The PhD proposal is an essential part of the PhD application, in this short guide, we highlight some of the key factors to consider when writing your proposal.

The primary objective of the PhD proposal is to outline the nature of your research and give an idea of how you intend to conduct this research. The proposal should make a strong first impression and exemplify that you would be a good and committed potential researcher. You will also be demonstrating that you are a good fit for the supervisors at your chosen university.

Many people will view the PhD proposal as a complicated and inconvenient part of the application process. However, a good PhD proposal does not need to be complicated. Although it can be challenging to write and so it is important to get it right.

Though there is no exact prescribed format for a general research proposal (across all subjects), all of the following are considered important to consider. You need to check your own subject’s particular conventions and expectations. In summary though, a research proposal should include six main sections, as detailed below:

1) clear title for your research project

  • What will you call your project?
  • What keywords would describe your proposal?

2) a clear statement about what you want to work on and why it is important

  • What are your main research objectives?
  • What difference do you think your research will make?
  • Why does this research excite you?
  • What research ‘gaps’ will you be filling by undertaking your project?
  • How would your research ‘add value’ to the subject?

3) background knowledge and context of the area in which you wish to work

  • How does your work link to the work of others in the same field?
  • How does your work relate to the expertise within the department you are applying

4) consideration of the methods/approach you might use

  • How will you conduct your research?
  • Will you use existing theories, new methods/approaches or develop new ones?
  • How might you design your project to get the best results/findings?

5) some indication of the strategy and timetable for your research project and any research
challenges you may face

  • What would be the main stages of your project?
  • What would you be expecting to do in each year of your PhD?

6) a list of the key references which support your PhD proposal

  • References should be listed in the appropriate convention for your subject area (e.g.
    Harvard). Such references should be used throughout your research proposal to demonstrate that you have read and understood the work of others.

The length of a PhD proposal

As a guide, a PhD proposal should be between 1,000-2,000 words. Although this is by no means set in stone, occasionally, some universities may stipulate the exact word count. You should ensure that your research proposal follows any university and college/departmental guidance on websites. You should also refine and edit your proposal many times before it is submitted to demonstrate that you have put the time and effort in. It will also demonstrate your motivation and commitment to pursuing your PhD.

Proofreading your PhD proposal

You may want to think about getting somebody who is detached from your work to read over it after you have made your own amends. This will ensure that the PhD proposal is well written without any errors and flows in a way which the reader can understand.

Proofreading will seek to ensure that grammatical, syntax and spelling errors are eradicated and that the whole text makes complete sense. Any words which do not quite fit in the context can be amended and then the finished product can then be achieved.

At Express Proofreading, our expert team can manage the proofreading of your work. You can obtain an instant proofreading quote through our website. You can find out more about our PhD proofreading service here. We even have an express turnaround service, so if you are working to a deadline, then you can still ensure the quality of your work is at its best.