Guidelines for a research proposal

All doctoral proposals submitted as part of an application will be run through plagiarism detection software.

By asking you for an outline research proposal we hope to get a good picture of the kind of research you want to undertake and your understanding of what such research is likely to entail.

The University's application form is designed to enable you to give an overview of your academic experience and qualifications for study at postgraduate level. Your outline research proposal then gives us an idea of the kind of research you want to undertake, and this, together with information from your referees, will help us assess whether the Moray House School of Education would be the appropriate place for you to pursue your research interests.

At the application stage you are unlikely to be in a position to provide a comprehensive research proposal, and indeed the detailed shaping up of a research plan would be very much done in conjunction with your supervisors(s). But it is important for us to appreciate what you are hoping to investigate, how you envisage carrying out the research, and what the results might be expected to contribute to current knowledge and understanding in the relevant academic field(s) of study.

In writing your proposal please indicate any prior academic or employment experience relevant to your planned research.

How to write your research proposal

The description of your proposed research should consist of 4-5 typed sheets of A4. It can take whatever form seems best, but should include some information about the following:

  • The general area within which you wish to conduct research, and why (In explaining the attractions of your chosen research field, you might find it helpful to indicate, for example, what has stimulated the particular interests that you have and any study or research in the area you have already undertaken).
  • The kind of research questions that you would hope to address, and why (In explaining what is likely to be the main focus of your research, it may be helpful to indicate, for example, why these issues are of particular concern and the way in which they relate to existing literature).
  • The sources of information and type of research methods you plan to use (in explaining how you will be collecting your research data it may be helpful to indicate, for example, which sources you will be targeting and how you will access these data sources).

In addition to the above issues, please include any comments you are able to make concerning:

  • the approach that you will take to the analysis of the research data generated
  • the general timetable you would follow for carrying out and writing up your research
  • any plans you may have for undertaking fieldwork away from Edinburgh
  • any problems that might be anticipated in carrying out your proposed research

Please note: This guidance applies to all candidates, except those applying to conduct PhD research as part of a larger already established research project (for example, in the Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences).

In this case you should provide a two to three page description of a research project that you have already undertaken, as a means of complementing information given in the application form. If you are in any doubt as to what is appropriate please contact us on the following email address:


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