Research design

The project was organised into several strands:

Interviews with graduates from each of the four programmes, who have achieved either a Masters (meaning they have completed the dissertation) or a Postgraduate Diploma (as a result of embarking on, but not completing, the dissertation). The interviews were aimed at understanding how participants experienced the dissertation process; what success meant to them, and the extent to which they achieved it; and what factors influenced their experience of doing a dissertation at a distance.

Review of programme documentation and practices in relation to the dissertation. This involved looking at programme, dissertation and research methods course handbooks, supervisor matching processes, programme-based support for dissertation students, and administrative practices that accompany the dissertation. A written ‘snapshot’ of each programme’s practice was produced, and used to contextualise the interview data .

Workshops with supervisors from each programme. The aim was to get an overview of different supervisory practices, discuss the issues that emerge for supervisors working at a distance, and ask supervisors to reflect on the anonymised interview data and snapshots of their own programme’s practice. A report was generated from each, and fed back to the programme teams, as well as informing the project report and dissemination and impact activities.

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