Writing a research proposal

Every PhD candidate at Sheffield is required to submit a research proposal prior to acceptance onto the programme. This document is vital to the success of your application. It should be fully referenced and approximately 1,500-2,000 words (excluding bibliography) in length.

It should include:

  • Title of your proposed PhD research
  • The main aims and objectives of your research, including an awareness of how your thesis will be an original contribution to knowledge
  • Proposed chapter titles
  • Discussion of relevant existing literature
  • Motivation for your research question(s)
  • The proposed methodology and a plan and timetable of work
  • Any resources available and any additional ones required
  • Explanation of why you would like to study in the School of English

Creative writing PhD proposal

The proposal for the Creative Writing PhD is distinct from the proposal for other programs. This 3-year program consists of a full-scale creative project, novel, collection of short stories, poetry collection (60,000 words for prose, 50 poems for poetry, or equivalent) accompanied by a 40,000 word critical project. The creative and critical projects should be intimately related and the critical project is not restricted to introduction to the creative work, but must be a free-standing research project, with specific research question(s), methodology, and set of primary and secondary texts for analysis. The creative element must be take full and potentially publishable form and will be judged at viva under those terms. We welcome interdisciplinary projects, and also mixed media, multimedia projects; and can host complex projects with co-supervision with specialists from music, architecture, theatre, film.

The proposal for this PhD program will be approximately 1,500 words, outlining both the creative and critical sides of the project. The outline of the critical side of the project should be structured similarly to any research-based PhD, although the discussion of the creative side may be much more flexibly formatted.

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