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The Research Proposal

Writing a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a document explaining what you would like to research for your doctorate. Different academic departments request different things as far as a proposal and/or application is concerned, so it is important that you contact the department to find out any particular requirements before submitting your application.

In general, and if required, your proposal should:

  • provide an overview of your research question, explaining why it is of academic and or practical importance
  • outline the main objectives of your research, providing details of two or three key aspects
  • indicate the importance of previous related research and how your own research question might make a useful contribution to the area
  • briefly state the main research techniques (interviews, case studies, modelling etc.) you might use
  • indicate your suggested data collection procedures, indicating sources and any possible difficulties
  • explain the techniques you intend to use
  • add an outline timeline of activities

Please check the individual academic department requirements below.

J (no definitions) K (no definitions)
N (no definitions) O (no definitions) Q (no definitions) U (no definitions) V (no definitions) X (no definitions) Y (no definitions) Z (no definitions)


Caribbean Studies, The Yesu Persaud Centre for

Please contact the The Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies for specific research proposal requirements.

Chemistry, Department of
  • If you are applying for a research degree, please let us know on the form what area of research you are interested in and/or which research groups you would like to join. It is not necessary to submit a research proposal at this stage. You can work on that together with your chosen supervisor.
  • Please make sure you state your research area and any academic you would like to work with in the first paragraph of the additional information/reason for study section. We shall distribute your application, once received, to the members of staff you have listed. If you do not name any academics then we will not be able to process your application any further.
  • Please feel free to contact any of the academic staff listed on our directory pages to discuss potential project areas.
Classics & Ancient History, Department of

Those applying for a research degree (MA by Research, MPhil, PhD) are asked to provide an outline of the chosen research topic. This should be about 500 words and should outline the following:

  • What area of research you intend to undertake and why (with reference to the most important relevant bibliography)

  • How you propose to conduct the research

  • What background in the subject you already have and any skills you will need to develop further (eg language training)

Complexity Science, Centre for

Please contact the Centre for Complexity Science for specific research proposal requirements.

Computer Science, Department of

Students are encouraged to contact the department directly before submitting a proposal.

Cultural Policy Studies, Centre for

Application procedure:

STEP ONE: In the first instance, you must identify a member of staff whose research interests and expertise are within the general area your proposed project intends to explore, and who you think would be in a good position to act as your supervisor. Please familiarise yourself with the work of the member of staff who you think would be the most suitable supervisor for you.

STEP TWO: Please make contact with your desired supervisor to introduce yourself and to send a short summary of your intended project. If the prospective supervisor is interested in pursuing your application further, you will be asked to submit a fully developed research proposal, a CV and a cover letter. More information on the information these documents need to contain can be found below.

STEP THREE: If your prospective supervisor thinks your project shows real potential and that you are a strong candidate, you will be invited to Warwick to discuss the details of your project with your prospectigve supervisor and another member of staff. Depending on your performance, you might be informally offered a place and invited to submit a formal, online application to the University. Please do not fill in the online application form before this stage.

Please note that a PhD is a significant commitment of time and resources, both for you and your prospective supervisor. A face-to-face meeting is therefore an important step in ensuring a good match between candidate and supervisor, and we will therefore normally expect you to be available to come to Warwick for an interview as part of the application process.

The research proposal and cover letter:


The research proposal should articulate your research questions and proposed methodology; it should contain a brief literature review and position your project within your chosen area of the broader cultural policy field. Your proposal should be no longer than 1500 words.

Your cover letter should contain a statement as to why you think the Centre is the ideal place for you to conduct your research, and how your project will contribute to developing the research areas already cultivated by Centre staff.