Skip to main content Skip to navigation

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)


Philosophy, Department of

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

Physics, Department of

As part of your electronic application, under "Purpose of Study, Research Proposal" you can indicate which research groups, topics and/or supervisors most interest you. A detailed proposal is not needed.

Politics and International Studies (PAIS), Department of

Please see the Departmental Guidance Notes.

Psychology, Department of

We look for a robust (structured) research proposal of no more than 2,000 words. It has to convince us that your topic is important and feasible and that you have the right experience and skills to deliver the project. The emphasis will be on the quality of the proposal and whether or not it fits with a particular proposed supervisor’s research interests. You may insert a maximum of 3 figures and add an end-of-proposal reference list to support your proposal.