Helping international master’s students navigate dissertation supervision: Research-informed discussion and awareness-raising activities


  • Nigel Harwood University of Sheffield
  • Bojana Petrić Birkbeck College



dissertation writing, higher education, supervision, thesis writing, tutoring, academic support


Drawing on a longitudinal case study of supervisees’ and supervisors’ experiences of master’s dissertation supervision in a U.K. university, we identify prominent themes and use excerpts from our data to design pedagogic activities to use in workshops with staff and students focused on supervisory practice. The activities ask workshop attendees to consider experiential supervisory narratives involving students’ social networks, problems interpreting supervisors’ feedback, problems with differing supervisor–supervisee role expectations, and problems with supervisor–supervisee miscommunication. Each scenario is followed by our literature-informed commentary. We argue that these empirically informed, grounded awareness-raising activities will alert supervisors and supervisees to common problems experienced during supervisory journeys, and will encourage them to consider their own supervisory expectations and practices more deeply.

Author Biographies

Nigel Harwood, University of Sheffield

NIGEL HARWOOD, PhDis Reader in Applied Linguistics at the University of Sheffield, UK. His research interests include international students’ experiences with academic writing, citation analysis, and TESOL textbooks and teaching materials. He has published in various international journals across the disciplines of applied linguistics and higher education, including Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Second Language Writing, Written Communication, and Studies in Higher Education. He has edited volumes with CUP and Palgrave Macmillan, and is co-editor of the Elsevier journal English for Specific Purposes.

Bojana Petrić, Birkbeck College

BOJANA PETRIĆ, PhD, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published in the area of academic writing, particularly source use and citing, in journals such as the Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, and Written Communication. She serves as the Deputy Chair of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing and the Book Review Editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes.


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How to Cite

Harwood, N., & Petrić, B. (2019). Helping international master’s students navigate dissertation supervision: Research-informed discussion and awareness-raising activities. Journal of International Students, 9(1), 150–171.



Research Articles (English)