AIMS Research Projects: Information for potential supervisors

AIMS Research Projects

Information for potential supervisors

Additional details on the projects

Projects should be of an appropriate scope to allow students to do the necessary reading, work, and writing in this time. The level of the project should be at the South African Structured Master’s degree level and in some cases may lead to further work which could grow into a more substantial research project leading to a Research Master’s degree or even towards a PhD degree. 

Students are not expected to do original work to achieve a passing grade. However, the criterion for an outstanding project is broadly that it could constitute the early part of a Research Master’s thesis. For example, it could be publishable, or form an outstanding introduction to the field for use by those wishing to enter it.

The recommended length of the research project is 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 years’ projects:

Expectations from supervisors (remote and local)

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!

A supervisor should not take an excessive number of students — typically at most three.

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. The student is expected to learn from the supervisor’s initial feedback with the assistance of the tutor (and in some cases the English and Communications Teacher). The supervisor is not expected to re-read previously corrected drafts; the student is expected to highlight any changes.

Supervisors are expected to email a brief, one paragraph, report to 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.

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.

For local supervisors

Supervisors who work in South Africa but outside the Western Cape are encouraged to make a short visit (typically one or two nights) for supervision and discussion. It is recommended that this be done within the first three weeks of the second half of the research period, when students have just completed courses and their background reading for the project. Experience has shown that this works best if AIMS coordinates arrangements: assisting with transport costs and accommodation in the AIMS building. If there is a local co-supervisor, this visit is not usually necessary. In exceptional circumstances the student may instead visit the supervisor; but then the cost of the student’s accommodation is expected to be met by the supervisor.

For the final examination, AIMS meets the cost of travel and accommodation (in the AIMS building). In exceptional circumstances the supervisor is unable to be present at the examination; then a replacement — usually local — is to be nominated and provided with questions and sketch answers.

How to submit a proposal

Academics and industry researchers are invited to propose topics to be taken under their supervision. In previous years we have had many excellent proposals, some of which were not selected by any students, only because of the wide choice. We encourage resubmission of previously unselected proposals, as well as the creation of new proposals.
To submit your project, please click on the link below that will direct you to a form. If you have any questions, please write to

AIMS relies on the contributions of lecturers and supervisors.

Thank you for your support.