BERA Masters Dissertation Award

Every year BERA recognises academic excellence and rigour in research by a Master of Education student. This underscores BERA’s commitment to developing capacity, advancing quality and methodological originality within the field of educational research. 

Eligibility Criteria

  • The applicant should be a fully paid up members of BERA at the time of nominations.
  • The institution at which the student submitted their dissertation should have confirmed the degree awarded by 31st December 2018; i.e this award is awarded to education students who have completed their masters in the previous year (2018).


  • £500
  • A 1,000 word double page spread to be featured in Research Intelligence.
  • A complimentary registration at BERA Conference 2019.
  • A BERA Blog


Nominations will be scored by a BERA selection panel. The panel’s judgement will be framed by the following criteria:

  • Research quality, including rigour, transparency and validity
  • New area of research
  • Methodological originality
  • Significant conceptual or theoretical contribution to its field
  • (Potential) impact for policy-makers, practitioners and other research users


2019 AWARD

The 2019 Winner of the BERA Masters Dissertation Award is Joyce Kim (University of Cambridge for her thesis Contested Cosmopolitanisms: A Comparative Case Study of Student Experiences and Identities Within Internationalizing South Korean Universities

The abstract for her thesis is below:

In this dissertation, I apply a theory of cosmopolitanism to understand the experiences and identities of students in South Korean universities that are affected by internationalization policies in service of the global knowledge economy. I employ a comparative case study approach, which involves 34 semi-structured interviews, critical discourse analysis of university-affiliated documents, and archival research of South Korean government education policy across three internationalizing South Korean universities. Based on my analysis, I argue that cosmopolitanism manifests in student identities in ways that are contested and variegated and relate to the unexpected consequences of these internationalization policies. Findings of this dissertation challenge existing literature on the relationship between global processes and higher education that largely center around research using discourse of globalization and internationalization. Although such research has made valuable contributions, my findings suggest that cosmopolitanism shows theoretical potential in critically examining the role of universities as centers of knowledge production in the wake of a world affected by global processes.


Highly Commended:

Ashley Elkington, (University of Oxford) for Incorporating faded worked-examples into the mathematics classroom: exploring gender and socioeconomic effects with two Grade 9 groups from South Africa.

Zoe Parsons, (Oxford Brookes University) for Implementing a Morphological Approach to Spelling in the Classroom:
an Investigation into Teacher Experience and Effect on Children’s Writing.


2018 Award

The 2018 Winner of the BERA Masters Dissertation Award is Helen Manley (Oxford Brookes University) for her dissertation: School-based counselling interventions for the reduction of anxiety in primary school children: a systematic review 


The abstract for her dissertation is below:

One in ten young people between the ages of 5 and 15 have a clinically-diagnosable mental health condition. The most common of these conditions is anxiety. Despite these high numbers, funding cuts severely limit the support available to schools from specialist mental health services. Many schools thus recognise the need to provide more ‘in-house’ support for children who have been identified as anxious. Many schools are considering school-based counselling (SBC) as a potential solution. An apparent paucity of research on SBC, specifically targeted at primary school-aged children, leaves considerable uncertainty about whether this is an effective course of action for those schools.

This systematic review located, appraised and synthesised empirical research, published in peer reviewed journals between 2000 and 2017, on the effects of SBC for primary school-aged children with anxiety. The aim of the review was to investigate the extent and nature of existing research, and if possible, to determine the extent to which SBC is an effective approach to anxiety reduction in this population. Systematic searches of nine electronic databases were carried out in July 2017, yielding eight studies that met the inclusion criteria for the review.

Narrative synthesis of the findings indicates that SBC interventions are associated with reductions in anxiety in primary school children. However, the extent to which these reductions are meaningfully different to alternatives, such as reading stories to children, is not clear.

This systematic review also illustrates that research into SBC for children with anxiety in primary school is still limited, both in terms of its geographical focus and its propensity towards cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) at the apparent expense of other approaches. More importantly, it highlights the paucity of research studies in this area that use robust designs for causal inference: half of the included studies did not include a comparison group of any sort. Implications of these findings, both for schools and future research are discussed and recommendations to address identified gaps in current knowledge are presented. 


Highly commended

Petra Vackova (The Open University), Social Inclusion in and around Visual Arts Activities: Epistemic Practices in a Preschool Context.

Oliver Gill (UCL-Institute of Education), Autonomy, Accountability and Competition in National Education Systems: a configurational comparative analysis of the evolution of New Public Management across OECD countries.


2017 Award

The 2017 Winner of the BERA Masters Dissertation Award is Jonathan S James (UCL Institute of Education ) for his dissertation: Civil disorder, domestic terrorism, and education policy







The abstract for his dissertation is below:

“This dissertation seeks to identify the ways in which occurrences of Islamic terrorism and outbreaks of civil disorder have impacted on approaches to migrant incorporation and education policy in England and France. Since 2001, England and France have experienced outbreaks of rioting in which young people of immigrant origin have been implicated. Both have also been the target of Islamic terrorist attacks committed by their own citizens. The two countries have had similar experiences of immigration since the Second World War, but are considered to have taken divergent approaches to migrant incorporation. Whilst Britain has tended towards a ‘multicultural race relations’ model, France has tended towards an assimilationist Republican model. Through the analysis of policy discourse, policy documents, and secondary sources, this dissertation seeks to establish whether, given the common challenges faced by the two countries, these distinct approaches to migrant incorporation have been maintained. It finds that the policy traditions continue to frame political discourse and feed into the policy response. At the same time, commonalities in the challenges faced, as well as processes at super-national level appear to have led to convergence in some areas.”