Writing a Research Proposal

Challenge thinking

Student working in the Postgraduate study space at the Business School

When applying for the PhD programme you will need to produce a document that outlines your proposed research topic and programme of research. Quality rather than quantity is the key to a good proposal (as a guide we are looking for 1000-2000 words).

Below is an outline of the elements a research proposal might typically contain. Whilst there is no right or wrong way to produce a research proposal, we would recommend reading the advice of Dr. Nicola Bown, former Deputy Director of the Graduate School, on how to make sure your proposal is effective.

Title: A clear and succinct description of your research
Introduction: A brief explanation of what you propose to research, why the research is of value and how you propose to go about it.
Literature Review: A thorough examination of key, recent contributions in research periodicals relating to the area of research in question. You should use the literature review to identify gaps in, or problems with, existing research to justify why further or new research is required.
Research Method: A description of your choice of methodology, including details of methods of data collection and analysis. A time schedule showing key activities would be useful.
References: Any literature cited in the proposal should be listed at the end of the document. Use of the Harvard style of referencing is preferred.

Remember: it is extremely important that you spend time locating your research so that it fits with our academics and research.

Further guidance

If you would like further guidance about writing your research proposal you might find the following books useful:

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2000) Writing your research proposal, Pearson Education.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. and Lowe, A. (2002) Management Research: An Introduction. Sage Publications.

Riley, M., Wood, R.C., Clark, M.A., Wilkie, E. and Szivas, E. (2000) Researching and Writing Dissertations in Business and Management Thomson Learning.