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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Placement-Based Dissertation (MSc in Management of Bioeconomy, Innovation and Governance) (PGSP11544)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryFor work-based dissertations, students will undertake a dissertation linked to a placement with a host organisation of no longer than 15,000 words on a topic related to the bioeconomy (innovation and governance in life science sectors), and to be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations, usually by mid August. These placements generally consist of eight weeks of research on a project co-developed with a host organisation. These dissertations can be based on interactions with an organisation through a placement that involves physical co-location with the host, or work-based projects that involve varying but lesser degree of interaction and entwinement with the external organisation. Projects are subject to approval by the dissertation supervisor and the Programme Director. Students will be supervised throughout the placement by an academic supervisor. You will also normally have a supervisor based in your host organisation.The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a substantive piece of independent research on a topic related to innovation and governance in the bioeconomy. The work is expected to engage critically and analytically with the literature in the field, building upon relevant concepts, theories and methods introduced in the taught elements of the degree and deploying a range of primary and secondary sources as well as appropriate data-analytic and bibliographic skills. Each student will be allocated a research supervisor by the end of the second semester to advise on and oversee her/his research progress.
Course description The WBP dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 15,000 words (including a 3000 word work-based diary), based on independent study of a topic negotiated between the student and a host organisation. Students who meet the academic criteria can either apply for the School's competitive work-based placements with national or international organisations or set up their own placements with the help of the Programme Director and the Practice Programme manager. Like the standard dissertation, the WBP dissertation tests students' ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively bigger quantities of information and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. Within the field of study of the management of Bioeconomy, Innovation and Governance, you will also be expected to demonstrate your ability to engage critically and analytically with the academic and policy literature in the field, building upon relevant concepts and theory covered in the taught element of the programme.

Outline content

The course consists of both self-study and research, and engagement with a host organisation, which requires the preparation of a work-based diary. The student will send a progress report to the academic supervisor and the Placement Coordinator fortnightly during the placement. These reports will later be compiled into a single document for inclusion in the work-based dissertation (note, these reports can be edited upon completion of the placement and prior to the final submission of the work-based dissertation). The Diary should be written with the following goals in mind:
- Tracking the development of the placement;
- Commenting in a reflexive and self-critical manner on methodological (e.g. 'positionality,' 'gatekeepers' and access, etc.) and ethical issues arising as the student executes the project placement;
- Reporting on the student's personal development within the work situation, making reference to the skills being developed.

The dissertation also encompasses a 12,000 word analytical report. WBP students undertake a piece of research requested by the host organisation or make some other contribution to an identified project. Accordingly, the form of the student's output to the host organisation will vary depending on the nature of the placement and the host organisation's needs. It is the student's responsibility, in consultation with the organisation and their academic supervisor, to clarify at the outset the format appropriate to their particular placement. Some examples include a policy report or briefing paper on a specific issue relevant to the work of the host organisation and which makes recommendations for organisational strategy and future action; a research report based on quantitative or qualitative data collected on behalf of the organisation, which addresses an issue of specific concern to the host organisation, and which feeds back into the organisation's work; a project evaluation report that looks critically at a specific project established by the host organisation - examining its success in achieving goals and objectives - and which sets recommendations for the future. This list is merely illustrative and should not be treated as an exhaustive or restrictive enumeration of the full range of possible outputs.

An indicative timetable for the School WBP dissertations is as follows (there is greater flexibility for students who wish to set up their own projects)

Late January - release of projects to students;

Early February - Programme-level Dissertation meeting.

End of January - WBP info session

Early February - deadline for students to apply

Mid February - WBP selection panels

Late February - Students allocated to projects. The Placement Coordinator will contact you to arrange an introductory meeting with your host organisation.

Late March - Finalise project details and final sign off. Start literature review.

Early April - Pre-departure workshop (date tbc).

Mid April - Start project and communicate with supervisor.

Mid June - Finish project and meet with supervisor as agreed.

Mid July - Finish first draft of dissertation.

Mid August - Hand in dissertation.

This is a dissertation course, so the primary form of student experience consists of the student conducting a research project and writing in an in-depth report. However, with WBP dissertations, the student will also gain valuable experience working with an organisation and conducting research that will be of direct benefit to that organisation. Students can expect the following from their University of Edinburgh supervisor in the dissertation project:

-normally 3-4 supervision meetings,
- detailed feedback on a full dissertation plan and one chapter
-help with and feedback on the general structure and organisation of the argument(s)
- ongoing help with specific queries

The supervisor should: help the student to define the research problem and focus your argument and topic, · advise on methodology, coherence and relevance of the dissertation, · discuss mutual availability and methods of contact etc, · give basic advice on relevant bodies of literature to get the research started and/or refer the student to another member of staff for suggestions on sources; · discuss and approve draft outline and timetable of work; · provide diagnostic comment and constructive suggestions on one chapter in good time (normally within two weeks of receipt); help with issues of thesis and dissertation structure.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 600 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 12, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 588 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
A dissertation of up to 15,000 words in length
Feedback During the dissertation project, learning takes place on a much more individual and independent basis.
General guidance on the dissertation is contained in the Graduate School Taught Masters Student
Structure and guidance for the project is provided in part through regular meetings with a supervisor,
through formal presentations of dissertation proposals and preliminary conclusions (in dedicated
workshops that will be organized for subject area once dissertation work is underway), and through
informal discussion sessions with the Programme Director and other students on the programme. The
project is, however, your own responsibility, and must be entirely of your own work. Students - and
supervisors - rights and responsibilities during the dissertation stage are described in the Code of Practice
for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critical understanding and application of theories, concepts and methods related to the study of the Bioeconomy
  2. Detailed knowledge and demonstrable, in-depth understanding of the placement project
  3. Ability to critically evaluate and analyse the empirical evidence employed in the dissertation project
  4. Critical understanding of the challenges and realities of work in life sciences and the bioeconomy
  5. Demonstrable skills in data analysis, academic writing and referencing
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Farah Huzair
Tel: (0131 6)50 6386
Course secretaryMr Adam Petras
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