Researching People and Organisations summative essay brief and guidance

Assessment weighting

Summative 60% of module marks    

Due Date

Thursday 4th February 2021, 11pm (2300 hours)

Assessment brief

The assessment for RPO is to produce an individual thematic research review of 2,500 words in which you investigate the literature for one of the module lecture topics in depth and identify suggestions for future research in that area.


The review should be written in an essay style – but note that it has a specific format. Rather than writing ‘everything I know’ about a topic, you will choose a specific focus within that topic and develop that focus to highlight how further research into the topic could take place.

The research review should contain the following elements (with word counts given for guidance):

A title which reflects the focus of your research review – this does not count towards your word count

An introduction where you briefly outline your choice of topic and the structure of the review which follows. You should use the Area-Focus-Aspect model to show how your topic will develop throughout the review towards your specific research question. (Approx 250 words)

A thematic literature review in which you provide a thematic analysis of the literature relating to your topic. You should aim to include at least 20 sources which should provide a balanced blend between high quality academic sources (such as peer-reviewed journals and books) and other sources of information (such as industry reports, news articles and  secondary sources).  You should pick out three or four key themes within the literature which are relevant to the development of your topic. Stronger pieces of work will identify the key debates and gaps within the literature and use these as a means of focussing the review (Approx 1750 words).

A conclusion, which draws together the main points from your review and identifies potential areas for further research in that topic area (approx. 500 words).

A reference list using Harvard-style which lists all references cited in the review (no more and no less). This will not count towards your word limit.

Guide to word count

The 2,500 word limit is a maximum. You should count from the first word of your introduction to the final word of your conclusion for your word count. The cover sheet, the title of your essay, the reference list will not count towards your word-limit, however references and quotes within the main body of the essay do count.

The purpose of the word count is to: support your writing development by encouraging a focus on clarity and conciseness; provide experience of writing to a specified word limit and which is common practice in professional and research environments; support equity in grading work from different individuals. 

You are required to include the word count as an accurate statement of the words used on the NBS Coursework Front Cover for all your coursework. If you are found to have exceeded the word count in order to gain an unfair advantage, then your tutor can adjust your grade downwards depending on the amount of additional work submitted. 

  • If the additional work is up to 500 words, the overall grade for the piece of work will be reduced by 1 grade point (e.g. 2.1-Mid to 2.1-Low); 
  • If the additional work exceeds 500 words, the overall grade for the piece of work will be reduced by 3 grade points (e.g. 2.1-Mid to 2.2-Mid).
  • These penalties will be applied even if the reduced grade is below a pass grade.

You are advised to submit work that is as close to the maximum word count as is practical to enable you to demonstrate that you have met all the learning outcomes.  

Submitting your work

You must submit assignments on or before the due date indicated by the module leader.

All coursework is to be submitted electronically in NOW using the Dropbox facility within each of your module learning rooms.

Your work should be submitted with the appropriate NBS coursework cover sheet. There is NO requirement to submit a paper copy. Please submit written work in PDF or Word format – your tutor may be unable to read any other format.

For each assignment you will be provided with a separate folder within your learning room Dropbox. When you make a submission to a Dropbox folder you will receive notification within NOW of your submission and also an email.  

Please ensure you keep these emails. You should plan to submit with sufficient time to account for circumstances that are within your control. These include IT issues, holidays and travel. Technical problems are rare but should you be prevented from submitting and miss the deadline due to such circumstances, then you should submit your coursework as soon as you are able and email a description of the problem to your tutor (if possible include a screenshot of the issue).

To help you manage your submissions within NOW you can enable a Dropbox instant notification to alert you to when the Dropbox folder end date is 48 hours away (in NOW select Preferences and tick the relevant check box). 

Academic Writing – Use of Turnitin

An important element of your academic writing development is the citing, referencing and paraphrasing of other people’s work for inclusion in your own documents. To support you in this, NTU’s Library and Learning Resources maintain up-to-date self-development materials for Writing, Referencing, and Copyright and Plagiarism (you can access these from your home page in NOW by clicking on Help and opening the Student Learning Room).

If you are unsure about how to cite, reference and paraphrase appropriately, you are advised to review the materials provided in the Student Learning Room, and in particular the following:

  • Referencing
    • Citing References: a guide to NTU Library Harvard style
  • Copyright and Plagiarism
    • Original thinking allowed: avoiding plagiarism tutorial
  • Writing
    • How to effectively integrate sources into your writing

Within the Copyright and Plagiarism section of the Student Learning Room you will also find information about Turnitin. Turnitin UK is an online service hosted at that when enabled for a learning room Dropbox allows for work you submit to be compared against electronic sources including work submitted by students at NTU and other Universities and materials published to the internet. One of the aims of Turnitin is to help staff identify plagiarism and deter students from committing plagiarism. For this reason, all your summative coursework will normally be submitted to Turnitin and an Originality Report generated for review by your tutor.

Access to Turnitin is also provided to support you in developing your academic writing. Your Module Learning Room will have a folder available in the Dropbox to allow you a single submission of a draft of your coursework, and for which you will be provided with access to the originality report. By reviewing the report, you will be able to self-assess the quality of your citing, referencing and paraphrasing and be able to complete this in advance of submitting your first coursework assignment.

Marking criteria

The marking criteria for this essay are provided on a separate marking grid.

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