Stuart Watt - School of Computing at RGU
Writing a PhD proposal
Here are a number of hints that may help you prepare a proposal for registering as a PhD topic. These apply even when you are building on one of our example topic areas, listed in the possible projects page. In fact, with these, it is often even more important that your unique contribution to these projects comes across clearly in the proposal.
Note: Proposals are not wholly binding. They can (and must) change as the research progresses. They do, though, help us to work out (a) who might be appropriate supervisors, (b) how well you have thought out a small piece of research, and (c) roughly the kind of project you intend to tackle, and how you intend to tackle it. And that's really what the proposal is for.
1. Talk to the department in advance
Academic supervisors are allowed, and often even encouraged, to
help you prepare a proposal in advance. This allows you and potential
supervisors to negotiate a common interest in the topic of your
research. If you don't contact a department in advance, it is more
than likely that they won't be able to find potential supervisors
with enough common interest. Feel free to email the named contact
for the department, with a summary of your ideas, and they may be
able to put you in touch with potential supervisors and others who
might be able to help.
2. Structure the proposal
Before actually writing the proposal, it's a good idea to do a bit of research on what other people have done, and to find a nice clear statement of a problem that you are interested in tackling.
We find that targeted proposals ones with a clear statement of a particular problem and possible solution, or a clear system to build tend to be much easier to write proposals about than open research topics. It is important that a proposal doesn't seem at all vague. If the proposal seems to read confidently, that will help it to be successful.
3. Cover the "big four" issues
A good proposal covers four main issues. These look like answers
to these four questions:
A good proposal will have answers to all these questions, usually
spending about half to two thirds of a page on each one.
4. Attend to the method
Contact: sw (at) comp.rgu.ac.uk; tel: +44 (0)1224 26 2723; fax: +44 (0)1224 26 2727