HST6027: Designing a Doctoral Research Project

15 credits (Semester: Autumn)

Module Leaders 2015-16: Dr Clare Griffiths and Professor Anthony Milton


Module Summary

This module is designed for students who intend to go on beyond the MA to study for a research degree.

It introduces you to the essential skills of devising, contextualising and organising a research project, including the identification of appropriate source material. You will be given advice on how to articulate the originality, intellectual purpose and research context of your project and shown how to present your ideas by writing an effective research proposal.


Module aims

  • Equip you with the skills to identify an area for doctoral research, with an understanding of what PhD study involves and the preparation required in putting together an effective proposal
  • Provide you with advice on how to articulate the originality, intellectual purpose and research context of your project and also how to frame your approach and rationale for undertaking it
  • Help prepare you to write funding applications for doctoral study
  • Give you opportunities for feedback and practical advice on draft proposals

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, you will be able to demonstrate the ability to construct an effective research proposal for doctoral study.


Learning hours
Seminars Tutorials Independent Learning
8 2 140

There will be four two hour seminars and a tutorial, which will provide you with the opportunity to discuss your research proposal with your prospective research supervisor or a subject specialist. The first seminar will introduce you to the principles and methods of writing a doctoral research proposal. Subsequent seminars will provide you with the opportunity to develop your understanding of the requirements for an effective research project and how to prepare for doctoral study; present and receive feedback on your research topics and reflect both on this feedback and what you have learnt throughout the module.

The module will give you practice in making a case for support by presenting your research ideas to groups of peers. You will be expected to present your work in written and oral forms and also to provide constructive criticism on the work of others. We will also critically examine some examples of strong research proposals. You will need to come to the first class with at least some broad topic ideas in mind, with the aim of refining these over the course of the module.


Assessment methods
Assessment % of final mark Length
Coursework 100% 3000 words

You will write a 3000 word essay. The coursework should situate your proposed research and outline the project and how you propose to approach it. The essay should include a literature review, introduce the key research questions, and offer a scholarly discussion of sources and methodology.

Useful links:

  • Timetable 2015-16
  • Preparing assessed work
  • Submitting written work
  • Marking criteria
  • Deadlines for assessed work 2015-16

*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is current and relevant. Individual modules may be updated or withdrawn in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, curriculum review, staff availability, and variations in student numbers. In the event of a material change the University will inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.