Assignment Aim

It should be shaped by the critical and reflective knowledge gained through your study of the module and demonstrate that you have achieved an understanding of the concepts within the context of your role in your own organization or an organization with which you are familiar.

This will be achieved by drawing on the relevant range of topics studied during the module, and by applying knowledge, understanding, application, relevance and intellectual ability to your chosen module topic.

Assignment Brief

Work-based assignment (3500-4000 words):

You are required to write a report which critically evaluates the application of an aspect of theory presented in this module within your organization or an organization with which you are familiar.

Reflective Statement (1000 – 1500 words)

You are required to write a reflection of your learning from the module, which will identify the significance of the module to the individual’s personal and professional development; its significance to their current and future roles/careers and if appropriate its significance to your organisation. The Reflective Statement should include areas for further development, where these have been identified.

Assessment Guidance

The assessment of your work will look at whether you can demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes for the module and in accordance with the grade criteria are listed in section 5 of the student handbook.


The main criteria for assessment are:

Work-based assignment

Demonstrate systematic and critical understanding of the functional disciplines, techniques and concepts used in the planning measurement, monitoring, controlling and forecasting of financial activities and performance

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the nature and significance of financial systems within a changing environment.

Critically apply knowledge appropriately in order to analyse problematic situations and identify how organisations can improve the performance of their financial management processes as well as plan more effectively.

Produce a project, which meets both the academic criteria for postgraduate study and the expectations of employers.

Reflective Statement

Demonstrate effective working as a member of a learning group of professionals and contribution to the professional and personal development of others as well as an ability to learn from reflection.


Assignment Advice

In choosing a piece of work for your assignment, you are recommended to pay attention to the following criteria as emphasis is placed on these as part of the assessment:

Is it of a manageable size for a detailed analysis (neither too big nor too small)?

Is it accessible for study e.g. do you need to obtain permission before you can start?

Does it have a well-defined focus?

Does it have clear and well-defined boundaries?

Is it significant and important e.g. to you or somebody else?

Can you as a manager and/or your organization learn from this assignment?

If these criteria cannot be met within your own organization, you may select a topic from somewhere else to study for your assignment. However, it is recommended that you discuss this with your module tutor first.

Remember that the award of Master’s level credits will seek to assess your critical understanding of the links between academic principles and their practical application in your professional environments.

An assignment will fail if you have not demonstrated that you have achieved the module learning outcomes and/or that the format for your chosen piece of work is not adhering to the assessment criteria mentioned above.

An assignment will tend to fail if the chosen topic is not consistently defined throughout and the reasons for this is not explained, if the conclusions are not supported by the findings, if you cannot demonstrate that you have a useful knowledge of your chosen topic and if there is no or only little evidence of critical thinking and reflection of academic theories and concepts.

Some useful self-test questions:

Does the work demonstrate your ability to select, reflect upon and critically evaluate an appropriate range of academic material covered by the module curriculum?

Does the work provide a useful analysis of your chosen topic? Reproducing lectures and textbooks un-critically will not be considered appropriate for a Master’s level course.

Does the work make useful and feasible recommendations taking into account the specific circumstances of the chosen topic area?

Does the work demonstrate application and relevance in the professional workplace environment?

Assignment format

The main text of your assignment should be of approximately 3500-4000 words and must be typed or word-processed. Other relevant documents and material should be presented as Appendices. Word lengths will be strictly adhered to. Work exceeding the word length with more than 10% will not be marked. Other relevant documents and material should be presented as Appendices.

Managing your Project

Identifying your Topic

Reflect on your current or previous work situation and identify a management issue, which you and/or your organization might benefit from you exploring further. It can be a project you have been asked to carry out at work, or it can be a situation, which was difficult to handle or it can be a change in the services which you are providing. If you are in doubt about which topic to choose, discuss the various possibilities with your respective module tutors.

Finding a Focus

Once you have identified an area of work you need to ask yourself: “What do I as a manager need to learn from this situation?”  Your approach will be as individual as you are, however generally students tend to undertake one of three approaches;

Perhaps you can identify a specific problem which you need to address in your management practice, e.g., you have just been given a new budget to manage and have some concerns about the impact of it.

Or perhaps you find it more difficult to identify a clear problem, but you are aware of a number of issues concerning management of resources that you would like to explore.

At this stage in producing the work-based assignment it is possible to become very frustrated.  It is important to remember that this is the most difficult part of the learning process and one in which you need to allow yourself time to discuss with your tutors, fellow students, colleagues, line manager etc., and to reflect and focus on your learning needs.

Researching your Focus

This involves two activities: reading and active research.


