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Masters Dissertation Scheme 2021: another fantastic year

A record number of students from UK universities applied to the Masters Dissertation Scheme (MDS) this year. Of more than 80 applications, a total of 20 students were selected to partner with 15 organisations for their 2021 Masters dissertations. 

Real-world data was used across a range of issues to produce innovative research in areas from loyalty card and gambling harm data to housing, social media, health, retail, transport, construction and the justice system.

Abstracts for each dissertation can be found on the Project Archive page.  Five students have also recorded videos, talking about their experiences of the Scheme.

The range of subject areas covered gives the MDS a broad appeal and applications were received from students studying across numerous diverse disciplines, ranging from Business Analytics to Sustainable Urbanism, and Spatial Data Science to Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Applications also came from a wide range of UK universities including Bristol, City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Nottingham, Oxford, UCL and Westminster. 

Congratulations to all of this year’s students, and special thanks to the sponsors and academics who supported the 2021 Scheme.  

For enquiries about the Masters Dissertation Scheme, or to discuss next year’s Scheme, please email info@cdrc.ac.uk  

Background to the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme 

In 2012, ESRC funding allowed for the establishment of the first MDS. Following its success, the MDS has continued to be funded annually, with ESRC funding used alongside business co-funding to sponsor Masters degree dissertations that address business horizon-scanning topics.

Proposals from business sponsors are sought during the first term of Masters courses and are posted on the CDRC website. Any interested Masters students studying at a UK institution are invited to apply for proposals from February 2022 (second term of the Masters). Dissertations are conducted by postgraduate students and are co-supervised by academics and business analysts from the sponsoring organisation.

Although funded initially on an ad-hoc basis, and subsequently subject to short term renewals of CDRC funding (such as under the World Class Labs’ funding stream), the Scheme has proven remarkably successful, with a total of 76 dissertations completed with external organisations to 2020 and a further 20 dissertations completed in this year’s very successful annual round (2020-2021 intake). 

Our LinkedIn network brings together a network of 90 students, sponsors and academics who have been involved in the Scheme over the past years. CDRC alumni and friends are invited to join here: www.linkedin.com/in/cdrc-alumni-group-1613a31ba/.  

Past MDS alumni work in a range of sectors worldwide, including retail, banking, hospitality, logistics and academia.  

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme

Celebrating collaboration: the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme. Thursday 29th April 2021, 10:30-15:00.

The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme, now in its tenth year, has been successfully run by the Consumer Data Research Centre for the last seven years. The event celebrated the success of the scheme, and explored the changing nature of academic-industry collaboration. Masters students who had gone through the scheme presented project case studies, and a selection of alumni spoke of the positive impact the scheme had had on their data science careers. A panel session rounded off the event with a discussion of the possibilities and ambitions for the next seven years of the Masters Dissertation Scheme. The event was attended by industry partners, MDS alumni, and the CDRC team including Paul Longley, Alex Singleton, and Jonathan Reynolds.

Speaker biographies


1030-1130: The Business of Engagement. Session recording (Longley 0:06, Dugmore 7:05, Reynolds 28:27, Squires 41:21)

  • Introduction & welcome: Professor Paul Longley, Director, CDRC
  • The evolution of academic-industry collaboration: Keith Dugmore, Demographic Decisions. Slides
  • CDRC: Where are they now? MDS 7 years on: Dr Jonathan Reynolds, Deputy Director (Oxford), CDRC. Slides
  • The business of engagement: the firm’s perspective: Martin Squires, Director of Advanced Analytics, Pets at Home. Slides

1145-1245: Alumni presentations. Session recording (Murage 2:16, Davies 25:10, Tonge & Montt 45:53)

  • Nombuyiselo Murage, Tamoco. Dissertation at Tamoco. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool. Slides
  • Alec Davies, Pets at Home. Dissertation at Sainsbury’s. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool, PhD Geographic Data Science. Slides
  • Christian Tonge, Movement Strategies. MSc Geographic Data Science, University of Liverpool, and Cristobal Montt, Movement Strategies. MSc Data Science, City, University of London. Dissertations at Movement Strategies. Slides

1400-1505: Alumni presentations (continued) and panel discussion. Session recording (Ushakova 1:48, Samson 21:29, Panel 37:26)

  • Alumni presentation: Dr Anastasia Ushakova, Senior Research Associate, University of Lancaster. Dissertation at British Gas.
    MSc Public Policy, UCL; PhD Computational Social Science. Slides
  • Alumni presentation: Nick Samson, Associate Director, CBRE. Dissertation at British Gas. MSc Geographic Information Science, UCL. Slides
  • Panel Discussion. The next 7 years. Achievements and ambitions: Alex Singleton, Deputy Director (Liverpool), CDRC;
    Samantha Hughes, Analytics Innovation Manager, Avon; Martin Squires, Director of Advanced Analytics, Pets at Home.
  • Thanks & conclusion: Professor Paul Longley, Director, CDRC

Nick Samson, 2014 MDS alumnus. Dissertation at British Gas. Project title: Can smart meters save consumers and British Gas money and carbon by pinpointing which consumers are most likely and best placed to install insulation in their homes?