Understanding the Needs of Masters Dissertation Supervisors: Supporting Students in Professional Contexts


  • Sarah Cornelius University of Aberdeen
  • Sandra Nicol University of Aberdeen




dissertation supervision, Masters supervision, supporting supervisors, supervisor needs, professional learning


Despite a wealth of research into the supervision of PhD projects, there is relatively sparse literature to draw on to help with the development of appropriate support for supervisors of independent research projects undertaken at Masters level. Although some sources consider supervision of full-time Masters students, part-time and work based contexts have received little attention. To help bridge this gap, this paper explores the nature of the part-time supervision of Masters students in professional contexts, identifying features that make it distinct from PhD supervision. It draws on questions posed by supervisors in a Scottish School of Education, and reflections on their experiences, to identify challenges and issues that need to be addressed to provide appropriate support. Recommendations are made for strategies to resolve recurring issues and meet supervisors’ needs, and issues for further investigation are identified.

Author Biographies

Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen

Senior Lecturer

School of Education

Sandra Nicol, University of Aberdeen

Sandra Nicol is a Teaching Fellow in the School of Education, University of Aberdeen, teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her interests are in supporting research both from the student and the supervisors’ perspective at Master’s level and the use of film technology in the classroom. Email: sandra.nicol@abdn.ac.uk


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Original Research