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How to write a research proposal

Students need to be imaginative and practical in writing their research proposal. Innovative research ideas are welcome, however it must be realistic and practical.

The proposal should provide a good idea of your 'research problem' and some indication of why you think it is important. We need to know that your research proposition is worth undertaking, that you can achieve it, and that you are aware of the constraints of time and other difficulties which affect all research projects.

We will assist students in refining their proposals where appropriate. Email PGR-SupportSOBE@salford.ac.uk for advice.

Word limit - 2000 words.

Sections of your proposal:

  • Working title
  • Introduction/justification/rationale
  • Aim/hypothesis - A simple statement of what the research is seeking to achieve. The aim should be fairly focussed to demonstrate that you have narrowed down the topic to something that is both achievable and manageable. Alternatively, the aim may be considered as a hypothesis (question). A hypothesis is a conjectural statement of the relationship between 2 or more variables that are measurable.
  • Objectives - 5-6 bullet points of intended outcomes from the research written as statements. They are written as though you have completed the research and are looking back on what you did in order to meet the aim of the research. Another way of looking at objectives is to think about what it is you need to demonstrate an understanding of in order to meet the aim of the research.
  • Literature review - Two parts: searching for and finding relevant literature; and analysing/reviewing what has been found. The literature review included in the Introductory section contextualises the subject area, and a full literature review is provided as a stand alone section. In addition, a literature review is also concerned with literature on research strategy/techniques and data analysis methods.
  • Research methodology - Provides a discussion of the research strategy (general approach) to be adopted with appropriate justification including:
    • detail of the implementation of the strategy in relation to the proposed research
    • the technique(s) to be used including justifying appropriate technique(s) for the research strategy adopted
    • possible problems that may arise in administering the technique(s) along with identifying strategies to minimise the impact of any potential problems
  • Analytical approach
    This addresses the range of data that will be gathered from the research techniques and how this information will be analysed.
  • References
    A list of references cited within the main text following a system of referencing such as Harvard, British or Vancouver.

For full details on applying for a research degree, please see the University's study page. We have also provided a short guide on how to write a research proposal as above.

You may apply at any time during the year. The School has four intakes each year: January, April, July and October (except for the on-line PhD, which has three intakes: January, April and October).

Entry requirements

Full-time/Part-time (PhD) - A minimum of a good honours degree or an approved Masters degree from a recognised university.

Split-site (PhD) - A minimum of good honours degree or an approved Masters degree from a recognised university. In the split-site programme and the Online Doctoral Programme the applicant will need to find a local advisor to assist the student in their resident country. The local advisor will need to be an experienced supervisor, PhD qualified, active in the proposed areas of research, who is willing to collaborate with the University of Salford, in a personal capacity, to actively assist.

Internet enabled – On-line Doctoral Programme - An approved Masters degree from a recognised university. In the split-site programme and the On-line Doctoral Programme the applicant will need to find a local advisor to assist the student in their resident country. The local advisor will need to be an experienced supervisor, PhD qualified, active in the proposed areas of research, who is willing to collaborate with the University of Salford, in a personal capacity, to actively assist.

MPhil Full-time/Part-time - A minimum of good honours degree from a recognised university.

Professional Doctorate - A minimum of good honours degree or an approved Masters degree from a recognised university, at least 3 years post qualification experience and professional qualification.

Progression

The Learning Agreement must be completed within the first three months of the candidature by the supervisor and the candidate. The agreements must include mechanisms for consultation with the supervisor and co-Supervisor. All Learning Agreements shall specify required and recommended relevant research training and dates by which such training must be completed.

The Interim Assessment shall take place between the 9th and 12th month of a full-time candidature (and proportionately within a similar time range for a part-time candidature).

The Internal Evaluation shall take place between the 21st and 24th month of a full-time candidature (and proportionately within a similar time range for a part-time candidature). The supervisor may be in attendance as an observer at the Internal Evaluation at the supervisor’s and candidate’s discretion. The work submitted for the Internal Evaluation by the candidate shall be substantive (whose detail shall be determined by the College with regard to the nature of the research project). The candidate shall be examined orally by the panel.

Tuition Fees

Students are required to pay the annual tuition fee at the beginning of each year of their minimum period of research and for any subsequent year until the supervisor confirms that the student has completed the research phase. Once the minimum registration period is complete and an extension to the study period is required, the College Research and Innovation Committee upon receipt of an extension request from the candidate and, having sought comment from the Supervisor, may recommend to the Postgraduate Research Awards Board that the Candidate be permitted to present a thesis at a later date. The Candidate shall pay the appropriate fee** if an extension of presentation of thesis (later than the termination date of the specified minimum period of study) is granted.

For details of the most up-to-date fees please see the University's fees and funding page.

** Fees for extended study is applicable for those students who commence their studies from the 2012/13 academic year