The Graduate School

Staff

FAQs: About QMMM | Courses/Regulations | Assessment

Process Flowchart & Timeline

Project Agreement & Guidance

Scottish MMM Case Studies

Supporting Students through a Worked Based Project

Project Proposal & Risk Assessment Forms


Frequently Asked Questions for Staff

About QMMM

Is the University supporting this pilot?
Yes, Making the Most of Masters is part of Queen’s plan to enhance our offering to Postgraduate Taught students and responds to our commitments under the Corporate Plan and the Education Strategy 2016- 2021.  A project team has been established to bring together existing expertise from the Graduate school, the Science Shop and Employer Engagement.

Will it cost anything to get involved?
No, the project team are working in Queen’s and the pilot will receive some additional support through the EC Funded EnRRICH project until December 2017.

Will all students be able to do work based projects?
This will depend on how many projects can be sourced, the level of engagement with external organisations and the capacity of staff to commit the appropriate time resource to supervising the projects. Work-based projects are not intended to completely replace more traditional dissertations or final projects, but to be available as an optional alternative.

How long does a project last?
Projects will be designed to fit with the existing timetable of each particular Masters programme.

How is the project assessed?
This is entirely at the discretion of the programme director.  As the project forms a part of the students’ degree, the grade must comply with current marking regulations and meet the needs of external examiners.  These conditions vary between programmes.  We plan to explore different options as part of the pilot and provide examples of existing assessment schemes at Queen’s.

Will it take a lot of time to organise?
After discussing your needs, we will consider existing links with appropriate organisations. QUB Science Shop will provide projects from Community and Voluntary Sector organisations.  Projects from Public and Private sector organisations will be developed using existing professional and academic relationships.  Supervisors will then have to review any proposed topics to ensure they meet the necessary academic requirements.  They may also wish to engage in the student selection process. 

Will it take a lot of time to supervise?

In terms of on-going support, the time requirement is not expected to exceed that of a university based project.  In some cases, supervisors may wish to attend the meeting with the student and organisation but the need for this interaction will be determined by the individual supervisor.   As organisational links become more established, it is anticipated that the academic time input towards topic selection and monitoring will be reduced as organisations and co-ordinating staff become more familiar with the programme scope.

What support is available?

QMMM Co-ordinators have extensive experience in organising and supporting Work Based Projects and are keen to discuss support needs of academic staff interested in participating in the QMMM.  

Courses & Regulations

Are there any course and regulations considerations for staff interested in piloting QMMM?

The key factors are that any Queen’s Making the Most of Masters Work Based Project must be appropriate to the programme and fulfil the specified learning outcomes/subject benchmark statements. Where there are changes to the learning outcomes the Programme Specification should be revisited and will generally require approval via Courses and Regulations Group (CRG).  For those interested in making minor updates or modifications in the current academic year advice may be sought from the Courses and Regulations Group.   As programme reviews are currently ongoing, this is an opportune time to build in the option of Work Based Projects and any additional learning outcomes which might enhance the programme.

PGT programmes are governed by the Master’s Degree Characteristics Statement (QAA). With the exception of MRES, dissertations typically carry 60 CATS and can take the form of

  • Academic review (traditional)
  • Consultancy project e.g. Management School
  • Portfolio e.g. Music and Drama
  • Work Based Project  e.g. NBE programmes, Computer Science

New programmes can build these characteristics into their specifications.  In existing programmes where there are additional or changing learning outcomes which require approval via Courses and Regulations Group (CRG) programme specifications should also be updated with Academic Affairs.  This is necessary also where there is a requirement for students to attend workshops etc. Programme Directors and Directors of Education should be involved in discussions around any such changes. The QAA Master’s Degree Characteristics Statement does not hold any provision for group based approaches to the dissertation (unlike the Scottish Enhancement Framework).

Process should include

  • Consideration of whole course as part of Annual Programme Review
  • Are changes appropriate to relevant QAA benchmarks? 
  • Consultation with current students, usually via SSCC discussion which must be minuted
  • Discussion (informal) of proposed changes with current external examiner
  • Informing CRG.  Provide updated programme specification and module template. Include information to the effect that the student is expected to attend preparatory and skills sessions
  • Consideration of whether a new module may need to be created (on QSIS) even if this is to formalise something which is already taking place i.e. where programmes are currently offering Work Based Project options using their existing dissertation framework under their programme specification
  • Consideration should also be given to resources available in school, including time resource for supervision

Assessment

What are the implications for Assessment?

