The future of the Master's dissertation: How authentic, relevant, fair and inclusive is the traditional dissertation for business school students?

Thursday 3 November, University of the West of England (in-person)

The Higher Education sector has seen healthy growth in postgraduate taught students and a changing demographic with home and international students from increasingly diverse backgrounds. However, many students struggle to acclimatise and have a steep learning curve with one-year masters programmes.

Coming from different academic and cultural backgrounds, a growing number of students are unused to writing in academic English and are disadvantaged when faced with a significant piece of independent, self-directed work such as a dissertation. Simultaneously, the essay mill business has become better organised, and universities are seeing an increase in assessment offences.

This practical workshop will explore how alternatives to the traditional dissertation can give students a more personalised learning journey and support student progression, attainment and outcomes.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the workshop participants will have:

  • A deeper understanding of the relative merits and the accessibility/inclusivity of current forms of capstone projects for postgraduate (PG) business school students
  • Evaluated the appropriateness of the traditional masters dissertation in fulfilling these aims, and have a greater awareness of the strengths and limitations of using dissertations
  • New ideas about the alternative formats that can be used to replace the traditional dissertation; and an awareness of the resource and staff development implications of these alternatives
  • A co-created 'map' of alternative dissertation options for Business PG students that covers the positives and negatives of each approach, that they can use to inform teaching practice in their own institution.

About CMBE Events

Our series of CMBE Events are open to all educators. They have been designed with CMBEs in mind, to support them achieve their professional development goals. By attending this event, CMBEs can claim up to 6 units (hours) towards their annual CPD commitment.

Workshop Facilitators

Dr Christine Comrie
Deputy Head of Department - Business and Management (Postgraduate), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Dr Ed Little
Associate Head of Department (Postgraduate Marketing and Events Programmes), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Dr Cathy Minett-Smith
Associate Dean, Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Pre-event preparation

Workshop participants will be contacted a week or so before the event to ask if they are able/willing to send postgraduate dissertation module specifications and module handbooks from their own Institution in advance of the workshop to inform preparation for the introductory session.

 

09:30    Registration and refreshments

 

10:00    Welcome and setting the context

Exploring the aims of the dissertation; Why is it there? Purpose of the dissertation, common themes in aims/role based on review of any materials sent prior to workshop

Cathy Minett-Smith, Associate Dean, Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

 

10:45    Breakout groups

In these group discussions we will explore the pros and cons of the current `academic’ dissertation.

Dr Christine Comrie, Deputy Head of Department - Business and Management (Postgraduate), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Dr Ed Little, Associate Head of Department (Postgraduate Marketing and Events Programmes), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Dr Cathy Minett-Smith, Associate Dean, Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

 

11:15    Break

 

11:30    Feedback session

Led by the facilitators

 

12:00   Breakout groups: Exploring alternatives to the traditional dissertation

Led by the facilitators

 

13:00   Lunch

 

14:00   Summary of ideas explored during the breakout discussions

Led by the facilitators

 

14:30    Breakout groups

Exploring the challenges, resources and development needs of the various alternatives.

 

15.00    Feedback and wrap-up by

Led by the facilitators

 

15:30   Close

Dr Christine Comrie
Deputy Head of Department - Business and Management (Postgraduate), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

As Deputy Head of Department (Business and Management, postgraduate) at the University of the West of England, I am responsible for the quality and currency of our postgraduate programme portfolio. 

Before working at UWE as an academic, I was a Marketing Manager at Unilever (global fast moving consumer goods company) for 15 years and was fortunate enough to travel extensively in the Middle East, Africa and South America.

I joined UWE as an educator in 1998 on a part-time basis alongside bringing up three children and carrying out some consultancy work and took up a full-time position at UWE in 2012.  My previous roles at UWE involved working with overseas partner organisations and developing support mechanisms for our international students studying in the UK.   On joining UWE full time,  I gained a PG Cert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and became a fellow of the HEA and in 2021 achieved my doctorate within the school of Education. I have taught undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD modules and my specialism is global marketing which I find fascinating given the VUCA environment in which global marketers must operate.

Dr Ed Little
Associate Head of Department (Postgraduate Marketing and Events Programmes), Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

Dr Cathy Minett-Smith
Associate Dean, Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Faculty of Business and Law, University of the West of England

This workshop takes place at the University of the West of England. Further logistical information will be available in due course.

University of the West of England
Frenchay Campus
Coldharbour Lane
Bristol
BS16 1QY

Certified Management & Business Educators (CMBE): £185

Educators from UK business schools that don't hold the CMBE: £235

Group Booking Discount: Bring colleagues and save 25% on each additional place. Contact the Chartered ABS for further details enquiries@charteredabs.org

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About the CMBE

The CMBE gives business and management educators a recognised professional designation and a framework for continuous professional development. The scheme supports educators to further develop their teaching practice and helps to advance the quality of business and management education in higher education.

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If you're a CMBE, you can claim 3.5 hours (units) towards your CPD commitment by attending this event.

Find out more about meeting your CPD commitment here, and view the CPD activities table here.

Enquiries

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