1 Writing the description and purpose


Developing your research proposal is a formal requirement of the University and is central to achieving your Confirmation of Candidature. It’s useful for both you and the University. It gives you the opportunity to get feedback from a review panel and confirms that your proposed research is worth doing and likely to succeed.

Your research proposal needs to incorporate a persuasive and coherent argument that your proposed research needs to be done and the most effective methodology is what you’ve outlined.

It maps out your research problem and your proposed approach to investigate it. Although there are specific school or disciplinary requirements that you need to be aware of, the central elements of all research proposals are:

  • What you propose to research
  • Why it needs to be researched
  • How you plan to research it.

You will notice that the first three modules of the course focus on each of these sections along with some other elements particularly relevant to each section. The final module focuses on planning and delivering your presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will:

      • understand the purpose and audience for your research proposal
      • be able to write an effective research problem statement and research questions
      • understand the essential components of a research proposal and be aware of specific School requirements
      • be able to write the ‘what’ section of your research proposal.


Discussion Forum

Say hello! Please introduce yourself and say where you’re up to with your research proposal. Are you just beginning to think about it, or have you already drafted some or all of it? Tell us what you’re looking for from this course.

Workspace Forum

When you’ve worked through the first sections of this module, you’ll be asked to write:

  • your problem statement and research questions or aims and objectives
  • two paragraphs of your writing addressing the ‘what’ element of your research proposal (for example, a brief description of your proposed research, a broad contextualisation of the research area, etc).

Although we will be commenting on your paragraphs throughout this course, we also ask for your feedback on the writing of other participants. Reading work from others helps you notice elements of  research writing that will help in your own work, so please contribute freely to this activity. To do this effectively, we need to maintain a ‘safe’ critiquing space. Please read this short document on giving constructive feedback.