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Create your own research proposal

A research proposal is a short document that summarises the research you want to undertake. If you cannot find a suitable advertised project, this is a route to create your own.

When creating a research proposal, you’ll need to consider the question or issue you want to address with your project. Think about the background of the subject and how your research will be an original contribution to the field. You’ll also need to think about the methods you'll use to conduct this research.

Your proposal helps us assess your suitability for a research degree and decide if we can offer you the right supervision.


You may want to make contact with 1 or more potential supervisors to discuss project ideas. They may also be able to help with funding your degree.

You can search our academics to find a supervisor whose research interests align to yours. When you find a match, contact them to discuss your proposals. Allow time for responses and to consider their feedback.

Learn how to make a supervisor enquiry

Writing your research proposal

You should keep it clear, objective and realistic. Include:

  • an outline of your research interests
  • your initial thoughts about your topic
  • clear objectives of what you aim to achieve or the question you want to address
  • references to previous work
  • why the research is relevant and original
  • your proposed method and general approach
  • why you believe the research should be funded
  • how your skills will help to conduct the research
  • any training you may need to undertake the project

How to structure your proposal

Your research proposal should include:

  • a working title for your project
  • headings
  • up to 1,500 words (excluding a bibliography)

It’s best to write with short paragraphs and sentences. You can use images and diagrams if it’s appropriate.

Example structure:

  • introduction statement (200 words)
  • your background reading and the area you want to contribute to (400 words)
  • your research question or issue to investigate (200 words)
  • data sources, research methods and critical approaches to use (500 words)
  • conclusion on how your project will contribute to the field (200 words)
  • bibliography

Submit your proposal

Your potential supervisor will inform you of when to start the application process and how to include the details of your agreed project.  

More about how to apply