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Preparing a Research Proposal

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It is one of the key criteria that the School (and funding bodies) uses to differentiate between different applicants. 

The research proposal should not exceed 1500 words. Bibliography, references and appendices are excluded from the wordcount. If your proposal goes over the word limit, you may be marked down.

Before making your final application it is likely that you will need to revise your proposal several times. Whilst your potential supervisor may help you do this, it is important that you present them with as clear a proposal as you can when you first make contact with them.

The keys to writing a strong research proposal are:

  • to formulate a precise, interesting research question; this may take the form of a hypothesis to be tested, or a more open-ended enquiry
  • to establish the relevance and value of the proposed research question in the context of current academic thinking
  • to outline a clear and practical methodology which enables you to answer the research question, and to describe and evaluate any data or source material you will draw upon
  • to suggest what you hope to discover at the end of your research and what new areas it might open up
  • to demonstrate that your research will not take longer than three years

Statement of Purpose

Applicants must also submit a Statement of Purpose within their application.

Candidates should use the Statement of Purpose to set out information which is NOT set out in their Research Proposal. The Statement of purpose should be a 1 side A4 document containing the following information;

  • Previous academic and other experience relevant to your proposed research
  • Why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary (thinking about where the project fits with the School and supervisors research interests)
  • What research training and professional preparation you have already received
  • Any further training you think you may need to complete the doctorate
  • Any ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking your research.
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