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Unit information: Research Design and Qualitative Research Methods in A&F in 2016/17

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Unit name Research Design and Qualitative Research Methods in A&F
Unit code EFIMM0032
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Chris Chapman
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Accounting and Finance
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit begins by introducing the different qualitative research methodologies and methods commonly used in the accounting and finance academic literature. In so doing, it considers the philosophical and ethical issues in qualitative research. Furthermore, the unit considers how qualitative methods can address specific accounting and finance research questions. Building on these foundations this unit considers appropriate ways in which the academic rigour of qualitative research may be judged, as well as how it may inform policy and practice.

This unit aims to introduce the knowledge and skills required for the undertaking of qualitative research in accounting and finance, including philosophical, practical and ethical issues. It also aims to introduce qualitative research methods and discusses techniques for analysing and drawing sound inferences from qualitative research.

Intended learning outcomes

Having successfully completed this unit students should be able to:

  • Describe and explain different qualitative research methodologies and methods;
  • Understand the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research methods;
  • Understand how qualitative methods can address specific research questions within accounting and finance;
  • Develop a critical understanding of qualitative methods used in accounting and finance;
  • Develop practical skills in undertaking qualitative research;
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of ethical issues in qualitative research.

Teaching details

25 contact hours split between lectures and tutorials (typically 20 hours lectures, 5 hours of tutorials).

Assessment Details

The unit will be assessed through an individual 4,000 word research proposal. Students will be required to write a proposal for the undertaking of an interpretive research study on an accounting or finance topic of their choice. The report will include an outline of the proposed research topic and its empirical context, the main elements of the fieldwork strategy and a discussion of its challenges, ethical issues and limitations.

This assessment will require students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of research design and qualitative research methods. It will test student’s ability to find, access, critique and discuss academic literature and other relevant sources of information. Students will be required to learn independently, think critically and communicate their research proposal effectively.

Reading and References

Golden-Biddle, K., & Locke, K. (2007). Composing Qualitative Research: Sage Publications (2nd ed).

Chapman, C.S. (2012) Framing the Issue of Research Quality in a Context of Research Diversity, Accounting Horizons, 26(4), 821-831

Ahrens, T., & Chapman, C. S. (2006) Doing Qualitative Accounting Research: Positioning Data to Contribute to Theory. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 31(8), 819-841

Humphrey, C. and Lee, B. (2004) The real life guide to accounting research: A behind-the-scenes view of using qualitative research methods, Elsevier.