Writing your research proposal

The purpose of the research proposal is to demonstrate that the research you wish to undertake is significant, necessary and feasible, that you will be able to make an original contribution to the field, and that the project can be completed within the normal time period. Some general guidelines and advice on structuring your proposal are provided below. Research proposals should be no longer than 3,000 words (excluding the reference list/bibliography).

  • Title sheet

    This should include your name, the degree programme to which you are applying and your thesis proposal title.
  • Topic statement

    This should establish the general subject area you will be working in and how your topic relates to it. Explain briefly why your topic is significant and what contribution your research will make to the field.
  • Research aims

    These should set out the specific aims of your research and, if appropriate to your discipline, the main research questions.
  • Review of the literature

    Provide a brief review of the significant literature and current research in your field to place your own proposed research in context and to establish its potential contribution to the field.
  • Study design / theoretical orientation

    Outline the theoretical approaches taken in your topic and indicate which approach or approaches you propose to use in your research and why you plan to do so.
  • Research methods

    Briefly describe your proposed research methods, including the type of information and sources to be used, the main research methods to be employed, any resources needed and any ethical or safety issues identified.
  • Tentative chapter outline

    You may wish to include a tentative chapter outline if available at this stage.
  • References/Bibliography

    List all publications cited in your proposal using a suitable academic referencing system. (Not included in the 3,000 word count.)