R1.A1 Research Design

Course requirements

In  order to participate in this course, you must:

  • have at least 6, and at most 14 months of experience as a PhD candidate
  • timely complete all the required assignments (which require in total approx. 15 hours)
  • to be able to arrive right on time and complete all sessions of the course

Please note that if you, due to circumstances within your own control, do not complete the assignments or arrive late/miss a session you may be asked to leave the course. Should this happen, your department may be required to pay the cost price of this course.

Course description

The greatest challenge of the first year of a PhD project at a technical university is to find out whether, and if so, how it combines aspects of scientific research and of engineering design. Regarding the first, the research question must be formulated and the key variables of the research must be identified. It should become clear what kind of data have to be gathered and how the results will be processed to answer the research question. With regard to the design aspects of the project, the design problem and the design brief must be systematically explicated. Moreover, to solve the design problem the doctoral candidates should make a host of choices about the working principle and what prototype to develop. Finally, it should be made clear whether the research and design aspects of the project are related symmetrically, where both are equally important, or asymmetrically where one serves the other. 

The workshop focuses on the following themes:

  • Differentiating between different types of research (quantitative vs. qualitative), design and their interlinking;
  • Formulation of research questions and design problem;
  • Identification and operationalization of key-variables and constraint in the design brief.



Learning objectives

The participants of this course develop the skill to identify and formulate within an engineering research project, the main research question, the design problem and to determine an adequate design brief. Moreover, they learn to decide what method to follow to achieve their research and design goals, and they acquire insight in how various research projects are situated. The deliverable of this course is a presentation of an outline of the engineering research, or design that can be part of the PhD student’s research project.

Teaching Methods

The workshops use the following format:
•    Short introductions to the themes and the projects of the participants;
•    Plenary and group presentations of the research question or design problem, key variables or design brief, hypothesis or prototype/working principle, method;
•    Providing and processing feedback.

Course Enrolment

Course registration of Graduate School Doctoral Education (GS DE) courses is via Brightspace.

·         See this link for more information.