Accessibility statement

Preparing a research proposal

Your proposal should be around 1500-2000 words. It should contain at least the following elements:

  1. A provisional title: This should indicate the focus of the PhD. It should include any key concepts, empirical focus, or lines of inquiry that you aim to pursue.
  2. An overview of the research: In this section, you should provide an overview of your research. What questions are you trying to answer, or what hypothesis/ argument are you trying to explore? What are the main research objectives? What are the key aims of the research?
  3. A rationale: key literature and identify a gap in the literature: You need to ground your research in existing literature. In this part of the proposal, you should include the most important texts related to the research, in order to demonstrate your understanding of the research issues. You should highlight how your research will contribute to the existing literature. How does your work relate to the expertise within the department you are applying to?
  4. Research design and methodology: You need to explain how you are going to conduct your research; what information you would need, how you would collect it and how you are going to analyze it. You will rework on this with your supervisor(s) should you have been successfully admitted to the PhD program.
  5. Timetable: You need to provide a realistic time table for the completion of your research.
  6. References: You need to list the main published literature that you use to guide your research, as well any available data sources you may draw on.


Take a look at the Department’s staff profiles, research centres, and research clusters to identify possible supervisor(s) within the Department.  You are strongly encouraged to contact a potential supervisor(s) prior to submitting an application so that they can help you to decide whether your ideas are suitable for PhD study in the Department of Sociology.