Pre-applications and Proposals
If the PhD route is the one you are keen on, then to help us see if we can supervise and guide you, please fill in the 'pre-application form' below and return it to us via firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not a formal application, but is a first stage that serves to give us a clear idea of the subject area, materials and questions that you are interested in pursuing and to help identify whether there are potential supervisors with relevant expertise within the department for your project. This pre-application will enable you to generate the research proposal which you will be able to submit with your formal application.
Guidance is available below on writing a proposal which should be of 2000 words max. Any proposal will need to be finalised and agreed within the School prior to completing your formal application to the University.
Please note that sometimes, unfortunately, we are unable to supervise certain topics because we do not have academic staff with expertise in these areas to offer the necessary support and guidance.
Once the topic has been approved and a supervisor selected, then PhD applicants can move to the full application stage.
Guidance on how to write a research proposal
Applicants for a PhD in a UK university must submit a research proposal. The purpose of the proposal is to help the relevant department's postgraduate admissions tutor to judge whether the academic department can offer supervision, and to judge whether the project is of a scale and quality appropriate to a PhD.
Before you write the proposal it is essential that you look on the department's staff and research webpages, noting any research groups that you might want to join and any specific supervisors who might be able to help oversee and guide your proposed studies. A proposal should normally be c.1500-2000 words long, and should contain the following elements:
1. The title of the proposed research: This should be precise. Broad subject areas are too large for the scope of a PhD.
2. Abstract (150 words): This is a short summary of the proposal. It should state the research problem, its context and its significance.
3. Overview (100-200 words): You need to show your understanding of the general subject area and explain how your chosen research subject fits into the general area of study. If possible, you should show how your own background equips you for research in this area.
4. Presentation of Research (4-600 words): This is a summary of the proposed research. This is the most important section of the proposal. You need to explain what you want to research and why. Your research needs to have a purpose.
5. Literature Review (200 words): You need to refer to the key articles and books related to your proposed area of research. This needs to support your research. Within the literature review you need to show that there is a need for your research.
6. Research Questions (100 words): You need to identify the research questions which you will be seeking to answer and explain why they are important.
7. Methodology (200 words): You must show some understanding of the methods that will be used to conduct the research and of any equipment and fieldwork that will or might be required. If there are specific materials that are to be used (eg. archives, finds) mention where these are and if access to these is available/likely.
8. Timescale: You should plan what you hope to achieve in each year of your research.
9. Bibliography: This should comprise a short list of the key articles and books mentioned in your application.