How to Write a Research Proposal for Masters and PhD

One of the core documents (writing samples) you submit to the admission committee for a Master’s by research and PhD is a research proposal. Knowing how to write beautifully could be the key to getting accepted into your preferred University. This post will give you an overview of How to Write a Research Proposal for your Master, and Ph.D. Degree program. Whether you are applying for a self-funded or studentship you should follow the guidance below. But it is important to understand what is Research Proposal.

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address and outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic. It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research.

The proposal is the most important required document for the Scholarship that you submit as part of the application process just like the Recommendation Letter, and Motivation Letter. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for graduate-level research, for example, by demonstrating that you have the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically. The proposal also helps us to match your research interest with an appropriate supervisor.

How long should my research proposal be?

It should be 2,000–3,500 words (4-7 pages) long.

Components of Research Proposal

Regardless of whether you are applying for MPhil or Ph.D. programs, your research proposal should normally include the following information:

  • The proposal should include a short bibliography identifying the most relevant works for your topic.
  • The proposal should usually be around 2,500-3500 words. It is important to bear in mind that specific funding bodies might have different word limits.
  • It should be 2,500–3,500 words (4-7 pages) long.
  • What should be included in the research proposal?
  • Your proposal should include the following:

1) Title

Your title should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question.

2) Background and Rationale

You should include:
  • the background and issues of your proposed research
  • identify your discipline
  • a short literature review
  • a summary of key debates and developments in the field

3) Research Questions

The proposal should set out the central aims and questions that will guide your research. Before writing your proposal, you should take time to reflect on the key questions that you are seeking to answer. Many research proposals are too broad, so reflecting on your key research questions is a good way to make sure that your project is sufficiently narrow and feasible (i.e. one that is likely to be completed within the normal period for an MPhil or Ph.D. degree).

You should formulate these clearly, giving an explanation as to what problems and issues are to be explored and why they are worth exploring.

4) Significance of Research

The proposal should demonstrate the originality of your intended research. You should therefore explain why your research is important (for example, by explaining how your research builds on and adds to the current state of knowledge in the field or by setting out reasons why it is timely to research your proposed topic).

5) Plan of Work and Time Schedule

You should include an outline of the various stages and corresponding timelines for developing and implementing the research, including writing up your thesis.

  • For full-time study, your research should be completed within three years, with writing up completed in the fourth year of registration.
  • For part-time study, your research should be completed within six years, with the writing-up completed by the eighth year.

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6) Bibliography

You should include:

  • a list of references to key articles and texts discussed within your research proposal
  • a selection of sources appropriate to the proposed research.
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