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Netflix and learn: new streaming style channel piloted to help students with dissertations

Two Newcastle University Business School (NUBS) academics have developed a pilot of a ‘Netflix style’ video channel to help students learn how to approach, plan and write their dissertation.

29 November 2021

Two Newcastle University Business School (NUBS) academics have developed a pilot of a Netflix style video channel to help students learn how to approach, plan and write their dissertation.


For this joint project, Dr Klara Scheurenbrand, Lecturer in Marketing and Dr Robin Pesch, Senior Lecturer in International Management and Degree Programme Director for International Business Management (UG) developed the idea in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The move to online teaching inspired the pair to be more creative with the content they were sharing with their students. With both lecturers working on the undergraduate dissertation module, their discussions sparked new ideas on how to make the heavy and complex lessons more engaging and easier to digest.   


A screenshot from the pilot video: three people sit around a table having a discussion

Engaging a digital generation

 Understanding their students’ interest in digital platforms and technology was key. Klara and Robin wanted to create something that appealed to a generation known for their ‘quick thumb’ judgement. 

They began experimenting with different formats such as videos in the style of Instagram reels and YouTube vlogs. They transformed their combined ideas into a more professional format: a dedicated channel treating the various stages of the dissertation lifecycle. The idea for the ‘Netflix style’ dissertation channel was born. 

Developing the pilot 

Their ambition is to create seven seasons and 35 episodes, but they were steered towards starting with a pilot season. They received funding from the School’s Digital Innovation Fund to support the project.  

“We had already made our mind up about which topic should be the focus of our pilot. ‘How to write a literature review’ was our baby from the beginning and unintentionally, we had been scripting the storyboard all along.” Commented Dr Klara Scheurenbrand.  

With this topic in mind, they developed the idea of zooming in and out of academic debates playing with a 'table' metaphor that transformed into the 'city' narrative, which guides the video today.  

Although talented in many fields, both academics did not have the skills to create the animated videos they’d envisaged. After approaching several companies, they managed to develop a relationship with Autumn Song Productions who transformed their idea into reality.  

Robin and Klara made the videos purposely inclusive to allow students to 'see themselves' in them. Dr Robin Pesch explained: “We chose ethnically neutral faces to guarantee an 'everybody' approach to emphasise a variety in gender and skin colour of the characters seen in the video.” 

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Simplifying a confusing topic

Robin has already been using the pilot in his International Business Management Dissertations module with undergraduate NUBS students. Through a survey used to evaluate the video, the students shared glowing feedback on the new approach.

That is superb. Beautifully explained. Multi-disciplinary in its explanation, and clear and memorable graphics. I shall never think the same way about a lit review again.

Senior Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University, Dr Paul Fleet

Comments included: 

  • "Simplified a confusing topic.“ 
  • "Was engaging and fun to watch.“ 
  • "The video communicated clearly how to write a literature review.“ 

Klara and Robin have high hopes for the future of their channel. Klara said: “We hope this pilot project will yield future success as we would love to continue working on our bigger plans behind this single video to build a Netflix dissertation channel.”

The dissertation channel is a great example of a successful collaboration between subject groups. Robin (Leaderships, Work and Organisations) and Klara (Marketing, Operations and Systems) equally contributed to the project.