Applying for a PhD

a PORT for Modern Languages tutorial

2 The research proposal

2.1 your proposal: aims

A research proposal is typically written to secure a place at a university on a research Masters or Doctoral course and/or to secure funding for these studies.

What is your research proposal for? You will need to know the reason why you are writing a research proposal from the outset. Are you looking for acceptance onto a Masters or Doctoral research programme? Are you looking for funding for these studies? Your research proposal will need to be tailored according not only to the research course of choice but also to the specific rules and requirements of your target university department or funding source.

The PhD application

For university departments

  • are you applying for a doctorate or research masters degree?
  • do you have all the guidelines and application details you need?
  • who have you contacted?
  • what is your chosen department(s) explicitly looking for?
  • what are the specific written rules governing your proposal? Have you paid close attention to these?

applying for grants

For funding authorities

  • have you looked at your university prospectus for details of funding opportunities?
  • have you spoken to someone in your chosen department?
  • where can you get the best financial support?
  • do you have all the guidelines and application details from the relevant bodies?
  • have you read these carefully?
  • what is each funding body explicitly looking for?
  • do you comply with all initial requirements?
  • what are the specific written rules, for example, a word limit that you must stick to?
  • what are the unwritten rules, norms, conventions, expectations? how would you find out?