Cultivating mutually beneficial relationships between leading industry players and current students has long been a priority for the University of Edinburgh Business School. A particularly valuable strand of this approach can be found in the commissioning of company sponsored dissertations, delivered free of charge by students across our Masters programmes.
Our Masters students provide benefits to organisations through commissioned research projects

What are company sponsored dissertations?

Company sponsored dissertations enable organisations to commission tailored and in-depth research projects to be carried out by current Masters students. Through the scheme, organisations gain access to students who are among the very best in their field, as well as being given support from world-leading academics. Over a 12-month period, the students combine their strategic business and management skills and specialist knowledge, to investigate issues or areas of research specifically relevant to the organisation.

These projects not only offer valuable opportunities for students to gain experience in applying their academic knowledge to real-world business challenges, but they also enable organisations to explore valuable areas of business development that they may otherwise struggle to resource.

While specific outputs of company sponsored dissertations vary from one project to the next, key takeaways that organisations can expect to experience include:

  • Gaining access to specialised business thinking to undertake a piece of research or analysis that the business may not have the resources to tackle in-house
  • A dedicated piece of work for the organisation completed by a student approaching the end of an intensive Masters programme
  • Receiving a rigorous academic dissertation setting out research, analysis and recommendations
  • A tailored executive summary and presentation
  • No cost to the business apart from their time; the consultancy is free
  • Building a relationship with the world-renowned University of Edinburgh Business School
  • Gaining fresh perspectives and ideas into the business

What are organisations saying about their experiences?

Having recently commissioned one such research project, Vice President of Data Science at Hubpay, Sean Harkin, shared thoughts on the experience:

“The principal benefit for our business was that we got additional resource to tackle a number of key analytical questions that we did not, at that time, have enough resource to cover with our internal data science team. This provided us with groundwork that has since become an important component of larger projects.”

“The process and admin around participating in the programme were relatively straightforward and not onerous, and the University was a pleasure to engage with.”

“If I had additional hiring budget at the time, I would have recruited the two students after they had completed their studies. Based on my experience, I can definitely recommend the programme,” Sean concluded.

Senior People Consultant at FreeAgent, Georgina Allan, also offered her reflections on commissioning a company sponsored dissertation:

“Having the students focus their dissertations and research on topics that were important to us meant we were able to gain some interesting new perspectives and insights, and they each provided us with recommendations of follow up actions to consider”.

She added, “It was great to be able to chat to the students beforehand to get a feel for their interests and motivations, and this enabled us to set clear expectations for the project so that the students could apply for the project if it felt like the right match for them.

“We would recommend the scheme to other companies,” Georgina explains. “It's a great way to gain more data and insights into a problem that your business might be experiencing and potential solutions to that problem, and also an opportunity to support a student put into practice their learnings in a real work environment”.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in exploring how your organisation could benefit from commissioning a company sponsored dissertation, please contact our Business Engagement Manger, Rachel Parks. Rachel will be delighted to send you an application form or discuss any ideas or questions you might have.

The deadline for initial inquiries is Thursday 1 December 2022 with applications forms due by 31 December 2022.

Further information

Hear more from students and organisations about how a similar consultancy scheme benefited them in this short video:

Working on a client consultancy project at the University of Edinburgh Business School