The Research Proposal

The research proposal is an integral part of any application to a PhD programme. In the Department of Politics, your proposal will be used by your potential supervisors to help them evaluate whether your project is one that they are willing and able to become engaged with. 

A good research proposal will typically include the following:

  • A working title
  • A brief overview of the general area of study
  • Identification of the relevant literature, theories and concepts
    • How does your proposed project relate to existing literature? How will it challenge or add to it?
  • Key research questions
  • Methodology
  • Timescale / research planning
  • Bibliography

As a guide, research proposals should be between 1500-2000 words in length (this total includes all of the elements listed above).

To aid the timely processing of your application, it is extremely useful to indicate your preferred supervisor(s) on your submission.

To help you with your application here are a few examples of successful PhD proposals

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How to apply

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You won't just know your subject - you'll know how to think.


David Cole, PhD in Politics