Guide to a PhD research Proposal, School of Psychology, University

Guide to writing a PhD research proposal, School of Psychology, University of Kent
Dear applicant
We are glad that you are considering applying for postgraduate studies at the University of Kent on
one of our Research MPhil/PhD degree programmes.
One of the most important parts of your application is your research proposal. To be accepted to our
programmes, you need to find a member of academic staff who will act as your supervisor. Writing a
strong and persuasive research proposal will be helpful in finding a supervisor and increase your
chances of getting accepted.
Below please find some guidance on what to include in your proposal. Remember also that the
proposal should have a word limit of 500 words.
Your proposal should describe briefly how your idea is based on previous research and
theory: either applying a theory in psychology, or one from another academic discipline.
The proposal should outline a specific programme of empirical research that addresses open
research questions based on the research and theory you cite. For example, it can test one
theory against another in predicting a given kind of behaviour; propose a modification of a
theory to cover difficulties the theory may have in explaining results; or apply a theory to a
domain of behaviour where it has never been applied before.
You should explain in particular how you intend to investigate the open research questions,
and state what hypotheses you will be testing or exploring.
You should give a specific description of the kinds of method you intend to use in the studies
testing or exploring your questions. We need to know:
o whether you plan to use qualitative, quantitative or both kinds of methods;
o whether your methods will involve, for example, experiments, observation, surveys;
o the kind of data you will collect, for example, narrative, physiological, scale
response, reaction time;
o the kind of participants you envisage (e.g., students, children, employees); and
o for quantitative research, your main independent and dependent variables, as well
as a description of how you intend to measure or manipulate them.
You may want to look up the research interests of potential supervisors on our website
( and mention one or more supervisors with
related interests by name in your proposal. Explain how your ideas could connect with theirs.
Best wishes and good luck with your application,
the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Admissions Team