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Work Based Research Projects

Will I have to do a Work-Based Research Project?

In order to obtain a Master or Doctoral level qualification, including MSc, MRes, or a Professional Doctorate, you will need to complete a research project. These qualifications recognise your academic skill level, and research is a fundamental component of that. If your aim is to complete one of these programmes, then it’s time to start thinking about the question(s) that your research project might address!

How will I Develop my Research Skills and Ideas?

We have a dedicated Research Methods Distance Learning Module that is compulsory for any student wishing to complete an MSc, MRes, or Professional Doctorate. The module will help to prepare you for the project by taking you through the process of arriving at a suitable research question, designing data collection methods, analysing your results, and writing the final report. This module runs three times a year and is essential for anyone undertaking a research project. It can be taken any time before you start your research but is usually taken as your final taught module. You should aim to identify a topic/broad question that is of interest to you before commencing this module.

Many students appreciate the benefits of undertaking a research project that is closely aligned to their work. If this is appealing to you, and you are working within a relevant sector, then it will be crucial that your employer is supportive of both the research aims and the time commitment required.

The priority of any academic research project is the development of your research skills, and the demonstration of your ability to apply them. To that end, all research projects must also be fully justified, scientifically. However, embedding the research project within your workplace can often provide potential opportunities for innovation, and to tackle applied questions that may be of additional commercial interest. We would recommend talking through your ideas with your employer and tutor as soon as you are able to.

What if I'm not currently working in the Agri-food sector?

If you are not employed in a relevant sector, you still have plenty of options. It’s a great opportunity to investigate a question within a topic that is of personal interest, but you can also choose a topic from those advertised by academics at the university. Both Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities can host a limited number of students carrying out relevant research projects. These topics are aimed at MRes, but if you are struggling for an MSc research idea, it may still be worth having a look. You could also consider a desk-based dissertation or systematic review. Contact the BioInnovation Wales team for more information.

How much work is a Dissertation?

Two dissertation routes available through this programme:

  • 60 Credit Dissertation – this forms the research component of the Masters (MSc). It will normally be 12,000 – 15,000 words in length, with a maximum of 20,000 words. Part-time students should expect to complete their dissertation within a year.
  • 120 Credit Dissertation – Currently approximately 20,000 words (and up to 40,000 words) in length [we are in the process of amending our regulations to allow submission in the form of a research paper that could be submitted to an academic journal], this forms the bulk of the Research Masters (MRes) and is the ‘short thesis’ component of the Professional Doctorate. We anticipate that most part-time students will take two years to complete their MRes dissertation.

What Sort of Activities will I Carry Out in the Research Project?

All research projects involve a detailed review of the academic literature in your discipline to enable you to identify a research question that responds to a ‘gap in knowledge’ that your project can address. You will then design an appropriate strategy to find an answer to that question and identify appropriate methods to both collect data and analyse it. Both dissertations build on the research proposal that you will develop during the Research Methods module, and you will get structured academic support from a subject-specialist supervisor. The main milestones within both types of dissertations are:

  • Further development of your research proposal.
  • Deeper development of your literature review.
  • Carrying out your research competently and effectively.
  • Evaluating your results using appropriate analytical techniques.
  • Presenting and discussing your findings.
  • Producing a learned report of the investigation in the form of a dissertation in accordance with the University’s guidelines.