Graduate Research

Drafting your Research Proposal

Your research proposal should provide a detailed account of what you propose to research. You should write the research proposal separately, and not in the Supplementary Personal Statement section of the application form.

All good proposals must be both informative and persuasive. You need to clearly describe the topic, its aims and objectives, and its methodology. This should be done as concisely as possible. Your proposal should be approximately 3,000 words and include a preliminary bibliography.

A good proposal should have the following basic elements, though their order and weighting can of course vary:

A working title: make this clear and descriptive.

Some background and rationale: explain the background and issues of your research.

  • What are your aims and objectives?
  • What are the parameters?
  • Why have you chosen them?

Clear and defined research question that is answerable within a set timeframe.

A description of your theoretical framework and methodological approach: why is this best suited to your topic?

  • What are the theoretical and research issues related to your research question?
  • What sources/data will you use?
  • What are the activities necessary for the completion of your project?
  • Are there ethical considerations?
  • How realistic is your project in practical terms?

A brief analytical discussion of the scholarly research to date on your topic: what is the current state of your field?

  • Who are the main contributors in this field?
  • In what ways will your research create valuable and useful knowledge?

A brief statement on your particular qualifications: have your previous degrees given you the necessary knowledge of the field, discipline, and methodologies you require?

  • What research training will you need to undertake?

Your proposal will allow us to consider whether your topic is suitable and whether it is capable of generating a doctoral level thesis. It is important to realise that your application may be refused admission on the ground that it is of insufficient depth, and in particular, that it does not disclose what advance in human knowledge might arise from the research.

We are aware that after admission and initial talks with the supervisor or after some months of work you might well modify your original account.