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Research project guidelines

Research Projects and potential supervisors

You may list one or more preferred supervisors on your application form, however this is not mandatory. If no supervisor is listed or your preferred supervisor is not available, we will do our best to assign you someone who is suitable to your background.

We do not need a specific research project to be outlined in the application form. If you are successful in your application, a research project will be agreed between you and your supervisor.

The research project title

Once a research project is agreed, the respective title will be registered with the Course Academic Committee as a ‘provisional working title’ for the student’s project. The provisional title can be changed to a ‘final title’ during the course of the project. At any time of the duration of the project, it is the students’ responsibility to inform the Course Director and the Course Administrator of changes in the title and subject of their project, in the form of a written statement, signed by their supervisor. Any unchanged provisional title will automatically receive the status ‘final title’.

Conduct of the research project

It is very important that the whole project is planned carefully and sufficient time allowed for each step of the research process, including writing up. During the course of their work, students may be expected to see their supervisors regularly (the frequency of the meetings depends partly on the nature of the dissertation selected) to receive feedback and advice on the design and implementation of their research projects and to receive critical comments on draft chapters of their dissertation.

It is the responsibility of students to make and maintain contact with their supervisors, to attend supervisions when requested to do so, and to keep demands on their supervisors reasonable. Supervisors cannot be expected to do the students’ work for them, or to respond instantly to requests for comments and advice. In particular students should agree dates for the completion of near final drafts so that time can be set aside in advance for reading and commenting on these.

It is the responsibility of supervisors to monitor their student’s work and ensure that it is progressing satisfactorily, to respond promptly to student’s requests for meetings, and to turn work around in a timely manner. A good relationship between students and supervisor is crucial to the success of the MPhil course and supervisors are asked to contact the Director of the course as a matter of urgency if they experience any problems in this respect.

Format of the research project dissertation

As per our Regulations in the Statutes & Ordinances, http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/so/pdfs/ordinance07.pdf, the dissertation should be of not more than 15,000 words in length (including tables, figure legends, and appendices, but excluding bibliography). It should be printed legibly on A4 paper, using one side of the paper only, in 12-point type, one and a half or double spaced and with margins of at least 2 cm. The dissertation title page should bear, at the top of the page, the author’s name, the approved title of the dissertation and the degree for which it is submitted. The supervisor’s name should appear at the bottom right hand corner of the page. All submitted copies must be at least soft bound. Candidates should take particular care to ensure that the correct version of the text appears in each copy of a dissertation submitted, that the title corresponds to that approved by the Degree Committee, and that an identical copy is retained for reference. A dissertation must be a connected account of an MPhil student’s work, written by himself/herself.

The dissertation should contain a literature survey which may be partly based on the written assignments, but it is expected that the majority of the dissertation will deal with the research actually performed during the research period. The form in which the dissertation is presented and the care with which it has been prepared and illustrated are in themselves evidence of the candidate’s capabilities and will receive consideration as such. Apart from quotations (where appropriate) and recognised technical formulae, theses must be written in English and candidates are expected to show a reasonable command of the English language, to use a spellcheck facility, and to check their work carefully before submission. In submitting a dissertation, each candidate must state, generally in a preface and specifically in notes or in a bibliography, the sources from which his or her information is derived, the extent to which the candidate has availed himself or herself of the work of others, and the portions of the dissertation which the student claims as his or her own original work. The following declaration of originality should appear on the page following the title page:

“This dissertation is substantially my own work and conforms to the University of Cambridge’s guidelines on plagiarism. Where reference has been made to other research this is acknowledged in the text and bibliography.”

In response to growing concerns over plagiarism in all University courses, each piece of submitted work must be accompanied by a standard cover sheet, including a signed declaration to the effect that the work is the student’s own unaided effort and meets the University’s guidelines and regulations on plagiarism which are outlined in Appendix C: Regulations on plagiarism.

Submission of the research project dissertation

The submission deadline for dissertation is 23 August 2019 and any candidate who fails to meet this deadline without advance permission from the Course Directors will normally be awarded no marks for the research project and will fail the entire MPhil degree. Permission to defer submission will be granted only in exceptional cases, and candidates are asked to note in particular that computer-related problems will not normally be considered as grounds for deferral. Any application to defer submission must be made in writing to the Course Director in advance of the deadline and must be accompanied by supporting letters from the candidate’s College Tutor and Supervisor. Except in the case of genuinely unforeseeable emergencies, applications to defer submission will only be considered if they are received at least one week before the deadline.

Each candidate is required to submit two soft-bound copies of the dissertation, together with a completed Certificate of Dissertation Submission, and one electronic version.

Posters

In the interim period between submitting their dissertation and the viva voce examination, the students have to prepare a poster as if they were to present their research to a conference. The students have to give a 10 minute presentation of their poster at the start of their viva.  Poster files are to be submitted to the CSC Admin office at least 2 days before the students' viva, so they can be printed on A2 portrait style.