Check to see if this applies to the department/project you are applying to.
For each section, lay out in point form what you will discuss. You must grab their attention and excite them about your project from the very beginning.
Make it easy for them to understand (and thus fund) your proposal. Remember, too, to show your enthusiasm for your project—enthusiasm is contagious!
We encourage you strongly to identify a prospective supervisor and get in touch with them to discuss your proposal informally BEFORE making a formal application, to ensure it is of mutual interest and to gain input on the design, scope and feasibility of your project.
Remember, however, that it may not be possible to guarantee that you are supervised by a specific academic.
Crucially, it is also an opportunity for you to communicate your passion in the subject area and to make a persuasive argument about what your project can accomplish. It is normal for students to refine their original proposal in light of detailed literature reviews, further consideration of research approaches and comments received from the supervisors (and other academic staff).
Although the proposal should include an outline, it should also be approached as a persuasive essay – that is, as an opportunity to establish the attention of readers and convince them of the importance of your project. It is useful to view your proposal as an initial outline rather than a summary of the ‘final product’.
Research proposals are also used to correctly match you with an appropriate supervisor/supervision team.
If you are interested in the work of a specific potential supervisor, and especially if you have already discussed your proposed project with this person, be sure to make reference to this in your proposal.
Potential supervisors, admissions tutors and/or funders use research proposals to assess the quality and originality of your ideas, your skills in critical thinking and the feasibility of the research project.
Please bear in mind that Ph D programmes in the UK are designed to be completed in three years (full time) or six years (part time).