Writing your research proposal

The proposal is the main way we can judge whether you have what it takes to excel as a doctoral candidate and for you to share your ideas and interests with us.

You need to show that you understand what is required when proposing research.

Remember, in a PhD proposal you aren’t committing to doing specifics, and a fuller proposal is required to complete the first year. Instead, you are showing that you know how to do a research project.

Keep your proposal concise. You have lots to cover so you’ll need to boil the literature down to its essentials, covering only what is relevant to your project (while showing you are aware that the rest is there).

Typical proposals in the Faculty of Humanities tend to be around 1,500-2,000 words, but do vary by programme, so please check with the School you'll be submitting your application to for more specific research proposal guidance.

For your proposal we’d recommend a structure that is something like this:

  • abstract;
  • literature review (which usually means three paragraphs on the main elements of your conceptual framework and one on the proposed case);
  • research questions;
  • methods;
  • work plan;
  • references (not included in word count).

How to write a research proposal

Watch our information session hosted by Dr Tomas Frederiksen, including a step-by-step guide on writing your research proposal.