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Writing a Research Proposal

As part of your application, you will need to provide a research proposal. You should identify the area of research that interests you, which could include the influence of your current practice in the research. You will also need to demonstrate that you are able to make an original contribution to a field of study, bearing in mind that a research degree can take several years to complete.

Please carefully read the following FAQ's to ensure you know exactly what is required of you.

  • FAQs

    • How long should my research proposal be?

      Your proposal should not exceed 2000 words in length.

    • How should I present my proposal?

      A proposal will often include the following sections:

      1. Title / Abstract
      2. Introduction / Rationale
      3. Research aims or key questions
      4. Literature review / review of current research / practice
      5. Methodology / methods
      6. Summary and Conclusions
      7. Sources / References / Bibliography
    • Can you give me more information about the Abstract / Introduction / Rationale section?

      Your research proposal should include a working title and provide a short summary or abstract of your overall proposal.

      The introduction of your research proposal is meant to summarise key points and ideas of your intended research. It is an opportunity to set the context for your proposed research and demonstrate that it will add something new to your chosen area of research. It may be relevant to incorporate in this section how your past / current research, work experience / practice, and previous achievements might support the completion of your research project.

      Your rationale should identify why this research needs to be undertaken and the context from which your research will develop. The rationale may include an indication of the principal issues, problems, controversies, ethical issues, and emerging theories; describing the contribution your research will make.

    • What do you mean by research aims or key questions?

      This section is where you clearly define the overall focus of your research. The research aims or key questions should help guide your literature / field review. We would normally expect to see one to two research aims or key questions in a research proposal.

      This is a broad statement of desired outcomes which can be used to sculpt an idea or picture. Aims are long term intended outcomes in relation to the goal of your research. An aim can have numerous objectives associated with it. Objectives are needed to establish or emphasize how you plan to accomplish your aims or answer key questions. Objectives are more focused / concise and read as practical steps you are going to take to answer your research question, test your hypothesis, or how they will meet the overall goal.

    • What is the aim of a literature / field review?

      The aim of this section is to address what is already known about the research topic. This is done by reviewing key publications and / or creative works that address the research questions outlined. A review should describe existing theories or research that is related to the research project you are proposing. This should be used to show where you perceive to fill a gap in existing theory or knowledge, or propose something which is controversial to existing ideas.

      Please accurately reference all sources and cite them in your bibliography / reference list.

    • Can you tell me more about what to include in the methodology / methods section?

      This section is important to highlight research methods you may use in meeting your aims and objectives. You can explain the variety of data you intend to collect, how you intend to collect it, identify any quotas / demographics you intend to fill, and how you will analyse and evaluate your data justifying why you chose a particular research method.

      This section is also where you would include any resources, equipment and additional costs you may encounter whilst conducting your research. It is equally appropriate to describe possible ethical issues which may require consideration and how you propose to address such issues.

    • What do you expect to see in the summary and conclusions section?

      Ensure you keep this section clear and concise summarising the overall aims, objectives and possible outcomes of your research, highlighting the important information that may be helpful to a reviewer.

    • What format should I follow when creating my references / bibliography section?

      This section is where you will list all the sources you referred to in the research proposal using a recognised referencing style appropriate to your discipline.

    • Are there any other formatting or presentation requirements I should be aware of?

      Your proposal should:

      1. not exceed 2000 words in length
      2. use Arial font, size 11
      3. include clear headings and sub headings
      4. have correct grammar and spelling throughout
      5. be referenced fully
      6. be proof read before submitting
    • Can I discuss my proposal with an academic / professor before submitting it?

      We encourage all applicants to discuss their proposal with an academic who specialises in a key area of research in advance to submitting. You will need to explore your options and discover whether we are likely to be able to support your studies, and if the allocated supervisor has the capacity to accept additional research students. From the University's perspective, we will need to determine whether the proposal will result in a piece of research that adds to our research goals and objectives as a practising institution.

      We currently have supervisors available in:

      • Machine learning
      • Visual analytics
      • Mathematics and statistics
      • Smart sensors (for ambient assisted living and smart homes)
      • Numerical algorithms (especially computational geometry)
      • Artificial intelligence
      • Ethics of technology
      • Psychology
      • Business information systems and business informatics
      • Robust software/system development
      • Networking
      • Ethics
      • Marketing
      • Operations management
      • Enterprise and economic development
      • Education
      • Design

      Please view more information on our staff members, including their contact details. If you would like help identifying the right member of staff to contact, please telephone our research office on 0208 411 5555.

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