Bologna's masterstroke

October 16, 2008

You report that "across continental Europe, the masters is a research-intensive course aimed at preparing students for a PhD and a career in academia" ("The long and the short of it", 2 October). This is far from being the case, and the Bologna Process has in fact given additional momentum to the opposite trend.

You need not go far to find examples of this, with the clearest one being just across the Channel. With the implementation of the Bologna Process in France, a clear distinction has been introduced between the master recherche, which includes a dissertation and prepares a person for doctoral studies, and the master professionel, which typically requires an internship instead of a dissertation and provides an explicitly work-related specialisation.

It goes without saying that students enrolling on the latter type vastly outnumber those taking the former. The widespread introduction of the research-track masters in this country - which is sometimes called MRes and is strongly encouraged by the research councils - goes in the same direction. So what you have is a broad convergence across Europe rather than a divide between the UK and the Continent.

Paolo Dardanelli, University of Kent.

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