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BUSN617 Research Methods

Teaching organisation

3 hours per week for 12 weeks or equivalent in intensive mode or online.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Business consulting is one of the major career directions taken by graduates in business, in particular at the postgraduate level. However, in order to be an effective and ethical consultant, there are key skills related to stewardship and trust that individuals must develop in addition to their specific disciplinary expertise. This unit is included in the MBA as a vehicle for students to develop the generic knowledge and skills to undertake project-based consultancy work in a local, national and global context. The unit provides an overview of the consulting industry, its characteristics and the skills required to thrive in consulting. Students are provided with the opportunity to develop these skills in a practical and applied way through undertaking a specific business consulting opportunity with a real client from the for profit, not for profit or government sector. The aim of the unit is for students to experience a consultancy project and appreciate the difference between the demands of work based on broad ranging organisational projects in contrast to a single discipline-based career track.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Critically analyse the nature and characteristics of consulting and the role of a consultants in resolving organisational issues in a local, national and global context  (GA5, GA6) 

LO2 - Research, analyse, evaluate and propose practical and responsible business options given the project constraints in consulting work (GA5, GA8) 

LO3 - Distinguish key liability, governance and ethical issues involved in consultancy work (GA3, GA5) 

LO4 - Think critically and reflectively using stewardship, trust and knowledge developed in this unit when addressing specific issues-based business project (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Evaluate and apply key attributes sought by companies in the engagement of management consultants including interpersonal skills, time management, commercial awareness, initiative within ambiguity, independent learning and team collaboration skills, and effectively communicate the outcomes to stakeholders (GA5, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • Overview of management consultancy and ethical conduct
  • The Client Perspective, trust and Sustainable Relationships
  • Fundamentals of project management
  • Fundamentals of change management
  • Research and synthesise complex business data
  • Problem diagnosis and solution development
  • Applied teamwork and group dynamics
  • Time management
  • Objective setting
  • Stewardship principles and consultancy management
  • Consulting Management Tools - consulting briefs, client proposals, contracts and report writing

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is an advanced applied unit in the MBA. The purpose of the unit is to provide students with the opportunity to work on a real-life consultancy project. An active learning and experiential approach is applied in this unit and students will engage in small group and project based learning. Students will learn the fundamentals of the consulting industry including key small team management skills however the primary focus of the unit is on the consulting project which applies these concepts in practice. 

Students will attend a number of seminars and access relevant materials online. Small group learning will be applied where students meet regularly with the academic staff for advice and progress reports.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment for this unit is primarily applied and experiential. Students will develop a broad understanding of the consulting industry before using this knowledge, combined with prior skills developed in specific disciplines, to solve a real-world business problem. There are two key areas of focus in the assessment: the synthesis and analysis of information to ethical problem-solving skills and effective communication of complex problems and potential solutions to these problems through the use of advanced verbal and written skills. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 :Concept paper:

This task consists of a 1000- word written concept paper. This task requires students to demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of consulting in a specific industry or profession in national and international context. Students will be required to cover material from the first four weeks of the course and draw upon key concepts to differentiate the role of a management consultant in an organisational context. This assessment helps students examine the skills, knowledge and approach required by management consultants to create organisational value and build sustainable client relationships.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Concept Paper

Artefact: Written essay



GA5, GA6 

Assessment Task 2: Verbal presentation

This task consists of a 15 minute verbal presentation. This task requires students to demonstrate analysis and synthesis of complex information and communicate this effectively verbally. Students will be required to identify an organisational problem either in their current workplace, or a nominated organisation and develop a client consulting proposal, which is to be presented in class. The purpose of this task is to provide students with practical experience in scoping client needs and developing a client consulting proposal, by critically evaluating client needs and deliverables, applying ethical considerations and build a trust relationship. The emphasis is on students being able to apply professional written and verbal communication to articulate their ideas and positively influence clients and key stakeholders.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Presentation (verbal)

Artefact: PowerPoint Slides


LO3, LO5 

GA3, GA5, GA9 

Assessment Task 3: Written report

This task consists of a 2000 word written report. This task requires students to demonstrate effective application of disciplinary knowledge to solve a specific business issue and effective written communication. Students will be required to use the business problem from Assessment 2 and prioritise the issues, conduct analysis, synthesise their findings and develop ethical and impactful client recommendations. Students will be able to contextualise their recommendations based on the organisation’s operating context of local, national or global. This assessment provides students with the practical experience of applying appropriate management consulting frameworks to solve for an organisational problem in an innovative and practical collaborative way, within the parameters of the agreed client engagement proposal.

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Report

Artefact: Written report 


LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Baaij, M.G., 2014 An Introduction to Management Consultancy, Sage. 

Fried, J. and Hansson, D. 2015. Remote: Office Not Required. Crown Business. 

Hattori, Shu. 2015 The McKinsey Edge: Strategies from the World’s Most Successful Consulting Firm. McGraw-Hill. 

Miller, K. 2015 The Oracle Way to Consulting. McGraw-Hill. 

Newton, R. 2019 The Management Consultant: Mastering the Art of Consultancy. 2nd Edition. Pearson Education UK

Stroh, LK.. 2019 The Basic Principles of Effective Consulting, 2nd Edition. 

Weiss, A. 2016 Million Dollar Consulting 5th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education. 

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