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How to write a dissertation proposal: A Compete Insight

Prior to discussing how to write research proposal, let us have a quick look at why it is written. Research proposal is written with the aim of informing your supervisor about what you would research, why it is important and how you will go about it.

Format of dissertation proposal may vary according to the streams chosen by you but its basic structure and goal remains the same. Here we guide you about writing a standard format. It contains different key aspects and has introduction, methodology, aims & objectives, literature review and also the bottlenecks. All of these have to be included to write a comprehensive proposal.

Basic components of a standard dissertation proposal are

  1. Cover page
  2. Introduction
  3. Literature review
  4. Constraints of Research

It is true that not all University departments make it a mandatory part of dissertation writing but most of them do. Once you are through with writing it, schedule a meet with your supervisor and ask about the required amendments need to be done.

How to Begin?

Even if you have all the required things for writing the proposal, make it a point to consult your supervisor for the guidance about the tone and style. You need to be simple, direct and more importantly flexible!  You need to have the willingness to adapt to the methods and ideas of your research.

What you intend to do should be clear in the proposal and you need to adopt a balanced view. Do not blindly follow the Internet and choose any structure you like. Instead, make sure to select a structure that is most suitable one for your dissertation. Make sure that your proposal has enough sections covering all the basic points of your research and the goals you are going to achieve from the research work.

Cover Page:

Being the first page, cover page is like a first impression that you make on supervisor. It is just formal information about your research. It is all about giving a quick glimpse of what your research would be all about to the readers. Here are the basic components to be included in your paper.

Title of the Dissertation Paper:

It is just tentative which you can revise during the course of your research work. It has to be centrally aligned or up to the requirement of your institution. Here the title is to be placed in caps with a legible font size.

Name of the Researcher:

Full official name comes just beneath the title. A full official name is to be typed in the same font as your topic. You can choose to include the initials of your middle name too.

Concise Statement about Research:

It contains a couple of statements about the problem or issue that your paper work is going to examine and the question you want to address in that.

Name of the Supervisor:

Full name of the supervisor overseeing the dissertation is to be put here. Date of submission can also be included.


This is an inevitable part of your proposal. Most of the research papers begin with this topic and it contains the “Thesis Statement” (Just one statement at the end of introduction  that summarizes the main point of the paper) and the objectives of your research. You should outline what problems your research work is going to solve and what is its significance.

You can also choose to include a few useful definitions, limitations and delimitations along with other similar section as per the requirement of your department. In short, introduction summarizes the wider concepts and issues and presents the main research question. You need to get to the point in the introduction as there is no room for editing.

Review of the Literature:

In this section of your proposal you need to come with a quick view of all the data or literature work that you want to use for the purpose of writing your review. Here students put the framework of the research and its description. It is written with the purpose of assessing the source and to inform the readers its pertinence and validity.

Identify the sources which will be really helpful to frame this section. You need to make sure that the sources you want to use are balanced. Include enough literature (books, magazines or any other published work from reputed sources.

Constraints of the Research

This is a must include because you tend to come across it. There are a number of topics that have broad links to large and complex issues. You need to understand the bottlenecks that you may come across and need to come up confidently about the same. This helps the supervisor judge your understanding of the larger issues.

Important to Note:

Structure of your dissertation depends on the specific requirements of your course so you may or may not need to include methodologies or literature review. It is good to talk to your supervisors and colleagues to know what sections you would need.

Once you know the sections to be included, you can focus on your writing and can break the proposal into separate headings so that each piece can be tackled individually.  Break your proposals to clear chapters and sections depending on the word count.

Things to Take Care While Writing it:

How to prepare for writing it?

As you begin to write your dissertation proposal begin by looking at a bigger picture. Ask yourself, what your work actually wants to achieve? Gather and write down all your ideas even if you think they are not fitting together. You can later review that suits you the best. Just keep in mind that a great research work is meant for satisfying academic requirements.

For making a good showcase window, do a thorough preliminary research and determine whether you have adequate information available to explore your ideas. Do the background research work to find the best relevant pieces that can ensure the originality and success of your work.

When you are writing a proposal for perusal, ask yourself whether you understand what is required and can complete dissertation on the subject you choose. Proposal is a framework and a complete idea for the supervisor of what you are going to work on. You can borrow successful proposals or take a glimpse on them online but make sure to consult your professor about what all is desired and to be included in it.

Organize Your Proposal around the Set of Questions to be Effective:

One great way of making a good proposal is to organize the same around certain questions and be prepared with the answers of those. Keep in mind that your proposal should be able to explain the importance of problem and the need for the research has to be established by you.

Keep in mind these questions and be prepared with their respective answers

  • What issues or problems your work would address?
  • Why it is an issue/problem?
  • Why is it important to resolve that problem?
  • Where will be the right answers found?

Basically, the proposal for dissertation is written for the purpose of discussing an issue or a problem and how the paper will be helpful. It should also include who would be benefitted by the research and the practical applicability of your work. It is important to answer them in a simple and lucid manner for a better understanding.

If you can express the intention of your research in a concise, simple and effective manner then the purpose of proposal will be solved. Make sure that you have written it strictly in the present sense and have incorporated introduction, frame work methodologies used, literature review and a reference list.

In the gist of it, make sure to define all the terms that you may be using and how those terms would be used in work. You must also detail the methodologies that can help the readers explain what you plan to do and how. It depends on you how you want to list the materials, data and evidences that you plan to use. Most important of all is to highlight the fact how your research is going to be truly helpful in addressing the problem discussed.

It is an important and the foremost step in writing your dissertation work whether it is Masters Course or a PHD level. Your proposal is a showcase window which gives a glimpse of what and how your work is going to be. It explains what you intend to examine and the best part of writing this proposal is that it sets the stage for the forthcoming research paper and provides clarity on the approach.

Your Dissertation proposal enables your departments and supervisors to make sure that your content is backed by good and adequate sources.

Get guided further if you have queries…

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