Skip to Main Content

Postgraduate Study

Key questions about research proposals

What is a research proposal?

A statement about the research that you plan to do. It gives you a framework to use for thinking about the project and planning it ahead of time, making sure that it’s achievable and appropriate for the field of study.

 Who will read my research proposal?

The readers will probably be academic staff in your subject area, not only your lecturer and supervisor.  This may include lecturers in other subject areas if your research is interdisciplinary  (involves more than one discipline).

 What work does the proposal do?

  • Identifies the focus of your research
  • Get you started on the journey of your research
  • Helps you think through the different elements of the research
  • Helps the department to identify appropriate supervisors
  • Helps you and others check that the research is achievable and worthwhile
  • Acts as a road map to remind you of your plans
  • Meets a course requirement
  • Convinces you and lecturers that this is an appropriate project

 Where can your topic come from?

Interests of yours that are relevant to your degree / ideas covered in undergraduate study / work experience issues / suggestions from academic reading you’ve done / current issues in the media / needs or gaps in your field of study

Structuring a research proposal

This document provides a helpful general overview of a research proposal structure. It is important to closely follow the requirements of your department.

Planning and Writing a Research Proposal

Finding examples

Have you seen a research proposal in your subject area?

Try asking your lecturer or supervisor. They may have samples available.