Details for Students

The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme gives masters level students the opportunity to conduct their dissertation with the co-supervision of a large Business. The projects offer students a chance to work with consumer datasets on real-world business problems.


  • Students apply to projects which are proposed by businesses
  • Successful applicants undertake their dissertations over the spring and summer, with regular supervisory meetings with their business sponsors. Sometimes projects are undertaken on site at the sponsors head office (this is made clear in the project proposal forms)
  • Students are also offered regular support from a supervisor from their own university as they normally would
  • Business sponsors usually provide £500 in sponsorship, plus travel expenses, to be paid upon successful completion of the project
  • PDF copies of (completed) dissertations are submitted at the start of September to their business sponsor and also to the CDRC
  • Each dissertation is considered for a cash prize (£500, £250 and £250) to be awarded at an academic conference, to be held in October
  • Students will be invited to produce A1 posters of their work and also present these at the conference
  • Students will also be invited to produce a 600 word extended abstract for their projects to be published on the CDRC website

The programme offers students:

  • A stimulating project to work on
  • Co-supervision from a major UK business
  • Industry advice on how data are used in real-world problem solving, and experience of addressing problems that matter
  • A chance of winning one of three prizes (£500, £250 and £250), awarded to the best three dissertations (funded by the CDRC)
  • An all-expenses-paid opportunity to showcase their research findings to an audience of leading businesses and academics; this forms part of an academic or industry conference that is normally hosted in London in October. (In 2022 it took place in Oxford in early November).
  • An opportunity to have their work published and made freely available on the CDRC website

The programme presents an invaluable opportunity for students who are wishing to pursue a wide range of successful careers related to business and data insight.

Please also see the FAQs at the bottom of this page.

How to Apply

The application process is as follows. If a project takes your interest, please complete the application form, and send it back to, along with a copy of your CV. Both documents should be in PDF format. Applications will be sent to industry partners for consideration until all projects are successfully filled. Any questions about the process or the Scheme can be sent to Richard Arnold.


The CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme is organised by Prof Paul Longley (UCL), Richard Arnold (UCL) and Hon Prof Keith Dugmore (UCL), and has been supported by over 25 companies and the Data Analysts User Group (DUG) since it was introduced in 2012.

The programme supports the ESRC’s aim of developing its engagement between academia and the private sector, particularly in the field of large data sets. The scheme provides a unique and invaluable opportunity for Masters students to work on large commercial datasets which would otherwise be unobtainable or extremely costly. It also provides opportunities to conduct research on real-world problems faced by large businesses. Consequently, the programme has had positive implications for graduate recruitment. Most of the students from previous years of the programme immediately went on to work in the data industry (some at their sponsor companies). In addition, 10 students have joined the CDRC as research students – some of which are pursuing PhDs with the support of their original sponsors from the dissertation programme.

Frequently Asked Questions