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Guidelines for drafting a study proposal

All proposals are intended to demonstrate: 

  • A rationale for the study (i.e. why has this topic been chosen?)
  • An adequate understanding of the current literature in the field (with variations per discipline).
  • A clear articulation of the key question(s) to be addressed and the main aim(s) of the study
  • A clear knowledge and justification of the research design, and methodology to be used
  • That the research work is feasible within an appropriate timeline
  • That there is funding and support available or planned and is of sufficient scope to result in a significant and original addition to knowledge on the chosen topic. (Please note: master’s research does not have to add to the body of knowledge in a particular field, but must demonstrate a mastery of the appropriate research methodology
  • That, where relevant, the necessary ethical approval will be obtained, and the anticipated process for obtaining such.


Once departmental processes have been followed and a proposal (master’s or doctoral) has been approved at departmental and ethical levels the proposal is then approved at faculty board level (via a Dean’s circular).  In the case of a PhD proposal the Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) is informed of the Faculty approval, before ultimately being approved by the Doctoral Degrees Board via a DDB Chair’s Circular.


All master’s (full research and dissertation) or doctoral students must have completed and received approval for a proposal within their first year of registration. Only in exceptional cases will a student who has not submitted their proposal to the Faculty and, via the Faculty, to the Doctoral Degrees Board (DDB) within their first year of registration, be considered for re-registration and progress into the second year of study.


Coursework Master’s Programmes

(e.g.: MMed, Master of Public Health, MPhil in Biokinetics, MPhil in Biomedical Forensic Sciences, etc. Thus, any programme which contains coursework as well as a research component which must be written up as a dissertation)

Please note: Students completing coursework master’s programmes may submit their proposals prior to registering for the dissertation component of the degree.  However, those students who did not submit their proposals early MUST do so within 6 months of first registering for the dissertation component of the degree.


*(With acknowledgement to Prof Peter Meissner, for his contribution)