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Research Guide: Research Proposal

This Guide provides post graduate students with the tips and tools necessary to successfully complete their research.


We understand how daunting the proposal writing process can be, so we have created a step-by-step course to help you with proposal writing and beyond!

Self-enrol for the Advanced Library Training course on ClickUP HERE.


You can also view our Academic Writing skills tab on the Postgraduate Online Training Guide.


Understand the purpose of the proposal: This does not need to be a perfected piece of work. It is a stepping stone towards beginning your actual dissertation or thesis. Make sure you understand what your Supervisor / Committee / Department expect in terms of your proposal defense. Important elements are a clear problem statement, research question, and methodology. You need to motivate why your question is important, and that you have a feasible plan for how you will go about answering the question. You don’t need to have answered the question or have filled all the gaps already. 

Keep in mind that the proposal is to some degree only a map or guide, and you will have room to manoeuvre as your actual dissertation or thesis evolves. 

The proposal reflects you and your work ethic. Make it look professional by using your Department’s template or create your own by attending our MS Word Advanced editing course.

Proposal outline

Important: This is a generic format for proposals and not all the aspects might be applicable.

  • Working title
  • Background/Rationale for study
  • Literature review
  • Research problem
  • Justifications, Aims and Objectives
  • Methodology
    • Research design
      • Sampling
      • Data collection
      • Data analysis
  • Quality of research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Bibliography

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