Guidelines for first-year PhD research proposal

Guidelines for First Year PhD Research Proposal
At the end of their First Year, students are required to submit an Extended Research Proposal of
about 12,000 words. This should cover the following areas:
1. Research problem (around 2,000 words). This should:
identify the overall research problem
state clearly the key question(s) that the thesis will address
locate the research problem within the broader line of inquiry
describe the conceptual and theoretical framework that undergirds the study
2. Literature survey (around 5,000 words). This should demonstrate the relationship of the
proposed research to existing studies. It should
identify and discuss key areas of literature, engage with ongoing debates in the literature,
and show how the proposed study will draw on and further develop these debates
locate the study in relation to influential studies in the field, and demonstrate any gaps,
weaknesses or criticisms
indicate how the proposed research will contribute to the advancement of knowledge, data
or methods in the particular field of study
3. Research design (around 5,000 words). This should explain how the research will actually be
conducted. It should:
identify the primary and secondary data sources that will be collected or accessed
explain how the fieldwork or collection of data will be organized, and demonstrate
accessibility of data sources
justify the data collection and analytical methods/techniques to be used in relation to the
overall topic and research questions
provide a timetable of progress during the fieldwork/data collection phase of the thesis, as
well as for the overall completion of the thesis. This might also be the place to raise any
potential difficulties or limitations (eg risk assessment), as well as any ethical issues
connected with the research
NB: It is expected that different sections of the proposal will be incorporated into various chapters
of the thesis, and students may choose to present their proposal in a different format from the one
above; however they must ensure that all three areas are covered.