Research degrees have been changing radically in the last twenty years, with an extensive body of work accumulated on improving the practice of research degrees and on developing skills for independent researchers. However, most of this work focuses on full-time residential research degrees, and little attention has been paid to part-time research degrees at a distance. This paper presents a novel research degree, the Virtual MPhil in Computing, offered by The Open University (UK), supported by a blend of technologies, and designed to address this gap. We discuss the support it provides for the development of student community, research dialogue and progress monitoring of distance research students
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