Dissertation Proposal: Template and Tips

Requirements to the dissertation proposal writing vary from institution to institution. On some courses, dissertation proposal forms a significant part of your final submission, while the others don’t even ask students to do a proposal.

If you are required to compose a proposal, it is important to follow a correct structure and submit your paper in a timely manner. As a rule, proposals are no longer than 1,000 words, but you should check whether your course has any specific requirements.

What is a dissertation proposal?

Proposal, dissertation section that is sometimes required by universities, aims to convince the committee that your topic and question are worth researching. Therefore, a proposal has to show that you:

  • Have defined an interesting and specific question;
  • Can explain the significance of a question to a person not familiar with it;
  • Can come up with an effective hypothesis;
  • Have a plan for testing your hypothesis.

In a word, a dissertation proposal is evidence that you have chosen an interesting and worthy question, and you are capable of answering it.
How to do dissertation proposals?

There is no need to read all the existing literature about your question to convince your supervisor that you have a full understanding of the problem you are interested in before you create your proposal, however you have to be familiar with the basic materials which will help you to find an effective approach to the research. Your committee is expecting that you will be able to locate such information.

You should answer the following questions in order to construct your proposal:

  • What problem are you going to investigate?
  • Why do you think it is a problem?
  • Why it should be solved?
  • How are you going to find the answers?
  • What sources are you going to use?
  • Why are you going to use these sources?

So, you are wondering how to do a dissertation proposal and structure it properly. Sometimes supervisors ask students to structure their proposal in accordance with certain rules required by their university. However, generally, the structure of a dissertation proposal is standard:

  • Dissertation holding title.
    Make it short and to the point.
  • Objectives.
    Define how many potential objectives you have. If there are too many of them (more than 3), your question is too broad, and you should narrow it.
  • Literature, background and context.
    Any of these words may be a title for this section. Here you are expected to mention key areas of study and schools that are going to be involved in your dissertation. Sometimes universities require you to create a reference list or a bibliography.
  • Details of the future research.
    This part is about creating an outline of the area of your research.
  • Methodology.
    Here you should write about suggested methods of your research. Describe how are you going to look for relevant data and what kind of data you need.
  • Potential outcomes.
    Try not to guess potential results of your dissertation. Obviously, if you knew the results, it would be pointless to write a dissertation. In this part, you are recommended to summarize what outcomes you are hoping to get and suggest your target audience.
  • Timeline.
    Some supervisors ask students to outline the way they are going to manage their research. If this is the case, you are free to include some sort of a concept map or a Gantt diagram. Whatever you chose to include, try to do a realistic timeline.
  • Bibliography.

If you are required to include a reference list, find out approximately how many references you are going to list.