Choosing a research topic and finding a supervisor

How you go about selecting a topic for a research degree and then shaping it into a specific proposal will vary depending on your discipline.

Science and Life Sciences research topics

Many research students in the Science and Life Sciences are recruited to work on specific projects which their supervisors have already formulated, at least at a general level. Even where this is the case, you are expected to take ownership of the project and shape it so that you make an independent, and usually original, contribution to the research.

Arts, Humanities, Social Science and Business research topics

In the non-science faculties, prospective research students usually apply to work on a topic of their own choosing. Whatever your area of interest, it is important to choose a topic that can be addressed within the appropriate timescale and with the resources that are likely to be available to you.

Finding the right School or Department for you

Once you have a suitable research topic in mind, you will need to identify the most appropriate academic School or Department that could support your area of research. All School and Departments have dedicated web pages that describe their main areas of research focus. There are also pages that describe our cross-School multidisciplinary research priorities.

Pay us a visit

Another option is to attend one of our Postgraduate Open Days, where you will not only find out more about the University, but will also be able to meet staff from our Schools and Departments and discuss your ideas.

Many Schools and Departments run their own visit days and details of these events will usually be availalbe on their web pages.

Making contact

Once you have identified a School or Department you should contact the named Director of Postgraduate Research Studies. This person will talk to you about your ideas, and the process of applying and studying for a research degree at Reading. They can also put you in touch with one or more members of staff who might act as supervisors.

In a small number of cases you may be told that the University is not able to support a research degree in your particular area of interest. Clearly it would be unfair to accept research students if we are unable to provide the necessary facilities and supervision.


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