Navigating and Negotiating: student experience of a part-time postgraduate dementia studies programme.

Student thesis: Phd


The global challenge of dementia has highlighted the need for a skilled workforce. Specialists and leaders in dementia care are a key sector of this health and social care workforce and this staff group require advanced education and skills that are commonly delivered by higher education providers at postgraduate level. There is, however, an underdeveloped evidence base on the specific challenges this group of staff may experience when making a potentially difficult transition to postgraduate study. A deeper understanding of the experienced challenges and strategies employed by students is required to inform the development of supportive, and effective, postgraduate dementia care education. This thesis consists of four interlinked papers which, by design, have been sequenced into four phases of research with each phase represented by a published paper where I am first author. These phases are: i) a systematic review examining student experiences of part-time post-qualified accredited study for professionals in health and social care; ii) an electronic survey of graduates (n=31) who had completed the MSc in Dementia Care programme at the University of Manchester; iii) an interview based study of graduates (n=15) from the same programme; and iv) a further analysis of the data from the interview based study, adopting a case study approach to understand processes in which students engage with the challenges identified in the preceding three papers. Findings from the four papers are individually and collectively discussed in this thesis. They conclude that, whilst the MSc in Dementia Care programme was perceived as effective in equipping graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to influence practice, many experienced challenges connected with difficult transitions to becoming a postgraduate student. These transitions included feelings of self-doubt, fear of failure, problems of juggling multiple responsibilities, and variable levels of support from the workplace. The social processes of ‘navigating and negotiating the student journey’, first identified in Paper 4, are further explored in the thesis, culminating in a new conceptual overview of student experience on the MSc in Dementia Care that integrates the findings from all four papers at the heart of this thesis whilst retaining navigating and negotiating as the key social processes. The discovery and reporting of these social processes hold a wider relevance for postgraduate students on other courses and fields of study. With specific regard to postgraduate dementia education, a set of recommendations are made for supporting students. These recommendations encompass academic practice, policy and further research.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Keady (Supervisor)


  • student experience
  • postgraduate
  • education
  • dementia

Cite this