Research Project Supervisor

Research Project Supervisor


The AIMS Master’s in Mathematical Sciences includes a research project, which makes up one third of the course. The intake is in August.

Proposal submissions for August intake close mid-February but are reviewed by AIMS staff members as they are submitted. The approved topics are made known to the students by mid-February at the latest, and students finalise their topic selection soon after.

Early interaction between students and supervisors often leads to the choice of topic being decided earlier, subject to approval by the AIMS-Cameroon Centre President or the Academic Director.

Students begin their research projects in February and submit their dissertations typically during the third week of May.

After submission, students have a week in which to prepare their oral defences in the first half of June and. These involve both external and internal examiners (including the supervisor).

Purpose of Research Project

The purpose of an AIMS research project is:

  • To give students the opportunity to work with an expert supervisor on a research project.
  • To go through the process of reviewing, understanding, and explaining scientific or mathematical material;
  • To optionally do experiments – on a computer or otherwise – and report the results;
  • To write a scientific report

The project contains a survey of literature and methods at the forefront of some topic appropriate for a student beginning research in Mathematical Sciences. It typically contains examples, perhaps by computation/simulation, and some independent work. Ideally the topic will prepare the student for a research MSc or Ph.D, or to follow a career in commerce, industry or the government sector.

The project phase lasts three months. Projects should be of an appropriate scope to allow students to do the necessary reading, work and writing in this time. The recommended length of the research project us between 25 to 35 pages, and it is emphasised that the project should not exceed this number of pages. As a guideline please review research projects in your field in the archive of previous year’s projects./

The proposal need only be one paragraph long. It should normally contain references of which at least one should be to a textbook, chapters from a textbook or a general review article. Further selected references to journal articles should be included where appropriate. The research project should be on a topic in the mathematical sciences and contain at least some parts that are formulated in terms of mathematics.

In the initial stages of the project students will still be taking courses. This is the time during which students are expected to complete background reading for their project. When courses finish they have six weeks to dedicate to the project: this is the time when interaction with the supervisor is most frequent (weekly is the norm), and when the work and writing up is done. Each student is assigned a tutor for support, however the tutor is not a co-supervisor.


Supervisors should be well versed in the field within which the project is proposed. They are expected to guide students in their research projects and to help clarify difficult concepts. A supervisor should not take an excessive number of students – typically at most three. Supervisors are advised to engage students in an email exchange before deciding on whom to accept for a project. Of course, students are given the same advice!

The supervisor is expected to be available during the three months of the research project, to guide the student and respond in a timely manner to queries and to comment on drafts.

In commenting on drafts, the supervisor is expected to clarify principles of exposition and grammar, but not necessarily to be responsible for detailed grammatical corrections throughout the report. That, the student is expected to learn from the supervisor’s initial feedback with the assistance of the tutor. The supervisor is not expected to re-read previously corrected drafts; the student is expected to highlight any changes.

The supervisor is also expected to be present for the examination, when the student gives a blackboard presentation of 15 to 20 minutes and thereafter responds to questions and discussion provided by the supervisor and other examiners. As soon as the exam timetable is being planned, each supervisor will be contacted to nominate three dates for the examination of the student. We endeavour to accommodate all requests.

Supervisors are expected to email a brief, one paragraph, report by the date at which students must submit their research reports. It should indicate the task originally set, how much independent work was done by the student and any special circumstances encountered during the project. It is designed to help the external and other examiners in evaluating the report, which they do before the oral examination. Supervisors (and examiners) are sent either a link to a downloadable version of the report or a printed copy, as desired.

AIMS relies on the contributions of lecturers and supervisors. Thank you for your support.