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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)


Sociology, Department of

The research proposal is the most important element of your PhD application. You need to submit a fully specified research proposal when you apply. This is your statement about why your project is interesting, how you will carry it out, and what academic debates and social problems your work addresses. It's your chance to show us how you think and what kind of sociologist your are.

We look for a robust research proposal of around 2,000-3,000 words, although this is only a guideline. It has to convince us that your topic is feasible and that we have the right expertise to supervise it. The emphasis will be on the quality of the proposal and whether or not it fits with a particular supervisor’s research interests, not on the word count.

Statistics, Department of

A research proposal is not needed. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the department directly before applying.

Systems Biology, Warwick Centre for

Students are encouraged to contact the Centre directly before applying.