It is very feasible to complete an academic piece of work that is grounded in practice.  However it needs to be agreed in advance what is being looked for in the piece of work submitted.  The key in terms of assessment for Work Based Projects (WPBs) is the learning outcomes. The appropriateness of current assessment would be considered against the proposals for WBPs and this may need to be undertaken on a case-by-case basis.  Modules/programmes can provide more than one way in which to assess learning outcomes as long as there is parity and equivalence.  The Centre for Educational Development can advise further on this ced@qub.ac.uk

  • Consideration should be given to ensuring comparability between traditional dissertations and work-based projects
  • Existing assessment may be appropriate for Work Based Projects.  Both the traditional dissertation and the WBPs could share most of the assessment criteria or only one or two may be different.  The key thing is that all the criteria map on to learning outcomes for the module/ programme
  • Where it may be necessary to modify learning outcomes, consideration should be given to how they would need to change.  The Centre for Educational Development can advise further on this
  • The external examiners for QMMM WBPs will be the same as for traditional dissertations. It is good practice to inform and discuss with them any new options and outcomes.  It is important  to ensure that moderation/second marking processes are clear.  In general, discussion would need to take place around who assesses the piece and, if externals are involved, this process may need to be formalised.Discussion would be required at programme board level, with the relevant DE as well as with the External Examiner.  Study Regulations for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.
  • A fail is a fail no matter what the assessment piece.  The same rules for reassessment should apply to all students on a module no matter what assessment they decide to undertake. If a student fails the dissertation they may be allowed to re-engage with the company if they are re-submitting, depending on particular circumstances. If, for example, the issue has been with the company/organisation and getting access to necessary staff, data etc has been a problem students may be permitted to re-engage.  Where it is student failure or lack of quality work students should not be permitted to re-engage
  • Further discussion would be required around students proceeding to Dissertation ‘With caution’ and taking resits in August.  Academic Affairs can advise further on this further on this academic-affairs@qub.ac.uk
  • In some schools all students are given the option to participate in WPBs, in others there is a selection process.  The selection process for students is the responsibility of the supervisor and  consideration should be given to student capability in any selection environment
  • In cases where Masters programmes are used as a training ground for PhDs further discussion should take place on whether Schools favour a traditional dissertation model in PhD selection if presented with two students, one who completed a dissertation and the other a work based project.  This should be considered on a School by School basis. 

In terms of additional credits for attending preparatory workshops the key is to maintain  equivalence and parity in the learning and assessment process.  Options on different approaches include:

  • Make key elements compulsory – this may require CRG approval but minimum of Programme Specification update
  • Make workshops and support optional (but participants may receive a certificate from Graduate School)
  • Offer credits (for future discussion but this is unlikely in the first phase of the pilot for reasons of equivalence and parity across the programme, see above)


QMMM Project Agreement & Associated Guidance


The project agreement serves to ensure that all parties develop a transparent understanding of responsibilities, regulations and considerations. The topics that form the agreement are usually  discussed at the project planning stage between the project coordinator and the organisation, between the student and the organisation, or between all three parties and subject to approval by the academic supervisor. 

It should be ensured that a suitable topic for the achievement of the intended learning outcomes associated with the Work Based Project (WBP) is provided, and that organisations are aware of, accept and are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities for facilitating learning.  QAA guidance recommends that “In cases where a large scale placement is made with a single employer, the institution itself should normally enter into a written agreement setting out the respective responsibilities of the parties”. Chapter B10: Managing Higher Education Provision with Others   

This agreement is to be signed between the organisation, student and project coordinator following project preparation where initial project outlines are refined and where input from all parties has been agreed.  Regardless of the final content of this agreement, certain core components will need to be agreed upon that meet national guidelines for best practice, and academic quality and standards such as the QAA work based and placement learning guide 1 and the ASET good practice for placements guide.2

Other details to consider discussing and which should be captured at an early stage include confirmation of:

  • the name and address of the organisation
  • the name of the primary supervisor/contact person (where appropriate)
  • start and finish dates
  • the aims and intended learning outcomes
  • the schedule of any required visits to the organisation by the student
  • details of any costs that might be borne by the student
  • details of any record keeping activities which may involve students in defining
  • their own outcomes and evaluating their progress against these
  • emergency procedures, including a list of emergency contact numbers

A range of Project Agreement templates exist across the University and should be tailored to the requirements of the project and the programme

In addition WBPs projects may require the completion of a Health & Safety Checklist and an Intellectual Property (IP) Form or Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

QMMM Project Agreement

An agreement between the, Queen’s University of Belfast Making the Most of Master’s (QMMM) project Queen’s University of Belfast University Road, Belfast,   (Organisation Rep)   and (Student Name)Postgraduate student at Queen's University Belfast.

