Guidelines on Preparing a Thesis Proposal to Support Your Application

These guidelines are intended to assist you in developing and writing a thesis proposal. Applications for admission to a research degree cannot be dealt with unless they contain such a proposal.

Although students can, and often do, slightly alter their research topic after arriving at Sheffield, a thesis proposal helps us to make sure that:

  • The topic is viable
  • That the department can provide appropriate supervision and other necessary support.
  • You have thought through your interest in and commitment to a piece of research
  • You are a suitable candidate for admission

The process of producing a proposal is usually also essential if you need to apply for funding to pay your fees or support yourself whilst doing your research. Funding bodies will often need to be reassured that you are committed to a viable project at a suitable university.

A proposal should be typed double-spaced, if possible, and be between 1000 and 2000 words long. You need to include your proposal with your application form.

A proposal should contain at least the following elements:

  • Proposed thesis title
  • A description of the research issue in which you are interested
  • An explanation as to why this issue merits research
  • A description of research carried out by others (completed or ongoing) in the area
  • An indication of what your research would contribute to understanding
  • Details of how the research would be conducted, including any special facilities etc. which would be required and any necessary skills which you either have already or would need to acquire
  • An indication of how the results of your research would be disseminated.
  • You may care to use the points listed above as headings in your own proposal, adding any further sections as you see fit.