How to Write a Research Proposal

The School of

Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History

Maintaining a tradition of teaching & learning dating back over 500 years

How to Write a Research Proposal

Applicants must submit a detailed research proposal. The full proposal, preferably between 1,000 and 1,500 words, should include at least the following elements:

  • a clear description of the proposed thesis topic, indicating the research problem and expected scope of the investigation;
  • a description of how the proposed topic fits into the existing field;
  • an indication of how the research is to be carried out (e.g. study of written sources, social surveys, fieldwork);
  • an indication of why the University of Aberdeen is suited to the proposed research (e.g. staff expertise, library or archival resources).

Candidates admitted to PhD study will not be bound by the proposal that accompanies the application. Its purpose is to reveal something of the applicant’s preparation and insight. During their first months of work doctoral students often adjust their proposals in consultation with their advisors, who may also request a fuller proposal (e.g. with chapter outlines and provisional bibliography) as the project takes shape.

In Aberdeen as elsewhere in the UK, the dissertation is examined by internal and external examiners other than the candidate’s supervisor. They will expect a dissertation that makes an original and significant contribution to knowledge.

Research proposals should be uploaded online with your application.