Starting your FYP
Finding a Topic
In many cases, you will find your topic through the examples on the website. Sometimes you might be able to take these proposals as inspiration for a similar topic and find a supervisor who agrees to take that on. Many topics are very open, you will need to narrow it down to something that really interests you and is manageable in consultation with your supervisor.
During the initial stages of selecting a research area, you may find it helpful to think about the modules and topics that you have enjoyed studying in the past, and which you would like to find out more about. Similarly, you might think about the different methods and approaches that you have been introduced to, and try to see if they could be applied to a new topic. Since you will spend about a year working on your FYP, it is crucial to select a topic that will sustain your interest
Once you have a rough idea about a possible topic, you should seek out a supervisor. This is your responsibility, and it is important that you make it a priority, as faculty are only able to supervise a limited number of FYPs. Once you arrange supervision, you should discuss how to go about your project, and which methods and approaches are suitable.
What to expect from your supervisor
Your supervisor is someone who is interested in your progress and in your work. You are responsible for setting up meetings, and in some cases there may be arrangements through your supervisor for joint meetings with other students. Please do not expect your supervisor to be available immediately and drop everything he/she is doing in order to read your draft the day before the deadline – arrange to meet at reasonable intervals during office hours and allow some time before you expect feedback. Do discuss milestones and timelines with your supervisor and stick to them. Your supervisor will be happy to be there for advice and consultation – but it is your work, your writing and your FYP.
The Project Brief
In Week 6 of the Spring Semester, you will need to submit a 500 word project brief to the department office via email for your degree programme. This piece of writing should be product of your initial discussions with your supervisor. In most cases, the project brief will describe the topic that you plan to investigate, the research question(s) that you intend to answer, and the source(s) and method(s) that you intend to use.
The Progress Report
In Week 12 of the Spring Semester, you will need to submit a 2000 word progress report to the department office for your degree programme. You should discuss what to include with your supervisor, as requirements vary by discipline. In many cases, the progress report will include your research question; a detailed chapter breakdown; a research plan and anticipated timeline; an annotated bibliography or literature review; and a description of your anticipated research method.
Key milestones during the initial phases of research
- Select your topic
- Make supervision arrangements
- Identify your research question(s)
- Submit your ‘Project Brief’
- Submit your ‘Progress Report’
By the end of your third year, you should have settled on your research question(s) and have a clear plan in place about how you are going to research and complete your FYP.
Advice from past FYP students
“Choose a topic that interests you and one that you are excited about. The FYP goes on for over a year and also crosses over exams and the associated stress. At the end of the project you will grow tired of the topic, imagine what it would be like if you were working on a topic that didn’t interest you!”
“Start outlining your chapters as early as possible.”
“Decide on an organising principle, in other words, what does the project hope to achieve?”
“Keep a close relationship with your supervisor, don’t put off meeting with him/her.”