from the final document. It should not exceed one page in length.


The author wishes to express thanks to all those who have assisted and advised during this project, with particular mention of:-

Jean Sutherland Some on shore
Managing Director Servicing Co. Ltd

Elizabeth Gammie Some on Shore
Company Accountant Servicing Co. Ltd

Manager and Staff of the Costing Department

Professor Charlie Weir Robert Gordon University
Thesis Supervisor Aberdeen Business School


Abstract i Acknowledgements ii Glossary of Terms iii Contents v List of Tables vii List of Figures ix


1.1 Research Problem 2
1.2 The Organisational Context 3
1.3 Aim and Objectives 4
1.4 Rationale 5
1.5 Structure of the Thesis 7







Appendix A – Company Organisation Chart
Appendix B – Sales Turnover 1985/7



1.1. Types of job as percentage of total workforce 12

1.2. Percentage of workers leaving for reasons given 12


1.1. Histogram of numbers employed by firm by year 14

1.2. Graph of length service and age on entry 15

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