Third Year Project: Practically Getting Pregnant
As a discrete maths student, one of the core modules this year is the third year project. Spanning over the summer, the entirety of Term 1 and 2 and both Christmas and Easter break, this project is the arguably the biggest nine month commitment you’re ever going to have (including pregnancy- as far as I know babies don’t contribute 15% to your degree and are probably less stressful too).
After going MIA for April because I was too busy writing the 21,000 words that made up my final report (hellooo RSI), I’m back to blogging, and this blog (and the next one too) is generally about the process of how the third year project went for me.
The first thing I had to do, about a year ago now, was decide on a topic. Like every couple looking to start a family (I like this metaphor and I am going to stick with it), it was important to consider the options before making any big decision.
I completely drew a blank for weeks as to what my project could possibly be about- I felt pretty underqualified in the computer science department to make anything particularly fancy, and didn’t like any one topic within maths enough to commit to a whole project on it and so I was at a bit of a loss.
What I did at this point was arranged to meet with a member of staff to spitball some ideas. I came away from this meeting not only knowing what my project was going to be about, but also having a general idea of how I would do it, and having someone agree to be my supervisor. You could say it was a pretty successful hour.
The advice I would give to someone trying to decide on a project idea is this:
- Talk to someone about any ideas you might have (friends, family, staff members, coursemates, basically anyone who will listen) and see what they think- they might touch on that one spark that really gets you going.
- If you don’t have any ideas (like me this time last year), have general conversations about the world around you and see if you make a breakthrough! Anything from things that interest you that you might want to investigate, to problems you’ve encountered that you might like to solve are all valid avenues for your project to take. My project idea came from a conversation about politics on Facebook, it only takes one little thing to get your imagination going.
- Try not to settle for something just because it’s ‘an idea’. Start thinking about it early and keep thinking about it until you find something you’re genuinely interested in. The one thing I definitely noticed about this year is generally those who really enjoyed their projects found them a lot easier to finish (me included).
- Find a supervisor who knows what you’re talking about! My supervisor was the closest you can get to an expert in Twitter within DCS, and having someone who understood what I wanted to do and knew how to support me was invaluable. This also links back to what I said about starting early- the earlier you come up with an idea you like, the more likely you are to be able to work with the best suited member of staff before they are already taken by other students.
Not to stress anyone out, but picking a good topic for your project is kind of the most important thing. I know that I would have really struggled with my project if it hadn’t been for the fact it was on a topic that I actually found interesting. The times throughout the year where I struggled the most (and, I’ll admit, started to hate it entirely) were when I lost touch with the broader picture and forgot why I picked the topic in the first place. Now though, having written thousands of words about social media and politics and still not hating the name Donald Trump (more than I already did) is testament to the fact I picked well.
Pick something you find interesting! Please! I beg you! You will thank yourself later!