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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)


Economics, Department of

Please contact the Department of Economics for specific research proposal requirements.

Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, Centre for (CEDAR)

Please contact the Centre for specific research proposal requirements.

Education Studies, Centre for

Please contact the Centre for Education Studies for specific research proposal requirements.

Employment Research, Institute of

Please contact the Institute of Employment Research for specific research proposal requirements.

Engineering, Department of

An important part of your PhD application is the research proposal so we want to know what your research interests are so that we may direct your application to potential supervisors. The proposal does not need be long, but the quality should be high and no more than 2-3 pages should be sufficient. Ideally your proposal should address the points below however as long as we get a clear idea of your research interests then we can consider your application.

  • Ensure that your research interests match those in the School of Engineering (view), or contact us for clarification of research areas.
  • Outline the main objectives of your research, providing details of two or three key aspects.
  • State your target audience for this project.
  • Explain what the main outcomes of the project are that you would want to see
  • Outline what methods/approaches you intend to use to achieve the aims of your project.
  • Indicate your suggested data collection procedures, including sources and any possible difficulties.
  • Explain any analytical techniques you intend to use for your research.


  • Broad research areas which would be unmanageable as a PhD topic or that have no relevance to the University of Warwick research areas.
  • Vague descriptions of your research interests.
English and Comparative Literary Studies

Students are advised to compose a statement of 500 words about their proposed area of study. This should situate a topic within a particular chronological or thematic area, and should make specific reference to bodies of theoretical knowledge, texts, or authors which will be studied. You should also locate the topic within current critical work in this area, perhaps citing a few recent secondary works which have interested, inspired or provoked you. This is not the place for a personal statement about your past career or future aspirations. We recognise, of course, that all projects change and evolve during the process of doctoral study, and that it is difficult to define a project in advance of carrying it out. However, it is very important, when assessing applications, for us to have a clear idea of your project, which will enable us to identify possible supervisors.

Students are assigned a supervisor and advisory mentor (who offers academic and pastoral support) from amongst the academic staff of the Department. On occasion it may be appropriate for a student to have two supervisors, with their second supervisor being in another department.

The Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick is a highly regarded research department, with expertise across a broad spectrum of specialisms. Our major research groupings are listed here.