Writing your PhD research proposal
Find guidance on how to write your PhD research proposal and a template form for you to use to submit your research proposal.
By asking you for an outline research proposal we hope to get a good picture of your research interests 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. This, together with information from your referees, will help us assess whether the Moray House School of Education and Sport 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; the detailed shaping up of a research plan would be 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.
In your research proposal, please also ensure that you clearly identify the Moray House research cluster your proposal falls under, as well as two to three staff members with expertise in this area. We also encourage you to contact potential supervisors within your area of proposed research prior to submitting your application in order to gauge their interest and availability.
How to write your research proposal
The description of your proposed research should consist of 4-5 typed A4 sheets. 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 (you might find it helpful to explain what stimulated your interest in your chosen research field, and any study or research in the area that 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 (for example, how you plan to collect your data, which sources you will be targeting and how you will access these data sources).
In addition to the above, please include any comments you are able to make concerning:
- The approach that you will take to analysing your research data
- 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:
All doctoral proposals submitted as part of an application will be run through plagiarism detection software.
Template form for your research proposal
All applicants for a PhD or MSc by Research are required to submit a research proposal as part of their application. Applicants must use the template form below for their research proposal. This research proposal should then be submitted online as part of your application. Please use Calibri size 11 font size and do not change the paragraph spacing (single, with 6pt after each paragraph) or the page margins.