Writing a research proposal
A key part of your application for a research degree is the research proposal. Different faculties have different requirements for the thesis proposal. We recommend that you discuss the requirements of your research proposal with your faculty and potential supervisor prior to submission.
Note: The faculties listed below have specific instructions for developing a research proposal. If you are intending to study in one of these faculties, please follow the faculty instructions:
Students intending to study in all other faculties should use the information below to develop and write their research proposal.
How to write a research proposal
There is no set format or length for a research proposal although it should cover the main headings listed below and be at least two pages in length. Some faculties will require a longer proposal — contact the faculty for further advice.
Title of project
This should be a clear description of your proposed research project.
Background and context of project
This section should explain the background and context of the proposed research work with an indication of the main contribution to knowledge which you wish to make. Indicate why this area is an important area for research.
Aims and objectives
This section should spell out three or four aims/objectives for your research to show what you want to achieve.
This section is a review of the literature which should outline the most important research that has already been carried out in your research area.
This section is a broad outline of the methodology you plan to use including:
- the broad approach — qualitative, quantitative etc
- how data/information will be generated and gathered and how you expect to deal with and analyse that data
- Indication of any broad theoretical framework you may be using
- ethical considerations where the research involves interaction with humans or animals and where applicable, how consent would be obtained.
This section outlines the resources required for the project.
Research plan and timetable
This section should summarise the steps and approximate timing within a six-monthly schedule over the number of years of candidature for your degree.
This section is a list of all the references that have been referred to in the proposal.