Writing a research proposal

Every PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield is required to submit a research proposal prior to acceptance onto the programme.

Postgraduate students writing and concentrating

This document is vital to the success of your application. It should be fully referenced and approximately 1,500-2,000 words in length (excluding bibliography).

You proposal should include:

  • The 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
  • The motivation for your research question(s)
  • The proposed methodology and a plan and timetable of work
  • Any resources available and any additional ones required
  • An 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 three-year program consists of a full-scale creative project, novel, collection of short stories or 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: the creative element must be complete and potentially publishable, whilst the critical project must be a free-standing research project, with the specific research question(s), methodology, and set of primary and secondary texts for analysis.

We welcome interdisciplinary, mixed media and multimedia projects, and are able to host complex projects with co-supervision from specialists in music, architecture, theatre and 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.

Next steps