IBERS Distance Learning Logo

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?

The Research Methods Distance Learning Module is compulsory for any student wishing to complete an MSc, MRes or Professional Doctorate. This module runs three times a year and is essential for anyone undertaking a work-based research project. It can be taken any time before you start your research but is usually taken as the last taught module. Most students will already have an idea of the research that they would like to carry out before commencing this module. If you are stuck for an idea, you might want to look at some of the ideas that IBERS' researchers have put forward.

If you are already employed in a relevant sector, you will want to undertake research which is closely aligned to your work and it is crucial that your employer is supportive of both the research aims and the time commitment your proposed research will involve. Whilst the academic focus will be on your completion of an advanced piece of research, embedding this research within your place of work will provide potential opportunities for innovation within your workplace. We would recommend talking through your ideas with your employer and tutor as soon as you are able to.

If you are not employed in a relevant sector, you may want to complete a desk-based dissertation or to carry out research.

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 in a year.

  • 120 Credit Dissertation - this forms the research component of the MRes and is intended to provide both meaningful research for the industry, and for Professional Doctorate candidates, a solid foundation for the longer Part II thesis. We anticipate that most part-time students will take two years to complete their MRes dissertation.The assessment of this research project is composed of two parts (A&B). Part A is the ‘thesis’ (not more than 8,500 words) which should be presented for assessment in the form of a research paper (guidance provided) of an appropriate scientific journal as agreed with your academic supervisor. This part is worth 90% of the overall marks. Part B is a recorded presentation of the project, lasting not more than 12 minutes. This part is worth the remaining 10% of the overall marks.

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 efficiently
  • Evaluating your results using appropriate statistical analyses
  • Presenting and discussing your findings
  • Producing a learned report of the investigation in the form of a dissertation in accordance with University guidelines
Seke Kazuru

For his MRes research project, Seke is using high tech methods to dissect the genetics and morphological characteristics of some of Malawi’s local maize landraces. His aim is to reduce the growth of aflatoxin-producing fungi in the crop. Aflatoxins are particularly harmful to children causing stunted growth, delayed development, liver damage, and liver cancer. Seke says: This research is important as it will inform maize breeders and researchers what to consider in breeding maize varieties to enhance the future health of the population.

Downloadable Resources

Research Proposal Form Brochure