Your chosen focus should direct your reading.  The modules and tutorials provide a forum for you to explore areas of knowledge/practice in a practical way.  Theories, models, academic ideas which you think are useful to you should be recorded, in particular keeping notes on how they are useful to you (perhaps they helped you to think about a management issue in a new way?) and how you might use them.


From the theories, models and academic ideas you have gathered it is now time to apply them to your work setting.  You may choose any of the accounting theories that you think are appropriate for you e.g. activity based costing or investment appraisal.

At this stage in the learning process you are trying to use academic knowledge to make sense of a situation which you are required to manage.

Recording and analyzing your findings

Now you are interested in exploring what you have found as the result of your reading and research activity.


The facts need to be established e.g. resource availability or resource requirements.


Your data must then be analyzed using the concepts that you have selected as appropriate.

Writing your Work Based Assignment

It is important to think about the structure as well as the content of your assignment.  You need to remember that the readers (academics, line managers) need to read what you want to tell them and not everything ‘you know’ about a particular area of study.  Therefore you should approach your writing in a focused way.  The following example provides a useful template for anyone who is unsure about what an assignment might look like.

The structure should include:


A short summary of the assignment, which includes your chosen focus, what you have attempted to do and your findings/analysis and recommendations.  As this is a distilled synthesis of your work it is often useful to complete this part of the writing until the end. 


This should include details of what you set out to do, how, why, and what you needed to learn.  In addition some brief explanation regarding the format of the assignment is also required.


Here you set the scene by providing an overview of the topic area including you learning needs and your reading.


Here you detail your research approach and what you did.


These must be presented clearly.  Where there are lengthy findings these may be attached to the assignment as an appendix and a summary placed in the main body of the assignment.

Analysis and conclusions

Here you need to reflect on your findings in light of your management practice.  In addition there may be lessons which the organization needs to learn from your work.


These need to emerge naturally from the body of your assignment.  They should be attainable and realistic.  They should provide a framework for future work for you or the organization.

Other things you might need to know

Writing an assignment requires an understanding of the expectations readers have of you. Here are some additional points that you may need to consider;

Work should be well presented – no spelling mistakes, use of poor grammar etc.  If you build in editing time into the writing process you will ensure that your assignment is presented appropriately.

Referencing of sources should be clear (please see appendix B on referencing if you are unsure as to how to reference your work).

Anecdotal stories or practice bias should not be presented in your assignment as ‘evidence’ as they are not acceptable.  Whilst your experience and views are important you must remember that your management practice should be based on objective, impartial evidence.


The object of the exercise, writing a work-based management assignment, should not be a futile exercise.  The experience and learning you gain whilst undertaking completion of the assignment should provide valuable, enabling and transferable learning.  If you get stuck or have a mental block contact your tutor, line manager in supervision or your peers and get support by talking about what you are trying to achieve.  Above all remember that the Programme has been designed to be the beginning of an ongoing critical, reflective, learning approach to practice and therefore the learning does not stop when the Programme is over.

Notes on Referencing Your Work

Within the body of the report

Referencing is important in its own right.  A management assignment or academic essay needs to demonstrate its validity by giving the sources of the ideas, concepts and data used in the work.  A precise reference that enables the reader to locate the material referred to is exactly the hallmark of good quality work.  References within your assignment should be made using the author’s surname, followed by the date of the publication, e.g., Douglas (1994) or (Mercer et al, 1997) or Mickey and Mouse, 1998a).  The positioning of the brackets depends upon the wording in the text.  The suffixes a, b, c, etc.) are added to differentiate between publications by the same author(s) in the same year.  You should include books (and pamphlets and journals etc.) that you have consulted, as well as those directly referenced in a bibliography at the end of the assignment.


The following constitutes good practice: the bibliography should be a single list in alphabetical order by author, where the format for each entry is as follows,

Books  Author, (date of publication), Title, Edition (if not first), Publisher e.g., Mazur, L & Hogg, A, (1993). The Marketing Challenge. Adison-Wesley.

Journals Author (date of publication) Title. Journal. Volume: Pages (beginning and ending) e.g., Rothwell, R and Gardiner, P (1989), The Strategic Management of reinnovation.  R & D Management, 19, 2:19 – 29

Internet Publications Material published on the World Wide Web will often be available in print, in which case the normal reference format can be applied.  Ensure that the full source of the document is provided in each case e.g., Software Engineering Institute (1993), The capability maturity model for software CMU/SEI/

The best way to avoid any risk of plagiarism is to reference all the important ideas and facts you have read in your work (please see the student handbook for information on plagiarism).

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