How to write a research proposal

The purpose of a research degree is to create and interpret new knowledge. Your PhD at the University of Derby will be your original contribution to knowledge in your chosen field. If you are considering studying for a PhD with us, there are two options available to you:

If you decide to design your own research project, you will need to write a research proposal which will form part of your PhD application. Ahead of creating your research proposal, you should familiarise yourself with the application process for applying for a PhD at Derby.

Planning your research proposal

Before applying to study a PhD, you should review the critical literature in your subject area and specifically your topic of interest. You should have a clear understanding of the current questions within your chosen topic from which you can derive the research question you want to investigate.

Find a supervisor

We recommend that you look for and contact a potential supervisor at the University before creating your research proposal. The supervisor will be able to provide initial feedback on whether your research interests align with research at the University and if there are additional College specific requirements to the research proposal template outlined below.

To search for a supervisor take a look at our College pages or our Research Centres and Groups.

You may also contact the Chair of the relevant College Research Committee before applying to check if there are any additional requirements for your specific research proposal.

Creating your research proposal

When you have identified a potential research question you need to prepare an outline research proposal, a maximum of 1,000 words consisting of:

The proposal is not fixed and may change after discussion with your potential supervisory team and as your research develops.

You should also prepare a personal statement (maximum 500 words) indicating why you are interested in undertaking a research degree, why you are passionate about the subject area of the proposed research project and why you want to undertake your studies at the University of Derby.