Writing a proposal

Once you know what kind of PhD you’re applying for, it's time to start writing.

Books, pencil and hands

Some disciplines may ask you to propose a project, which will normally fit with their existing research interests and expertise. Your potential supervisor can help you get this right, so try to get as much advice from them as you can.

If you're applying to join an existing project or a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), you might not have to write a proposal. Each project or CDT is different.

Check our funded projects directory, department web pages and our Centres for Doctoral Training for details.

Watch our video for tips on how to apply.

You need to consider the following:

What's your idea?

In PhD terminology, this is called your research question. It could be a theory you want to test, or a more open question, but you must be precise.

What makes your idea relevant?

How does it fit into the context of current thinking on the subject? Will your research contribute something new?

What's your plan?

How will you go about answering your research question? You need to set out a workable methodology and show that it can be done in the time you have.

What resources do you need?

Describe the training, travel, materials and equipment you need and where they fit into your methodology.

Next steps

Use our online application form to submit and track your application. Remember to check the admissions process for your department or project first. Most departments ask for two academic references to support your application.

If you're a medicine graduate and you want to do an MD research degree, you have to apply direct to the Medical School using a different form.