This agreement relates to arrangements by QMMM for the execution of a programme of work entitled:  (Project title)

  1. QUBMMM will arrange any necessary access to the academic supervisor by the Client Group. The time of the academic supervisor will normally be provided without charge to the client.
  2. The University will provide accommodation, the use of equipment, the services of technical and other supplies to the extent that is normally provided for internally based student projects. Where the provision required for the timely and efficient execution of the project exceeds the normal allowance for student projects or exceeds the host department’s budget, the client may be asked to pay for such provision or to join with the University in securing provision from a third party source. No costs will be incurred without prior agreement. These additional provisions will be listed in Appendix Two.
  3. The name of the student and, when available, the name of the academic supervisor will be listed below. The name(s) of the student(s), the academic supervisor, or the University may only be used after obtaining prior approval. Permission to refer to the University will not be unreasonably withheld.
  4. The copyright, or any other intellectual property rights, created by the project will rest with the University. Free and full use by the Client Group for the purpose declared when the project was initiated is agreed in advance. Use for any further purpose(s) will be subject to negotiation and approval on a case-by-case basis. Permission will not be unreasonably withheld.
  5. Use of the project report in other than its complete form will be checked with the University in reasonable and sufficient time before the intended date of such use to allow discussion as to the accuracy or suitability of the modified form.
  6. Students will normally carry out the project. Notwithstanding the contributions by the University and its staff, the University gives no warranty as to the accuracy of the project report or the suitability of any material contained in it for either general or specific purposes. It will be for the Client Group, or users, to ensure that any outcome from the project meets safety and other requirements. The Client Group agrees not to hold the University responsible in respect of any use of the project results. Notwithstanding this disclaimer, it is a matter of record that many work-based learning projects have been completed by Queen’s students to a very high standard and to the satisfaction of the Client Group.
  7. Upon completion of the project the student will be responsible for providing the group and The QUBMMM Co-ordinator with a completed copy of their project. The student shall provide them with the completed project within a reasonable amount of time, not more than two months. (See Appendix Three)

 

Supporting Students through a Work Based Project

The proposed workshops and resources follow the natural progression of a student through their Masters year and into a Work Based Project (WBP).   Resources will be developed in two formats, workshops which can be incorporated into existing programmes or used stand alone and online resources (Virtual Leaving Environment) resources to allow students to self-select material most relevant to their needs and to complement workshops.

In addition to compulsory and interdisciplinary preparatory workshops/lectures a ‘pick and mix’ approach can be taken in selecting which resources to make available to students. This decision should be based on the needs of the student group and there will be further discussion with programmes leaders to identify the most appropriate resources. Most resources can be customised.   The more general Careers Support activities and resources will be provided by staff in Careers, Employability and Skills who will also provide support in customising and delivering these resources.

Compulsory workshops for PGT participants in QMMM:

  • Rights, needs or aspirations? February 2017: 2 hour multidisciplinary interactive lecture to explore student expectations about individual and interpersonal needs.  Session designed to encourage students to reflect on their own assumptions and experiences and to consider how they could contribute to society through a Work Based Project
  • QMMM Interactive Interdisciplinary introductory group session end February 2017: Half day session for students interested in QMMM, including an introduction to Work Based Projects, to enhance student skills and insights and enable them to make the most of their work based learning opportunity, possibly based on Sand Pit model  
  • Half day simulation session end March 2017: for Masters students who have committed to participating in QMMM (involving students from different Faculties) to help them develop thinking and research skills and learn about multi- disciplinary teamwork 

Optional workshops 

  • Preparatory session on Workplace Professionalism (delivered at request of programme leader)
  • Preparatory session on good practice for researchers working with community sector organisations
  • Effective Leadership and Project management, including reflection on learning styles/team roles
  • Personality preferences, motivations and values for your future career, exploring personal motivators which might influence career decisions using Myers-Briggs type Inventory

Topics covered may include:

  • Your Masters and your career
  • Introduction to WBP’s
  • Finding a WBP
  • Manage your Career Development
  • Networking
  • Marketing yourself, CV’s, Covering letters and interviews
  • Relationship building and negotiating skills
  • Preparing for the workplace (being in the workplace, expectations, working styles,
  • project management)
  • Making the most of your WBP
  • Completing your WBP
  • Project Review
  • Marketing your experience to employers
  • How to use the resources

 


Project Flowchart & Timeline 

 

 These processes may vary and should fit within existing timelines in each School/Programme. 

