I have the following doubts:
• I have a high level understanding of the subject (through reading etc) and I want to learn more about it. How would a research programme help me learn something that I don’t know much about?
In research you formulate a research topic – and then do a lot of background work to be up to date with state of the art knowledge in that area. Say the topic is to do with the ‘methodology of eco-redesign’. You would go into this area and investigate the state of the art in terms of the tools that are currently used. You would go the Centre for Design at RMIT where they have a very progressive take on what is happening. Or have Chris Ryan (and adjunct prof with Industrial D) as one of your supervisors. You would then set up a simulation – possibly with an industry partner – and develop your own tool kit. With India in focus you may wish to spend your masters developing a full tool kit to be deployed in the professional context in India.
• Isn’t it true that before doing research on any specific topic, one should have some basic knowledge about the subject in general? I wish to first have some basic knowledge about my topic (ecodesign) and only then go into research.
Not really. The reserach project would require you to have a strong case for doing the project – that is your proposal – and the project itself can include the objective of your developing your capability.
• What is the minimum knowledge that I need to have about the subject before joining the research course?
As above not a lot. Knowledge in design is usually not from books, but from an intimate knowledge of ‘practice’. And as such being located in Melbourne you stand a good chance to see a diverse range of design practices and methodologies deployed. You may for example wish to be closely tied to Product Ecology (http://www.productecology.com.au/) or study their practices. John teaches in the program and could be one of your resource people.
• How do I select the research topic without or even before having in-depth knowledge about the subject?
Here is how you select the research topic: (1) List your objectives for doing a masters by research, (2) either list or write about how you can realise your objectives – you can make a wish list of all the exposure you want, or alll the things you want to try – and then try and put it all together into a proposal, (3) go to the RMIT A&D school research page and look at the abstracts of others doing masters- you will see this under the graduate research conference, (4) formulate a question or a statement such as: ” simluating ecodesign practice in the Indian context” – this is a topic.
• Can I change my research topic later on during the course? In other words, can I select the topic after joining the course and understanding sufficiently, the scope of my field of interest?
You can change later. As for your second question – you need to write a winnig proposal that can be read by your prospective supervisor.. Hhe/she would need to approve your proposal.
• Can I take up additional taught courses while/before doing my masters by research?
Yes. You will have to do a research methods course. In the past masters students from Interior have done some history and theory courses in our program. All these courses would be additional to your basic requirement for the masters. The uni is very flexible and you can do many things.
• Can I gain some experience in the field of ecodesign after/during my course. Are there sufficient opportunities to work after completing/during the course?
This should be possible – you can contemplate CFD ( http://www.cfd.rmit.edu.au/), and or Product ecology(http://www.productecology.com.au/ ). theer could be others too.
• Who should do a masters by projects and who should do it by thesis?
The project thesis differentiation can happen later. If your work is going to be theoretical and written then you would choose to do a thesis. If it is going to involve samples and experiments or trial designs then you may wish to make it a project. but this is decided between student and super.
• For a masters by project, will I be given a project or do I need to come with a project on my own?
You need to formulate a project. but you can keep your self open to stuff going on here.
• Do you have any sponsored projects that I can do?
Not at the moment. But if we run your masters with a cfd collaboration – i have to check on this, and can do this after my return – then you may be able to join an ongoing project.
• My plan: Do a masters in D4S (2 yrs)> gain work experience with some good design firm in this field (3 yrs) > Start up on my own in India. How would this course help me with my plan?
This is not a course. What you will be doing is potentially constructing your business plan, working on sample projects, demonstrating the viability of the idea you propose, and pushing to have a strategy for design practice. And at the end of the research you may be all geared up to start.
Hope that helps.
NOW write a draft proposal and show it to me to read. Go to google and check out how to write a research proposal.