Dissertation Supervision Policy

The dissertation is worth one third of the total credits earned for a Masters program. For Advanced Standing students the dissertation may account for more than half of the credits obtained while at the university. It is therefore essential that rigorous quality control is instituted from beginning to end of the dissertation process. This in fact begins with the induction of a new student into the FUF culture, until completion and submission of the dissertation, available to the wider FUF community.

Dissertation Culture

It must be made clear to students who join FUF that we take the dissertation writing process very seriously. Students should know from the outset what is required, what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and what support they can expect. This information must be made available to students during their first induction meeting at FUF. It should be reiterated while preparing their proposals and while under supervision in writing the dissertation.

  1. The induction meeting must include an introduction to:
    • the proposal and dissertation writing process, with details of sections, word counts, time scales structure, etc.,
    • the ethics of dissertation writing, referencing and citing other peoples’ work, unfair practice and plagiarism,
    • the role of supervisors and what students should expect from them. Finally, examples of good past dissertations should be available for students to view.
  2. Students should be presented with the student handbook upon enrolment, which must contain similar information as above.
  3. The website should provide students and prospective students with access to the student handbook, as well as guidelines on standard practices to avoid unfair practice, referencing and ethics.
  4. All students must attend the Research Methods module and their attendance record will be taken into consideration when accepting their dissertation proposal.
  5. The university will advise students to seek help from an approved list of professional proof readers, being careful that no content is changed so as to become plagiarized. They should indicate clearly where such a service has been used. Proof readers can help improve English quality, so that students need not feel tempted to copy and paste other people’s work due to them being conscious of their own language shortcomings.

Research Methods and Proposal Writing

All students must the Research Methods module and their attendance record will be taken into consideration when accepting their dissertation proposal.

This module will cover in detail the topics introduced at the induction. Here students will learn the details of what is expected of a dissertation and a dissertation proposal. They will submit a draft proposal for formal assessment, and then receive feedback from the tutor.

Supervision

All students will have been guided through writing the dissertation proposal, then after their marks for part one of the Masters program have been confirmed at an Examining Board meeting, a supervisor will be assigned to them to guide them through the dissertation writing process.

  1. The Program Director (and not anyone else) will appoint and vet all new supervisors. There will be a face-to-face interview and a review of their supervision experience.
  2.  A supervisor will not be supervising more than 10 dissertations in at a time.
  3. All new supervisors will be trained by internal staff who will demonstrate FUF’s expectations. They will start on a trial basis, where their quality will monitored closely by internal verifiers until confidence is reached that they have adopted the FUF and university supervision culture. A record of completion of training will be kept on file.
  4. Supervisors who are not employees of FUF are paid a fixed fee for each dissertation. They too cannot exceed supervising more than 10 dissertations at a time.
  5. Supervisors should inform FUF of their existing time commitments, so that a suitable number of dissertations can be allocated, according to Appendix A: Permanent Staff Dissertation Supervisor Time Management and Appendix B: Part-time Dissertation Supervisors Time Management.
  6. Each new dissertation allocated to a supervisor will require the supervisor to sign an agreement that they will devote a minimum period of time to guiding this student and that they have that time available.
  7. The Program Director will monitor the progress of dissertation supervision throughout the period of supervision through contacting the student and the supervisor for feedback on the experience.
  8. New supervisors will be vetted by the Program Director. Such vetting will include a background check (references) and examples of previous supervision work. The record of such vetting will be filed with the Program Director.
  9. Supervisors are expected to comment on any suspected plagiarism for each dissertation that they supervise.
  10. All Masters students will be required to undertake a viva at the time of submitting their dissertation proposal to verify that they are the genuine author of the work, and capable of undertaking the research.

Assigning Supervisors

Each supervisor should have an extensive background in the fields of study of each dissertation being supervised. Each trimester students who are starting writing their dissertation proposals are shown a list of current available full-time and part-time dissertation supervisors with a summary of their experience. Students are encouraged to contact the supervisor informally to discuss the research that they may like to undertake and whether the supervisor will be happy to supervise them. This helps students refine their scope of study at an early stage.

Independent of above, when a research proposal is submitted for consideration, the Program Director will formally approach potential suitable supervisor to request whether they are able and willing to supervise the dissertation. If no available supervision found, then the program director research further afield to find a new part-time supervisor. If the search fails, then the student is asked to modify or change their field of study to allow a suitable supervisor to be founded.

Submission

The university aims to process submitted dissertation within 15 working days of submission. Processing includes:

  1. Plagiarism search by the Program Director, relying upon experience and using Turnitin, Urgund and other online originality checking tools.
  2. Initial marking of dissertation.
  3. Second marking of dissertation.
  4. Submitting to the University with matriculation papers.
  5. Students will be issued a tracing number to use to track the progress of their dissertation through the system.

Responsibilities of the Supervisor

  • Advice the student on selecting a dissertation topic which falls under the expertise of the supervisor, such that the student can produce a rigorous dissertation proposal.
  • Provide advice and guidance to students such that can be written a dissertation of the standard suitable for a Taught Master’s degree.
  • Keep a record of meetings which have been planned to an agreed timetable.

Responsibilities of the Students

  • To work independently on the dissertation, although with the benefit of the supervisors advise.
  • To meet the supervisor regularly according to the agreed timetable.
  • To take responsibility for meeting all deadlines set by the supervisor.
  • To bring problems to the attention of the supervisor as soon as they become apparent.

This Policy is subject to annual review.
Last reviewed: November 2020
Next review: November 2021