Dear Steven

I supervise two MSc dissertations on two different courses and encounter simialr problems on both.  One has the selection of topic in January with a short literature study to produce a research proposal (summatively assessed) in April and commencement on the study proper in June.  The other has selection of topics in October with some preparatory work leading to a research proposal in April and the main contribution starting in June.  The main differences are in how much contribution the dissertation makes to the final martk (one half or one third) and the nature of the dissertation.  In the second instance students are allowed to elect for a critical review of the literature and not to collect primary data, in the second some primary data must be collected.  My experience is that three months is not sufficient to design survey instruments, pilot them, conduct the survey, conduct follow-ups, analyse the data and draw conclusions - this is more a question of elapsed time (particulalry over the Summer when target interviewees may be on vacation) rather than effort.  Despite Research Methods modules, most students are not mentally prepared for the dissertation, particularly if they have come striaight form a conventional undergraduate course.  This is why Masters degrees were originally set at 2 years, thogh cost considerations have forced us to consolidate it into one.

One experiment with which I was involved was in Finland featured a one-week interdisciplinary Summer School, where students from a number of courses elected to come together and work on problems in inter-disciplianry groups.  This was fairly intensive but prompted the students to 'think outside the box' and helped them to start to develop their research skills.  Attempts to introduce the idea back in the UK have fallen foul of the objection that this would give some students an advantage over others!

C Bland Tomkinson BSc BA MEd PFHEA FAUA
Visiting Lecturer, University of Manchester
Special Consultant, South East University, Nanjing
Associate Editor, HERD
Co-Editor, IETI

Trustee, International Tree Foundation

----Original message----
From : [log in to unmask]
Date : 22/05/2017 - 07:28 (GMTST)
To : [log in to unmask]
Subject : master thesis in one-year programs

Dear all,


We notice that students following a one-year master program (60 ECTS) have difficulties finishing their master thesis in time, taking into account that it has to be of a sufficiently high academic level. Our programs try to cope with this problem by for example accelerating the choosing of a master thesis subject. This allows students to immediately start working at their master thesis from the first weeks of the academic year on.


We are now looking for alternative solutions to make it possible for students to deliver a decent master thesis on time (i.e. within the scope of a one-year master program). Has anyone addressed this issue at their institution, experienced with alternative forms for the master thesis to cope with this problem and/or encountered any literature on the topic that might give inspiration?


Many thanks in advance.

Steven Huyghe



Steven Huyghe, Ph.D.

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