The Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

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Factsheet: Research Plan

Before the end of Term 3 in their second year, students expecting to register for HPSC3004 in the next session should make several decisions for this module. This factsheet describes what needs to be done.

HPSC3004 Moodle page (link).

planning the research project 

Three tasks need to be completed:

  1.  identify a project
  2.  secure a supervisor
  3.  confirm the completion of (1) and (2) with the module coordinator

For reasons described below, these tasks should be completed before the end of Term 3 of your second year. They must be completed by the end of the first week of lectures in Term 1 of your third year, when you'll be asked to submit a formal research plan via the HPSC3004 Moodle page (link).

You are strongly encouraged to do this much sooner than the due date, as this is the only way to secure a place with a particular supervisor. 

1. identify a project

The HPSC3004 project is meant to be a capstone to your degree. You'll be expected to undertake original work and synthesise that original work with ideas and skills developed thus far. 

You need to develop your project around a series of research questions that (a) you find interesting, (b) are do-able given available resources, and (c) are do-able within the scope of a one-course-unit module.

If you don't have ideas now, try several approaches: 

  •  talk with 3rd year students about their projects
  •  talk with staff about options
  •  consult lists of project ideas made by staff (link)
  •  think about what you want to be doing after you graduate - think about connections. If you want to pursue Law, for example, you might build a dissertation in that direction.
  •  read - look at current journals in the topics you find interesting or browse some of the local bookshops

Once you have a fair idea of what you might do, contact a member of staff who might supervise the project. They can help you shape your ideas - we're not going to do the work of project definition for you, however. Give us something to work with. 

You are not absolutely committed to the project you initially define. We expect you’ll spend time over the summer mulling over your ideas. Some adjusting in the Autumn is normal. But, this is no excuse for a half-baked idea at the start. Give it serious thought. Make it worth the amount of time you'll be spending on it. Make it something you'll be proud of. 

Steer your discussions about projects towards creating a one-page proposal of your plan for the dissertation. This proposal should include: 

  1.  a provisional title
  2.  the agreed supervisor
  3.  a statement of the research questions you want to ask and why these are important (about one paragraph in length)
  4.  a brief plan for the first few steps you intend to take as your project begins (about one paragraph in length)
  5.  a short list of readings (approximately 4-8 readings) you suspect will be helpful to start your project; perhaps these will be summer readings for you

This proposal is not assessed. However, it is required.

2. secure a supervisor

All 3004 projects must have a member of the STS teaching staff as supervisor. Other experts can be consulted. However, you must secure a supervisor within the department.

It's your job to secure a supervisor. The best way to make an initial approach is to send a draft of your proposal to a prospective supervisor, then make an appointment to discuss it with them.

When seeking a supervisor, be aware of staff availability. Sometimes staff have plans for research leave, sabbatical, and other activities. Also, staff are encouraged not to be overloaded, so they are allowed to decline requests once committed to an agreed number of supervisions already.

3. confirm the completion of (1) and (2)

Once you've secured a supervisor and agreed your proposal with them, do two things:

  1. ask your supervisor to e-mail their consent to supervise to the 3004 coordinator
  2. upload your research plan via the 3004 Moodle site

No supervision will be considered firmly agreed until the supervisor confirms this arrangement. This ensures everyone is on the same page. Ask your supervisor to copy you on their e-mail so you have confirmation, too.

The due date for uploading your research plan and securing a supervisor is the first Friday after Induction Week in your third year. 

Remember these key points:

  1. Each staff has a certain number of places for supervisions for the session. Places initially are available on a first-agreed, first-filled basis
  2. If you don't secure a supervisor by the deadline, one will be assigned. Once assigned, you may have a project given to you by the supervisor

other advice

The dissertation is your project, so take responsibility for managing it. During Induction Week of your third year seek out your supervisor and schedule your first tutorials. You must take the initiative.

Page last modified on 21 mar 13 12:09 by Joe Cain


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