 

Time

Activity

Responsible

October -December 2016

 

Establish academic requirements from participating programmes and what students may be most suitable/ able to help with

Science Shop; Employer Engagement

Early January 2017

 

Science Shop/Employer Engagement draw up draft projects and circulate to organisations for further refining/discussion

Science Shop; Employer Engagement

Mid January 2017

 

Project titles shared with academic supervisors, amended as appropriate then added to lists for appropriate disciplines

Science Shop; Employer Engagement

w/b 30 January 2017 onwards 

Projects circulated to students

Module Co-ordinators

Feb 2017 onwards

 

Interested students are taken through project, ethical and personal considerations

Interested students participate as groups in preparatory ’Rights, Needs or Aspirations’ session to encourage awareness of students’ assumptions and experiences 

Students ensure their academic supervisor is supportive of the project

Academic Supervisors;

Science Shop; Employer Engagement;

Graduate School;

PG Students

End March 2017

 

Students participate with other PGTs in ½ day Policy Simulation

Graduate School;

Science Shop

March - June 2017

 

Meetings with students, organisations and QMMM Co-ordinator (and academic supervisor, where appropriate).  Project details discussed including content, timescale, ethics etc

PG Students;

Science Shop; Employer Engagement;

Academic Supervisors;

 

April - June 2017

QMMM agreements signed

Interim assessment of students already engaged in projects

PG Students; QMMM partner organisations

Science Shop; Employer Engagement;

Academic Supervisors;

April – June 2017 ongoing

 

Students begin project work with academic supervision and QMMM support if necessary.  Students in touch with organisations as appropriate

 

PG Students; QMMM partner organisations

Science Shop; Employer Engagement;

Academic Supervisors;

September 2017

 

Students submit projects to academic supervisors and QMMM Co-ordinators who send it on to partner organisation

PG Students;

Science Shop; Employer Engagement;

Academic Supervisors;

  


Scottish MMM Case Studies 

 

Organisation: FarmEnergy Consulting Ltd

Subject Area: Renewable Energy

Project Title: Investigations into noise from wind turbines

Project Outline:

Aberdeenshire is currently getting more and more wind turbines. This company is involved in assisting with planning applications and specialises in the noise impact from the turbines. Noise is one of the main concerns from those who live close to turbines and each complaint has to be investigated to assess its validity. There are still many areas that are need further research but the field is changing rapidly.  The precise scope of this project will be determined near the time of study but could involve investigations into wind shear, amplitude modulation or tonality.

Whilst we do have a large data set already it may be possible to get the student involved in further data collection, but the primary aim of the project will be data analysis. From this it should be possible to derive methodologies that will be useful for future assessments and a better quantification of the likely nuisance level of the turbine noise.

 

Organisation:  Sustainable Community Energy Network

Study Area: Carbon/Energy Management

Project Title: Development of a Social Impact Standard for Renewable Energy schemes

Project Outline:

Despite continued heated public debate on the role and rights of local communities in renewable energy development, there is presently no way to readily compare the socio-economic impacts resulting from renewable energy projects and associated benefit schemes. The proposed project aims to address this shortcoming by developing a universal ‘Social Impact Renewable Energy Standard’ (SIRES) for renewable energy development.

Drawing on the broad literature available on existing indices, community benefits and engagement, and social impact assessment, the project would develop a simple and transparent method to disclose social-economic impacts and engagement performance specifically targeting renewable energy (RE) developers and/or installations. Ultimately, the aim is  to mainstream local community engagement and integrate social standards into RE business strategy and operations, enabling socially responsible practices to bring added value and reputation to renewable energy enterprises.

 

Subject Area: Material Science

Project title: Powder metals in high stress environments of sub-sea applications

Project Outline:

Powder metals offer good control of effective grain size and shape when compared to normally forged materials. The material process is little used in the oil industry and could be seen as an alternative to established materials such as nickel based alloys.

The project should compare strength, wear, fatigue, cost, processing and shaping, and other relevant attributes with established materials. Chemical attack such as SO2 and hydrogen embrittlement should also be considered.

Click here for more Success Stories.


Project Proposal & Risk Assessment Forms