Case studies are written summaries of real-life business situations based on data and research, which provide a picture of what has happened to an individual or company over a period. They can include events such as organizational change, strategy decisions, and external factors and influences. Case studies allow students to appreciate and analyze real problems and events faced by people in business, as well as illustrate the theory studied in class.
When preparing for an exam case study, it’s important to read the case study thoroughly and think about the project management aspects, the issues that arise, and potential questions that may be asked. It’s recommended to start a thread on the exam forum to discuss your ideas and answers with other students.
Typical question types in case studies include problem analysis, evaluation and opinion, decision criteria, make a decision, and role play. For each question type, it’s important to consider both sides of the argument, provide evidence from the case study, and demonstrate your ability to analyze, synthesize, and apply your learning from the course to the case.
Case study questions are not like calculation type questions seeking a right or wrong answer, but rather score well based on the quality of the argument provided. The examiner is looking for evidence of your ability to apply your knowledge of project management concepts and theories to a real-life project situation.
MSIN0068: Case Study Tips
What are Case Studies?
Case studies are written summaries of real-life business situations based upon data
and research. In reading a case study a picture of what has happened to an individual
or company over a period can be gained.
These could include events such as organisational change and strategy decisions
within an organisation as well as outside factors and influences. A case study can be
a shortened, second-hand version of a real-life situation (e.g., a project). It enables
students to appreciate and analyse real problems and events faced by people in
business. Case studies are also used to illustrate theory studied in class and allow
that theory to be applied.
A case requires active reading. Unlike a textbook which presents facts and
explanations, cases give facts and information – but generally not the explanations.
That’s what the coursework / exam questions ask you for.
Preparing the exam case study
Read the case study, get to know it well.
Think about what the case is about and the project management aspects.
What project management issues arise?
What questions might be asked about it (prepare some answers).
But be flexible. Answer the question asked, which may not be the same as the
answer you have prepared, although your prepared answer may help you to
compose your answer in the exam.
As part of your revision, we recommend you start a thread on the exam forum to
discuss your ideas and answers with other students.
Case study questions
The case study is for you to demonstrate how you can apply your knowledge of
project management concepts and theories to a real-life project situation. It is meant
to be applied the given scenario, and not a memory dump of lecture notes.
MSIN0068: Case Study Tips
Typical question types:
e.g. Why did (the problem) happen? What was the root cause of the problem?
• Here you should develop a reasoned argument and back your ideas up
with evidence / events from the case study.
• Sometimes this question might also ask you for a recommendation, or
what should have been done differently. Pat attention to the wording of
Evaluation and opinion
In your opinion…do you agree….?
• For this type of question, demonstrate that you have considered both
sides of the argument (pros and cons) before concluding. Don’t just give
the arguments that support your view, consider the counter ones.
What are the pros and cons of…. advantages and disadvantages
• Like the previous one (opinion), but without providing an opinion. This
type of question is usually asking you to identify factors that should be
considered before deciding, or the benefits / risks etc. of a particular
course of action.
• An example of this is how we evaluated the proposals in the Inchworm
case study in class.
Make a decision
What would you recommend…. why?
• As for the opinion question, show that you have considered both the
benefits and risks of a course of action before making a recommendation.
• There will never be a perfect right / wrong solution, it’s the quality of the
argument and thought supporting the recommendation that gains marks.
MSIN0068: Case Study Tips
Imagine you are…. [someone in the case study] ….what would you do? What would
you do differently? With the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done
• For this type of question, put yourself in the shoes of the person you have
been asked to role play.
• For example, if it’s the project manager – then provide an answer the
takes account of the constraints that the PM faces (e.g., often lack of
power over other people, for example).
• Don’t just provide the consultant’s answer, e.g., “the organisation should
do this….”. unless you have been asked to role play a consultant.
Case study questions are not like calculation type questions which seek a right /
wrong answer. Of course, there are some PM aspects that we hope you will pick up
on, but it’s how you use them and the quality of the argument you provide that
The examiner is looking for evidence of your ability to analyse, synthesise and apply
your learning from the course to the case.