Crucially, it is also an opportunity for you to communicate your passion in the subject area and to make a persuasive argument about what your project can accomplish. It is normal for students to refine their original proposal in light of detailed literature reviews, further consideration of research approaches and comments received from the supervisors (and other academic staff).
Although the proposal should include an outline, it should also be approached as a persuasive essay – that is, as an opportunity to establish the attention of readers and convince them of the importance of your project. It is useful to view your proposal as an initial outline rather than a summary of the ‘final product’.
Research proposals may vary in length, so it is important to check with the department(s) to which you are applying to check word limits and guidelines.
Generally speaking, a proposal should be around 3,000 words which you write as part of the application process.
Please bear in mind that Ph D programmes in the UK are designed to be completed in three years (full time) or six years (part time).Quite often, students who fit the minimum entrance criteria fail to be accepted as Ph D candidates as a result of weaknesses in the research proposal. (1997): Supervising the Ph D, (Open University Press, Milton Keynes). To avoid this, keep the following advice in mind: Bell, J. (2001): How to Research, (Open University Press, Milton Keynes). (2000): The Research Student's Guide to Success, (Open University, Milton Keynes). Remember that this is not simply a bibliography listing ‘everything written on the subject’.Rather, it should show critical reflection in the selection of appropriate texts. This section should discuss the texts which you believe are most important to the project, demonstrate your understanding of the research issues, and identify existing gaps (both theoretical and practical) that the research is intended to address.This section is intended to ‘sign-post’ and contextualize your research questions, not to provide a detailed analysis of existing debates.Be as specific as possible in identifying influences or debates you wish to engage with, but try not to get lead astray into a long exegesis of specific sources.Rather, the point is to sketch out the into which your work will fit.Moreover, they are used to assess and assign appropriate supervision teams.If you are interested in the work of a particular potential supervisor – and especially if you have discussed your work with this person – be sure to mention this in your proposal.