Home » Education and Training » Masters Dissertation Scheme » Information for Businesses

Information for Businesses

Following another successful year of the CDRC Masters Dissertation Scheme, we are now seeking proposals from businesses for new projects due to commence next spring (2024). 

We are aiming to open the application process for Masters students in January 2024 and to encourage applicants from a wide breadth of disciplines and institutions across the UK (including computer science, data science, economics, geography and business analytics). The application process will be facilitated on the CDRC website and you will be encouraged to select successful applicants in early 2024.

This presents a great opportunity to get a Masters student to help you to make progress with:

  • Major current issues, such as multi-channel marketing, customer insight, store networks, transport, surveys, social media, brand insight, predictive modelling and many others.
  • Projects that you’ve long had in mind, but not had the resource to carry out.
  • Working with data – both your own customer data and also maximising the value to be obtained from open data or academic sector data.
  • Trialling new and novel data analysis techniques which Masters students may have the expertise to explore

It also publicises your company’s interest in students with data skills.

Our previous experience illustrates the main features of the initiative:

Typically business supervisors and their student liaise once every two weeks during the research phase (either through meetings, telephone conversations or email exchanges), although contact hours vary by case to case. Some partners have preferred their student to work from their office throughout the Summer for example. We ask each supervisor to provide a small £500 sponsorship for the student, plus necessary travel subsidies, to be paid upon project completion. In addition, the CDRC will fund three student prizes – these will be presented at an academic conference in October which all participants in the scheme are invited to.

Diagram showing timelines:
Jan - projects advertised
Jan to Apr - student application process open, successful students may be required to attend interview
May to Aug - Research is undertaken either at the student's university or on-site with the industry sponsor
September - Dissertations are submitted
October - Participants are invited to an Academic conference where the prizes are awarded.

Previous sponsors have included representatives from the following companies: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Boots, E.ON, Centrica, Whitbread, Barbour ABI, Camelot, Barclays, Virgin Media, Dixons Retail, Experian, EasyJet, AXA PPP Healthcare, Argos, Local Data Company, Shop Direct, Knight Frank, Zoopla…

If you are interested in taking part in the programme in 2024 please register your interest with projects@cdrc.ac.uk. There will be a chance to update proposed projects later this year and all enquiries are welcome.

To participate, one person from your department should:

  • Register your interest with projects@cdrc.ac.uk.
  • Review selected applications forwarded by the CDRC and select an appropriate candidate (February – March)
  • Be available for occasional supervisory meetings over the Summer – the contact hours and work schedule can be agreed with the student prior to the research process (May – September )
  • Be able to provide the student with £500 (and reasonable travel expenses) following successful project completion.

Please also see the Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of this page.


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

The scheme supports the ESRC’s aim of developing its engagement between academia and the private sector, particularly in the field of large data sets. For businesses, it is an invaluable opportunity to take advantage of the data science skills offered by Masters students and a possible bridge toward collaborations with academia. For students, 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 scheme has had positive implications for graduate recruitment. Most of the students from previous years of the scheme immediately went on to work in the data industry (some at their sponsor companies). In addition, a number of them have joined the CDRC to undertake postgraduate research – some of which are pursuing PhDs with the support of their original sponsors from the dissertation scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions