The Foundation Experience: Research Project

This blog entry focuses on Gulay Firatli, a Politics and International Relations student, who reflects on the experiences of completing an extended research project whilst studying at the Foundation Centre. 

As a former Foundation Centre student I would like to share my extended research project experience with prospective students, my peers, staff, and for those curious about what the foundation year and extended project module are like.

I remember the anxious glances I exchanged with a few other friends that I was sharing the table with when we were first introduced to the project at the end of the first semester. I cannot lie that it was frightening at first. I was supposed to write 5,000 words in total about a topic that I must decide on my own. That was a gigantic amount for me. I thought that I was not ready. But how could I feel that I was ready? It was only the first term that I ever had experience at a university level institution and time was flying by without me noticing; I was not aware of the progress I had already made in the first term.

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So, the first task was to come up with a topic and narrow it down. My progression route is Politics and International Relations, therefore I was interested in doing research about international organisations. I surfed the web finding information on various International Organisations and their on- going projects. After weeks of shedding cold sweat, I finally felt attached to a project about the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). My original idea was to examine Russia according to the MDGs. I thought that it might be compelling to research: a discussion which examines the social and economic progress of Russia according to the Millennium Development Goals after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a communist state. I did some research about what the MDGs aim to achieve and I realised that I enjoyed working and reading around this subject. However, as I read more, something else attracted my attention, a very contemporary question: are the targets of the MDGs realistic and attainable by 2015? This controversial question, I decided, would be more interesting to research. I wanted to find my own position on the matter because this project of the UN is being carried out by all under-developed and developing countries of the world which broadened my topic considerably.

After months of note-taking and then finally deciding on my position, at last I felt that I was ready to go on and write. It was not easy. I remember writing the introduction several times and deleting it. I could not take any chances because this project was big and I really wanted to do well. But once I had established a basis in the introduction, the following parts literally flowed. My paragraphs were already planned with details of what was going to be included in each part. I felt confident while following my plan, turning my little notes in the plan into chunky paragraphs. I was confident while writing and enjoyed it deeply.

When I was done, it felt so good. I read it over and over again, editing some parts or excluding some others for a better presentation of my work. No one should ever rush on deciding the subject. You must truly be confident and interested in your topic. Otherwise, it will probably not work. The reason I believe that I was successful is because I did not rush. The researching and note taking part was much more involved than writing the 5,000 words.

The most important thing I can say about the extended project is that it mirrors you: it’s about you and your ideas. I am so happy that I had this chance to experience working and learn on my own. I was not only challenged by the Foundation Centre but I also had the opportunity to deploy what I was taught for the whole year in the project. I believe that I have acquired a foundation that prepared me well, both in psychological and educational terms.

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