Common Core I: Research Project Management

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Doctoral School

Module overview

This module will address essential research skills that all SOAS PhD students need to develop regardless of their disciplines. Students will work collectively and individually through ten key topics of how to design and manage a successful research project, laying a strong foundation for their theses and research careers. All new students will complete this module as part of their required training before the MPhil-to-PhD upgrade.

The module will be delivered in a blended mode. Full content will be housed and accessible on BLE in order to accommodate the extremely diverse backgrounds and working patterns of PGR students. Each topic (listed in the syllabus below) will be covered through a triad of a Unit Description , Resources , and Activities . These online resources and activities will be accompanied and enhanced by a series of regular offline sessions.

In order to pass the module and obtain its 30 credits, students will need to complete all online activities whereas offline attendance will be optional.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Formulate research questions that are specific, answerable, and relevant
  • Critically evaluate and synthesise material from different sources
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of two or more possible research methods and determine which is the most suitable course of action for their research questions and aims
  • Understand the importance of ethics and integrity in research
  • Understand the importance of the wellbeing of the research participants and the researcher
  • Communicate research processes and outcomes to various academic and non-academic audiences
  • Apply the principles and good practices of research project management to their own work


The module will consist of both offline classes and online provision. Students will generally have 2 hours of classes/workshops a week and 6 hours of online provision.

The offline classes' hours will be replaced by independent study hours for students not based at SOAS.

Scope and syllabus

  1. PhD requirements, expectations, and support
  2. Research ethics, integrity, and governance
  3. Defining the scope of research and formulating research questions
  4. Advanced literature searches and reviews
  5. Copyright, referencing, and reference management
  6. Working with feedback
  7. Time management and self-care
  8. Preparing for fieldwork: visas, safety, and security
  9. Data management planning
  10. Open scholarship and public engagement

Method of assessment

  • Participation in all interactive exercises on the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (20%)
  • A 5,000-word Research Project Canvas (80%)

Suggested reading

  • Dunleavy, P. (2003). Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Eco, U. (2015). How to Write a Thesis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2006). They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. London: W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Kelly, F. J. (2016). The Idea of the PhD: The Doctorate in the Twenty-First-Century Imagination. London: Routledge.
  • Zerubavel, E. (1999). The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules