My dissertation by placement with Morecambe Bay Partnership - Kiera Benzie

Leaves on tree with sky behind

Hi! My name is Kiera, and I chose to do the Sociology 361 dissertation by placement in my final year at Lancaster University. I’ve always been interested in how academic research can contribute towards influential change within society and I felt that doing a dissertation alongside a placement would allow me to undertake research that can transform societal practice. In my case this was understanding barriers to and improving upon outdoor accessibility for those with disabilities and of a lower socio-economic background. (Also, completing your dissertation with an official organisation looks really good on your CV in gaining some work experience!)

Due to COVID-19, finding a placement was tricky for me, however, thanks to the help of my supervisor Bron, we managed to confirm a placement with Morecambe Bay Partnership, a local organisation who focus upon environmental conservation and heritage. After learning about their proposals for reaching more diverse audiences within their events and outdoor routes, I formed my research project that encompassed their proposal but focused upon my specific interests around disability and class.

I really enjoyed meeting the staff team at Morecambe Bay Partnership, and although online, I looked forward to meeting them on zoom every fortnight. We discussed my research, how they could help me with contacts and how I could help them through my academic knowledge. I almost felt like I was working a proper job!

I think my dissertation has really aided with my communication skills but also understanding the importance of the outdoors to so many people.

As I move on to complete a PGCE in secondary education, I think my confidence has grown in communicating with others and I will certainly be utilising the outdoors within my teaching methods and resources where possible. I’ve learned so much from this experience, particularly the value of listening and collaborating with others to make a real difference and change to actual practice, something that the standard dissertation doesn’t necessarily offer.

I would really recommend a dissertation by placement option. My best advice is to be adaptable and flexible within your research and organisation, but mostly importantly to have confidence within your own ideas and proposals because these organisations really value your input!

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