The end-of-degree dissertation (TFM, as per Spanish acronym) must be an original, unpublished, individual and autonomous academic piece of work. It proves that master would-be graduates have acquired and developed the necessary professional skills to work as a teacher in secondary education and language teaching.
The dissertation must showcase students have acquired the general and specific competences set out in the master’s programme. Their ability to turn “to know” skills into “to do” ones, and that they have “learnt to learn” must also clearly appear in the dissertation.
The dissertation is, therefore, the last step towards obtaining the master’s degree. It also proves that the student, having attained the master’s objectives, is fully qualified to work as a professional teacher in their field of expertise.
Therfore, the dissertation must clearly be oriented to the implementation of the relevant professional skills linked to the master’s degree, both regarding the dissertation itself and the defense, through video conference, before a committee appointed by the university.
The dissertation amounts to 6 ECTS within the master’s programme, which involves 150 hours of student’s work.
The end-of-degree dissertation can never be passed through credit recognition.
Supervision and the Dissertation Commission
Two stages have been defined to ensure the smooth running of the dissertation process, spread over the whole academic year. Each stage involves peadagogical and learning actions, as follows.
First stage: analysis and documentation
This stage will be completed over the first term, through the online platform (Aula Virtual). Students will get acquainted with the course and the dissertation process.
Students will have access to the online platform and to all relevant documents available on that platform: syllabus, list of topic areas, the dissertation template, and some compulsory recommended reading material for students to acquire the necessary skills to embark on the dissertation process.
There will be no direct supervision over this stage, although the Dissertation Commission will undertake coordinating duties and will provide guidance and make announcements on the online platform.
Students’ main duties will be:
- To read and take in all documents, according to recommendations and the timing issued by the Dissertation Commission.
- To reflect upon the topic areas proposed for the dissertation.
- To submit the proposal on topic area and assessment choice within the established deadline. Submission on the online platform is compulsory.
Second stage: working on the dissertation
In this stage students will work on their dissertation proper over the second and third terms.
In order to ensure effective work, the university will appoint an academic tutor (supervisor) to supervise the student’s work. The supervision will be done through email, using the university email account exclusively.
Supervisors will ensure that students acquire the relevant skills linked to the course. Their tasks will include:
- To provide guidance and advice to students, answering their questions and assisting them throughout their work on the dissertation.
- To assess student’s work and to provide formative feedback. Assessment will be done according to the choice made by the student (see below).
- To give the go-ahead to the student’s defense of the dissertation.
During this stage, students are expected to:
- Regularly communicate with supervisors (through the university email account).
- Regularly check the online platform (Aula Virtual) and keep up to date with all information posted: announcements by the Commission, documents, etc.
- To work on the dissertation following set guidelines and recommendations.
- To comply with deadlines (as per assessment choice).
- To follow the supervisor’s feedback and comments.
The Dissertation Commission (made of master’s teachers and coordinated by the master’s director) will be in charge of setting rules and procedures, ensuring compliance, setting the timing and work schedule, and solving potential problems. The Commission’s coordination work will be twofold:
- Student coordination: through notices published on the relevant online platform with important information and reminders of key issues.
- Supervisor coordination: through a relevant section on the online platform in order to ensure the implementation of common standards in the supervision and assessment process.
In order to link the dissertation to the professional skills included in the master’s curriculum, it is also related to the following courses: Didactics in the field of expertise, Introduction to research in education, and Innovation in teaching. To highlight the interdisciplinary character fo the dissertation the cross-cutting topic area is to develop an example of good practice. A good practice is understood as an innovative, original and transformative initiative to be implemented in the classroom. The initiative must fall under one of the following innovation areas:
- Use and implementation of active methodologies (see relevant document by the coordination team for the course Innovation in teaching).
- Use and implementation of shared and formative assessment method (see summary by the coordination team for the course Didactics in the field of expertise).
- Use and implementation of ICTs in the classroom.
- Proposals of interdisciplinary projects (requiring true coordination between different departments leading to meaningful, integrated, and functional learning).
- Design and implementation of initiatives based on the scientific method (see summary document by the coordination team for the course on Introduction to research in education).
The defence marks the end of the dissertation process. At the defence, the student must prove that the relevant skills have been acquired and that he is qualified to successfully work professionally.
To proceed with the defence, the student must have the supervisor’s approval, which does not imply nor ensure that the course will be passed.
The defence will be done through video conference and before a committee, which consists of one chairperson and two members, all of them teachers at the university.