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Community (noun): the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society.

The Community Research for Students (CRIS) initiative is new to UCL and is designed to offer an exciting new way to do postgraduate dissertations. CRIS connects not-for-profit organisations that work with the Union’s Volunteering Service with academic staff and master’s students who are keen to research a community need in the capital.

What can I gain out of this? 

It’s a win-win situation for all with each project being tailored to suit the requirements of the student, the supervisor and the community organisation. 

As a student doing a dissertation in this way will make you stand out from the crowd at the end of the year and help you in your future plans, whether they are continuing in academia or working in another sector. Unless your specific postgraduate programme offers this as part of the dissertation experience, this is the only way at UCL to work with different partners on your research dissertation.One student from 2018/19 even secured a job directly as a result of her experience on the CRIS programme and new-found skills!

You will  meet other like-minded students from a wide range of different masters programmes across UCL. This will broaden your network, both social and professional! 

How does it work? 

We’ll be here, every step of the way. It all starts with understanding your training needs and offering you a unique, bespoke training, rather like doctoral students are offered e.g. public engagement skills or strategies for managing collaborative work. These community research skills development learning sessions are only available to CRIS students considering a collaborative dissertation. We’ll work with you to help identify a community partner, initiate the first knowledge exchange together, provide materials to help you get the most out of these meetings, and even chair the first meeting all together once you get assigned a UCL dissertation supervisor. We’ll be working with you throughout your dissertation to monitor progress and ensure your research is kept right at the very centre of things.

Here’s the first CRIS graduate describing a step-by-step guide to their experience: 

What do others say?

Don’t just take our word for it! You can read below what our very first participants have said about their CRIS journey or look here for a series of short films where one student tells all, from why they did CRIS to what was difficult about it and what their community organisation partner did:

A master’s is like a series of fleeting interactions and CRIS is the one constant….it gave a sense of belonging” [Political Sciences student]

I really appreciate your guidance and feedback on my initial dissertation ideas, it was really great to better frame how CRIS could be an enriching way forward and walk through my ideas aloud.” [MSc Security Studies student]  

[CRIS] is turning what I assume would otherwise be dissertation dread into research excitement!” [MSc Public Policy student]

I knew I wanted to do research on behalf of a socially focused organisation for my masters dissertation, but before I came across CRIS I lacked the connections and inspiration. Straight after meeting with CRIS I felt energised to start my research. From the initial meeting they provided advice and connections based on my research interests and were very encouraging of my abilities as a researcher. I highly recommend the program.” [MSc Public Policy student]


Watch this brief video where Anne Laybourne, the CRIS manager, talks through the main things for you to do now to begin your CRIS journey!

Sign-up for more information about CRIS