Five tips for securing the MSc research project of your choice

ProfessorSevketDurucan Faculty of Engineering, Department of Earth Science & Engineering Professor of Mining and Environmental Engineering 2019 geology, mining, ore, researchers

Written by Vedashree Chandewar, taught postgraduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. (MSc Environmental Engineering 2022-2023)

The research project is a pivotal milestone in your MSc degree at Imperial. It holds the potential to shape your career trajectory. While some students discover their passion for a PhD, others land their dream job through industrial collaboration during their project. Either way, the research project can be incredibly rewarding if you are enthusiastic about it. With this motivation, this blog aims to provide you with five essential tips to navigate the selection process and secure a project that truly excites you.

  1. Research options

Imperial College is a hub of groundbreaking research happening across diverse disciplines. Take advantage of this academic ecosystem by exploring the ongoing research projects within your department. Departments share a list of potential projects for students to choose from, but don’t limit yourself. Students are encouraged to propose and pursue their own topic of interest as well.

  1. Know yourself

Discovering what inspires you is key to choosing the right project. If you already have a problem statement that is feasible within the time frame of an MSc project (typically three months), then go for it! However, if you are unsure of what you want, reflect on your academic interests and compile a list of topics that ignite your curiosity. Consider the type of work you are comfortable with: Analytical, Computational, Design, Desk Study, Experimental, Field Work, or Theoretical. Align this with career goals and voila! Your shortlist of potential themes is ready.

  1. Network, engage, and excel.

After the list of potential projects is released by the department, supervisors conduct a briefing  about their projects. Be sure to attend these sessions and show genuine interest by interacting with the supervisors and any industry representatives. Engage with all the stakeholders and discuss any concerns you might have regarding your topics of choice. Reading beforehand helps in formulating more relevant questions. It shows preparedness and leaves a lasting impression on the advisors.

  1. Improvise, adapt, overcome

Once you have sorted your preferences, it’s time to leave your mark. Meet the project supervisor and discuss your vision for the project. This personal interaction offers greater insight into the project and helps you manage your expectations with the scope of the project. Be open minded: after this discussion, you may realise that the project scope is different from what you anticipated. In that case, you can back off before officially committing to a topic, and you can look for alternative subjects that truly resonate with you.

  1. Craft a compelling proposal

Finally, be sure to send the supervisor(s) an email or cover letter to formally register your interest. In this proposal, clearly articulate your objectives for the project and highlight what truly inspired you. Demonstrate your knowledge of the subject matter and emphasize how your research will contribute to the field. Remember, the MSc dissertation can be tedious; hence, conviction and dedication of the candidate often outweigh any prior experience in the subject.

Securing the MSc research project of your choice at Imperial College demands proactive effort and self-awareness. By matching your inspiration with aspirations, you can unlock the transformative potential of your scientific abilities. Best of luck and happy researching!

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