MSc by Research

Cranfield School of Management

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MSc by Research in Leadership & Management

(Scholarship of Andragogic Learning and Teaching)
MSc Research Scholarship: Master of Science by Research in Leadership and Management

Cranfield University specialises in applied research which shapes our teaching and is converted into practical application of knowledge in Management and Technology. We have a unique Masters by Research in Leadership and Management opportunity for someone to help us to develop the distinctive scholarship of post-graduate, post-experience learning in adults.

The lack of current research in this emerging field offers exciting opportunities for ground-breaking research, and early indications are that motivations, knowledge acquisition and application are very different from standard pedagogies based on child learners. If so, your research has the potential to transform university education.

You may already be working in education or be considering a role in academia; or you might be in a managerial or learning-related role in industry. Either way, you are interested in management, motivation, leadership and learning. This is not a teaching post, although if that is part of your planned career path opportunities to gain academic experience may be available to the right candidate.

Working closely with our new Centre for Andragogy and Academic Skills, your research will push forward the boundaries of our understanding about how adults learn; your results will demonstrate how to maximise learning and could be published in scholarly journals as well as influencing the learning and teaching practices in higher education. You will join a cohort of research students in our world-leading School of Management and be given training in academic research methods appropriate to your research needs, and you will work directly with students and academics across various themes within the University.

A scholarship of up to full UK/EU fees is available. Note that this scholarship does not provide funding for living expenses or other costs.

Possible research topics include:

  1. What is Cranfield’s signature andragogy?
    Cranfield University is unique in the UK in delivering exclusively post-graduate higher education that focuses on Technology and Management. Cranfield’s andragogic approach emphasises adult learners taking responsibility for their own, self-directed learning so that they can maximise their previous experiences and can follow their own particular interests. Our Scholarship in Andragogic Learning and Teaching will provide robust research to underpin our students’ learning experiences. Possible examples are shown below.Many of Cranfield’s Master’s level courses include a Group Project which develops an international community of practice for the learner, and establishes a testing ground for the individualised industrial research project that follows. The establishment of project teams is one aspect of Cranfield’s signature andragogy that may be investigated. The ways that the teams are selected, the induction, development and presentation of the group project, and the learning taken from this into the following project may occur in a variety of ways within the different Schools but more information is needed about the range of models that are used, and the benefits and disadvantages of each.


    These team projects give each student an opportunity to learn a variety of skills that could help to manage a later individual project that may be written up as a dissertation or thesis or paper for assessment.

    Research Question: What factors – including team formation, project type, and supervisor interaction – influence the success of the later individual project? This may involve looking at how teams are formed for a variety of courses, the range of skills that the team experience develops for the individual, and the way these skills are used in the following individual project.

  2. Andragogy and new developments in Learning and Teaching
    Course Directors are asked to identify new developments in Learning and Teaching that are worthy of being shared across the University when they complete their Annual Reflective Review each year.Objectives of the project: to look at new developments in Learning and Teaching that are identified within Cranfield’s Annual Reflective Review to see the extent of new Andragogic practices that can be shared, and how we can categorise other areas of good practice that improve the student experience.


    Proposed Research Question: What proportion of new developments in Learning and Teaching are identified as Andragogic practices? Does this mean that Andragogic practices are not used, or that they are not considered as new? If other areas of good practice are identified, how can we categorise these, so that we can find out more about using them to improve the student experience.

    Suggested methodology: Desk analysis (from School Digests and Course Annual Reflective Reviews) to identify good practice as cited by Directors of Education and Course Directors. Further investigations (including discussions with Course Directors and observations) lead to analysis of typologies with a view to organising workshops/presentations for academic staff to share the range of new developments. Presentations may be recorded or developed as short Explaining Everything clips or as Technology Enhanced Learning modules to be made available to staff.

  1. Developing the Reflective Practitioner

Objectives of the project: To establish an assessment framework based on the characteristics and potential development of the Reflective Practitioner through

  • a literature review (highlighting sources of information on characteristics of reflection and reflective practice)
  • summarising the characteristics of a Reflective Practitioner (in an Introductory Guide to the Reflective Practitioner (e.g. power-point slides/Explain Everything)
  • developing the outline of a TEL Unit (preparing for a workshop to develop reflective practice)
  • constructing and piloting an assessment framework (which includes the transformational impact of becoming a reflective practitioner) that can be used across disciplines / Schools (i.e. without subject-specific content).

Proposed Research Questions: What are the characteristics of a reflective practitioner? How can these characteristics be developed? Can this be structured to create a framework to assess development of the reflective practitioner?

Suggested methodology: a brief review of literature: to ascertain criteria for building the levels of an assessment framework and to provide a database of additional reference materials; development and piloting of an introductory guide and unit on Developing the Reflective Practitioner, and piloting the assessment framework.

  1. Kolb updated and applied

Objectives of the Project: Kolb’s learning cycle is well known and widely cited. The learning cycle proposes that learning takes place through a process of experiencing, reflecting, monitoring, and re-engaging. This project would explore how andragogic thinking and research has developed since Kolb proposed the learning cycle, how it works in practice and whether there are alternative approaches; and would conduct a field experiment to compare Kolb’s approach with an alternative approach.

Proposed Research Question: What new learning methods have developed from Kolb’s learning cycle and what are their perceived advantages?

Suggested methodology: a review of literature to identify the development of andragogic learning and practice, and to provide a short-list of potential learning methods, including double-loop learning (Argyris and Schön, 1978)[1]; followed by a field experiment based on the development and testing of comparative / alternative approaches.

Admission requirements:

  • a strong first degree (UK level 2.1 minimum)
  • Candidates should satisfy Cranfield School of Management admission criteria. Please see Admission Requirements for English language requirements.

Deadline for applications: 31st July 2015.

Expressions of interest, alongside a CV, are invited via email to in the first instance.



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